Friday, September 16, 2016

vulnerable

Funnily enough, I came over to this computer today in a distracted kind of way, even though it's the exact reason I even opened the computer, because blogging always takes me forever and a day, and actually, I don't have forever to compose my thoughts. And I am quite stingy with my time in general, which means when I do sit down at the computer, several things happen at once. My mind whirrs with thoughts, usually encompassing what I could be doing, and I stare off into space, trying to make myself think logically for two seconds, if I'm going to try and pull this thing off. Neither method works particularly well, and even though I am a semi-faithful follower of a guided meditation practice, I still have more moments where I'm swept away by past thoughts and future anxieties than I have moments of truly living in the present, and being content and happy about it.

I painted my mailbox this morning. A project that I have had on my to-do list for ages, finally complete. I painted a monogram on my mailbox, actually, which is a lot more fun than just painting a mailbox, which would probably never make a to-do list of mine. It looks quite nice, if you're into that sort of thing, and I walked away feeling happy with the outcome. But lately I've begun to lose my faith in the things that make me happy, and I've started to wonder if happiness can ever be a lasting emotion, or is it just a fleeting, feel-good emotion that I grasp for with the hopes that this, whatever this might be, would be The Answer. I meditate (almost) every day, I listen to TED Talks and to The Good Life Project (occasionally over my head...what is "ethos", anyway?) podcasts. I go to bed early, exercise every single day, have a good relationship with my kids and talk to my sister pretty much every day. I see a counselor once a month and believe all the gossip about sugar really is true. (Sugar is like the devil. Apparently.) So, on days like today, when I seem to have all the ingredients for a Happy Recipe, why do I still feel sad? It doesn't make sense. I have all the tools. How am I not using them right?

This is when I take my fingers off the keyboard, flip the lid, flip the computer off (Like literally. Middle fingers high. Boy bye.), and shut the whole thing down. What do I have to offer the world when I can't even answer a simple question about myself?

It might be easier to discover what I'm lacking than to say what I'm doing wrong. Because maybe I'm doing nothing wrong, I've just gone about things a little differently than I could have, and the outcome hasn't been exactly what I've expected.

Vulnerability.

A lot of people say how open and honest I am. Let me say this. I am open and honest. About the things I am comfortable being open and honest about. But being truly vulnerable is really, really hard. I don't want to be. Being vulnerable has brought on a pain and grief I didn't expect, didn't ask for, didn't want, and who wants any of that? So in response, which is what I know and am most familiar with, I close myself off. It's simply a self-protective gesture, so it doesn't seem like anyone should or would even notice. I'm still me. Just...not. Because putting up walls to keep other people out makes me a little less friendly and a little more edgy. Not edgy like "look at my edgy ripped jeans and tattoo" but edgy like the aforementioned single finger salute. Not that I salute any person, but I think it. Which in and of itself isn't so bad, but it sets me up for negative thoughts and negative attitudes instead of feelings of compassion, altruism and love for all others. There are some "others" that are really hard to love, but I don't get the privilege of picking and choosing who I authentically love and who doesn't make the list.

My counselor told me about a study done (book? study? I don't remember, doesn't matter) on people and what they value in others. Which was vulnerability. Which is defined as "the quality of being easily hurt or attacked". Which is something none of us want, and most of us guard against. So what we want in others is what we are the most afraid to give. Leaving us wrapped up in walls of our own making, guarded and on the lookout for hurt.

I have been hurt. I have been disappointed. I have felt unimportant, rejected and dismissed. Not by one. By a few, by many, I guess it just depends on how picky you want to be. I would suppose the person reading these words all the way to the end has also been hurt, disappointed and felt unimportant, rejected and dismissed. I'm certainly not the exception. And I have, in the process of battening down the hatches, so to speak, for fear of more storms, also lost true vulnerability, and in a way, lost a way to heal the hurts. Nothing in. Nothing out.

It's going to take time to really sort out the tangle inside. There is no easy fix when it comes to emotions and hurts and people and old habits and new habits and being open to healing rather than band-aiding. This life requires active participation, an awareness of the present moment, and the decision to enjoy it, and anyways, I'm tired of being on auto-pilot, knowing I'm anxious but not knowing how to breathe. When all I have to do is...just breathe. Allowing air in. Allowing a tiny hole of openness, starting with a pinprick, to get some light. Some vulnerability. Some life.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

hurt

Wow. So. Here I am. Letting words spill honestly from my soul, pen to paper (so to speak), and it's hard to even really know where to begin. It's been months--MONTHS--since I've so much as written a sentence on this blog, yet I see it's still up and running. I don't know what I expected. I haven't even checked in on it til now. I feel the push and pull of time, mainly, but also of insecurity. Doubt and uncertainty fill my head until I throw my hands up in the air, giving in to the moment and what I perceive as it's harsh reality. But reality is more about perspective than what is actually real, I've discovered, and as I stood at the sink today, plunging dishes into the hot water, feeling the warmth through my plastic gloves, the words just came tumbling out. In my mind, of course, since I am alone today and have no one to actually talk to but myself. I embrace alone, relish it really, since I am somewhat of an introvert and could probably survive a few days with just texting and no actual human contact. But of course I have an extroverted side that likes people and activity and music and commotion and at the age of 20 would have done just about anything to go to a club and dance the night away, then go home and stay in for a week. I'm complicated like that, I suppose, with opposing sides of a complicated personality that occasionally get in the way of each other. But. That's me.

