Sunday, January 25, 2009

And another. (It takes ten nice things to erase every mean word spoken.)

I don't like conflict. I avoid it at all costs. I hide my own feelings of hurt or dissapointment or anger most of the time, when they occur, just so no dissagreement happens. So no unpleasant words are exchanged. I would much rather be unhappy all by myself, then tell someone else that they are making me unhappy somehow and then we get unhappy together. That sucks. I hate conflict.

It makes me feel all wrong inside when my relationships aren't all going well. It crawls under my skin and makes my heartbeat seem off balance. Something is missing. What is it? Harmony? That seems to high a word but what I mean is that I don't like discord. It grates on me all day long. Yesterday and the day before it made me sick to my stomach. It made me cry. My fingers wouldn't hold steady and food sounded awful and I couldn't concentrate on my reading. I hate conflict.

Even when its over, its like the reverberations of it are still moving across the surface of my mind in little ripples. I replay all the events and every word and try to figure out what I might have done to make it not happen. I could have said this, I could have agreed here, I could have apologized here. But that meek, apologetic person is dying in me. I'm not going to agree and acquiesce if it means lying to myself and other people. I'm not going ot pretend that everying is okay when everything is most certainly not okay. And for the first time in my WHOLE life, I'm not going to assume that everyone else is worth more than me. I deserve to be heard. I deserve to be seen (accurately). And I deserved to be loved for who I really am.

I know that anger is a secondary emotion. It comes from things like hurt and dissapointment. It is a defense mechanism meant to drive away the person or events responsible for the hurt and dissapointment. Meant to stop it from happening again. But anger is rarely the healthy response and forgiveness nearly always is. I can rationally choose to forgive, but I can't make the hurt stop with a decision and so the anger is still there, lying in wait.

I must be extra kind. I must be extra friendly. I must be extra agreeable and a better listener and smile as much as I can so it doesnt show. I must learn to lie. I can't show that it hurt more than it ever should have. Can't let it show that now I doubt every good thing about myself. I doubt other people that seem to like me. Cant let it show that I'm not okay. That it will take me years before I could ever let someone get that close again.

Because, I don't want anyone else to hurt because I'm hurting. I don't ever want that.

One thing leads to another.

I think all I wanted to say is that I want to be heard. I really hope one day I'll find a person who will want to listen to everything I have to say. Someone who'll read what I write, even when it sucks. Someone who will want me to listen to everything they have to say. And he'll have some passion that I won't quite understand but I'll listen and observe and support him in whatever ways I can. And we'll argue sometimes. And we'll discover amazing things about each other. And time will pass too quickly. And we'll discover flaws in one another we never knew we had. And we'll discover layers of beauty no one else has ever noticed. And when its just us, we'll be safe from all the world and anyone else that might want to hurt us. We'll be a team. We'll be a partnership. At least, thats what I'm hoping for.

I imagine this is how it feels to be hit in the side of the head with a flying stapler.

My self-image has recently been . . . cracked. I picture it as the image I saw underneath my skin when I looked in the mirror. The girl behind the body. And the crack didn't shatter everything, but rather ran down the middle and split into a thousand other lines like a river and its tributaries, branching out further and further. Every crack moved the glass just enough so that the pieces of mirror no longer reflected a unified whole. I'm looking a collection of attributes that don't add up to me.

I've been searching and searching this person that I think of as me, trying to decide if what I see is the same as what everyone else is seeing when they look at me. Because recently, someone presented to me a picture of myself that was completely different than my own self image. And it broke. And now I don't know what to do.

So, I made a list of everything I could think of that is wrong with me. Maybe not everything. I didn't list things like: I can't park my car straight or I'm sort of afraid of the dark. I tried to list things I thought were important. Things that matter. And I'm sure I missed things. I even asked my mom to give me, without consequences, her list of things that were wrong with me. I wasn't surprised by her responses. I knew about all those things. What bothers me is the idea that there are things terribly wrong with me that everyone else is aware of and no one is telling me. I just recently began to fear that the people that seem to like me don't really like me at all. Its awful. I know. I'm really trying to fix that quickly, but thats where I am. I'm just a little broken.

Then I made the list of good things, which was harder. I don't want to seem vain. I don't think I AM vain, so making a list of things right about me seems, well, vain, and therefore contradictory to my own list. Nevertheless, I took some time to make that list too. Because the bad list couldn't stand alone. Because I am not just made of the bad things people tolerate. I think, more importantly, I am made of things that make the bad things worth tolerating.

