Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Rethinking the Lotus IV

Claire was by all measures a very attractive high school senior. Her long brown hair and striking green eyes turned the heads of all the boys as she walked through the cafeteria each day. She was involved in varsity sports and was the captain of the cheerleading squad. Early in the year, she was elected vice president of the student council.

Because Claire held down an after-school job as a waitress that enabled her to purchase her own car, she was able to drive herself to her various afterschool commitments. Since her mother was actively involved in her own social life, she failed to notice that Claire had less and less time to spare and that her schedule was increasingly tight. After cheerleading practice, Claire would drive herself to the restaurant where she worked, and she would wait tables for more than four hours. Because she was friendly and popular, she found herself accepting leadership positions in the Spanish club and the National Honors Society. If there was an activity, Claire was actively involved in it.
Five years earlier, when Claire was in seventh grade, her mother’s boyfriend, who was living with them at the time, sexually abused her over a period of several weeks. She never told anybody about the incident, and when her mother finally ended the relationship, Claire convinced herself that it was in the past and to be forgotten. Deep down, however, she felt dirty, used, and alone.
What would drive a girl like Claire into unrelenting busyness and activity? How did busyness anesthetize her hurt and sense of shame? What did she get from this endless array of activities? For starters, she derived a sense of belonging, a sense that she wasn’t alone. She was essentially running from her fear of being alone, for she had been alone in the house when horrible things
had happened to her before. A young part of her soul feared that if she were alone, it would happen all over again. She made a vow never to allow herself to be in that situation again, so she surrounded herself with activity and people.
Another lotus-like effect this whirlwind of activity had was to offer her a sense of approval. She loved feeling that others respected her and viewed her as a beautiful person. Who wouldn’t? Those are not bad things in and of themselves, but when they are being used to anesthetize a wound that is festering below the surface, they can lead to greater problems down the road. The good can become the enemy of the best.

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