The reason the words just came tumbling out today, of all the days to no longer stay contained, is because I've thought them before, I've just never formed them into actual ideas or sentences. Never even tried to form a complete thought, just allowed those thoughts to rumble around in my brain until, well, here we are, as they refuse to stay contained, and while I could just write them down on any old scrap of paper, this blog has long been a source of, shall I say...release (?) for me. An outlet, if you will. And as many times over the past months as my fingers have itched to say something, my brain has just as quickly shut it down, giving every kind of excuse as to why I should be D-O-N-E with this writing business. Beginning with 1) blogging isn't even a thing anymore, have you heard of YouTube? and b) does anyone actually read anyway? Which, to be sure, number two has always been my number one insecurity. But at this point in my journey, I have to say that I guess it doesn't really matter who reads or who doesn't read, since the world doesn't revolve around me anyway. The beautiful people on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube...oh, and SnapChat, too, well, they would probably beg to differ, but for me, I have to get outside of myself or I think I make myself sick. Like emotionally sick. Did you know that's actually a thing? That intense self-focus (good or bad, I guess) can actually make a person soul-sick?

So here I am, on a Saturday when I could be doing a zillion other important things, writing down my dish-scrubbing, chaotic thoughts. Trying hard not to be soul-sick, but maybe failing just a little bit at it.

The thing is, I don't think I'm a bad person. I guess everyone has their own definition of what a "bad person" might be, but my own definition withstanding, a bad person would not be defined as me. That said, I'm also not such a good person that I could never, ever be defined as not bad. I just feel like that maybe I am misunderstood, which may be the worst of them all. At least "good" and "bad" have definitions attached, but misunderstood? I get the feeling that people make assumptions about me based on what I say and do (okay, so who doesn't do that?), but fail to actually try and get to know me. Like just get to know me for me. I think I'm a pretty decent friend, although I have found in my friendships that no one will ever say if you aren't being a decent friend. They might, however, say a word when you aren't around, which can be hurtful. I mean, we all do it, and we don't think anything about it until it affects us directly. I don't know what people say about me, actually, I'm just figuring I know enough about basic human nature to know they do. But I have been criticized for the choices I've made, generally centering around the way I choose to eat and things of that nature, and here is where I feel misunderstood. I would like to meet someone who says "hey, that Heather, she cooks vegan meals four times a week, and I think she's a pretty cool girl" or "you know, she's trying really, really hard to keep her family healthy" or "I respect you and your choices" instead of the opposite, which is what I've mainly encountered. Does it really matter, in the grand scheme of things, what other people think? I mean honestly, we all know the answer to that. Or at least what we are supposed to say, which is "of course not!". Isn't that what we teach our kids, just be yourself, you do you, all those great sayings? But inside I do care what people think, and sometimes it's hard to hear the negative.

I'm not a difficult person. I don't think so, anyway. I don't mean to be. (False. Sometimes I mean to be, but that's not very often.) I certainly don't like to be thought of as such. I think I feel hurt, and while I recognize the hurt and know that holding onto the hurt is really only hurting me, I still hold on because I keep thinking about it. Why? I say to myself. It's silly! Just let go! Except I can't seem to do that, at least not very effectively, and I stand at the sink on a Saturday and instead of enjoying the view out the back window, I let thoughts tumble around until they become bulls in a china shop, completely tearing everything down.

I suppose I'd like to just be appreciated for being me, all my silly quirks and crazy thoughts, all the ideas that I blurt out and the songs I think are funny or gross or inappropriate but I dance like a crazy person to them anyway, the healthy recipes I am intrigued by that I try out on the daily. (I have found, through vegan cooking, a love for cooking that I previously underestimated! I'm not vegan, by the way, I just find myself cooking that way often.). I can't please the people who have different expectations of me, or who want me to be someone I'm not, or who want me to change to fit who they think I should be for them, or who think I'm wrong and they're right, or who have just totally given up on me because I am not ___________. (That's several people, and dang, it's hard when people just, you know, give up and move on, especially when you aren't ready, especially, especially when you don't really know why.) You can't please everybody. Someone used to tell me that. But, conversely, do I please anybody? That's what my mind says, when no one is looking and I have an alone day and I'm washing dishes at the sink. You only need to please God! I've heard that, too. But human relationships are good and frankly, I want them, and want more of them, and I want a lot of them.

My hurt causes me to close up, put up walls, be polite but not necessarily friendly. Because I DON'T WANT TO. Honestly, it doesn't seem that hard to understand. Does that make me difficult? Maybe. It's certainly not being the Pied Piper of people.

I feel the pull of time again. Timers for spaghetti sauce (supper club is tomorrow, and this sauce is best the next day!) are going off, my phone is alerting me to incoming texts, and I have to take a shower so I can celebrate my niece's birthday and not stink. (I might stink at celebrating a birthday but I refuse to have B.O. while I'm at it.). Her gift, set by the door and promptly forgotten, also needs to be wrapped. So even though I could probably sit and write all day, I can't. And anyways. No one wants to read past 8.4 minutes into a post.

My mom always said anger is toxic. She also said she believes anger contributed to her cancer. I won't ever forget that, not for my whole entire life, because I believe it to be so true. The thing is, what do you do with it when you feel it? And the hurt? And the frustration?

Now, if I am by myself on some island with these thoughts, you will need to let me know. That's no way to make friends, as islands have a way of isolating those who inhabit them. Buuuut...if I've hit a nerve and you can somehow, some way relate, let me know that, too.

Bye for now.

H

An addendum: because that's how things like this go. I write, I think, I ponder, I say oh, sh*t, what have I written that now everyone can see?????????, and I amend. So. Here's what I want. I want the people in my life to help me be a positive force. To cheer me on, to encourage me, to say You run that race, and you run it well! Go! and to provide support, not negativity. And since that's what I want, that's what I should be (key word: should) giving. I know I don't all the time. It's easy to judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions. But if we were to take a second, swallow the criticism, and cheer someone else on...maybe it would make a bigger difference than we could ever really know.

Peace, y'all.

H