So I made both my lists, thinking they would make me feel better. They didn't. Writing usually helps me solve problems and thats why I wrote this whole mess. But the problem isn't solved and I feel kind of lonely even around other people because I'm not fully participating. I'm trying to figure out what I might be doing that might be upsetting other people. And its not fun. And its not healthy. And so this note was born.

And I don't know who on earth would stick with me long enough to get to this part of the note, but here you are, I suppose. I just wanted to ask for affirmation or validation or some kind of honest feedback from anyone at all. Because right now I feel confused and hurt and lost and broken.  I don't want to stay here.

So here are the lists:

What’s wrong with me:
I’m impatient.
I’m stubborn.
I’m selfish.
I’m too honest, especially when others don’t want to hear it.
I’m not sympathetic.
Sometimes I’m uncaring.
I’m slow to forgive those that hurt me.
I’m slow to trust anyone at all.
I forget important dates like birthdays and anniversaries. And actually, they don’t mean anything to me anyway. I hate birthdays and holidays with mandatory behaviors.
I’m a terrible judge of character.
I’m sensitive, even when I pretend not to be.
I’m picky and particular about all kinds of things.
I’m grumpy in the morning.
I’m spoiled.
I’m under the impression that eventually someone will think I’m amazing.
I’m not generous.
I’m not a good listener.
I talk a lot, but only when I feel comfortable.
I always feel out of place.
I need a lot of personal time, away from all the people.
I don’t like animals or babies.
I don’t floss.
I don’t usually believe the nice things people say about me.
I’m terrible at math. And reading clocks. And understanding world politics.
I don’t pick up on non-verbal cues very well. It has to be spelled out in words for me.
I’m irresponsible with my money.
I’m uncomfortable with silence if someone else is in the room.

What’s right with me:
I’m friendly.
I’m polite.
I’m joyful.
I’m unassuming.
I’m agreeable.
I’m honest.
I’m brave.
I’m genuine.
I avoid any kind of conflict.
I’m reassuring.
I’m hopeful.
I’m strong.
I’m optimistic.
I’m open.
I’m always trying to be better.
I’m finally becoming the person I want to be.
I like everyone at first and it takes me a long time to see the flaws.
I’m safe.
I’m affirming.
I’m all about hugs.
I’m uncomfortable with negativity.
I’m okay with whatever it is you choose to do.
I’m open-minded.
I’m accepting.
I’m good at telling people how much I like them.
Sometimes I’m funny.
I’m a good writer.
I don’t make sneaky plans or play games with anyone. I’m forthright.
I’m smart enough.
I’m much more comfortable with sharing my flaws than the things I actually like about myself. That is, to say, I think I’m modest.
It takes me a long time to love someone, but when I do it is completely, the good parts and the bad.
Instead of flesh and blood, I am actually composed of awesome itself. Okay, that one is a joke.

Umm . . . thanks.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

I used to look at the mountain and cower in its shadow.

I'm changing. I've changed. What scares me is the idea that these changes aren't permanent. Am I going to fall down and roll back down to the bottom? This journey has been all up hill. And I don't ever want to go back to the valley. Yes, its easier there: the sun isn't cruel and the legs never tire and harsh winds only whip through every once in a while. But here, I can feel the welcome burn in my muscles telling me I'm making progress. Here I can see my future stretch out for miles in the brilliant sunshine. Here, I am out of reach of those waters that would soon flood the valley and carry me away. But what if I fall? What if I stop climbing? Because these last three weeks two weeks I haven't taken one step forward. I haven't stepped backward either, but progress is the tool by which I measure my happiness anymore and I've been standing still.

Standing still feels good for awhile, but that leads to stopping altogether and the next step still beckons with increasing intensity. This can't go on. I'm moving forward again. Complacency is no longer who I am.

Little things are changing too. I'm trying to like salad and I absolutely hate salad. Its all wrong. Its cold and crunchy and foreign. My mother never fed us salad, what is this monstrosity? But I've been eating it, trying to think of something else, trying to chew fast and swallow faster. I hate salad.

And fruit. I tried fruit cups. No good. They are so full of sugar and syrup its not fruit at all. Fresh fruit feels funny in my mouth. All stringy and seedy and running juice. So I drink smoothies. They taste excellent. They are low in calories and high in calcium, vitamin c, and other good stuff. A little protein powder makes them a meal. And slowly, the seeds become part of the experience. This is what fruit is: seeds and juice and sweet bitterness. And I like it. 

Maybe I'll learn to love the lettuce and strawberries. Maybe it will always be work. But I know that I used to hate the gym and now I love it, so this is what progress feels like. This is how it feels to be successful. 

One more step.