Godliness, or something like it

In perhaps the most bizarre incident of peer pressure, I suddenly want to find a church. Now, if I know me, this will last exactly 20 minutes and will probably pass. Otherwise I’ll go one week and then try to find a pagan temple or something to counterbalance it, but maybe that’s what I need right now. God or something like it.

I don’t know if my reasons are right, but I guess the motivation doesn’t matter — just that I show up and mean it. I’m hoping it will be a leap I need to take to learn to commit to myself, to stop saying, “Well, maybe NEXT week. …” with that and everything else my lazy ass puts off. Because I? Will never run out of excuses. For anything. I think I’ve been handed so many in my life that I’ve learned how to dole them out like a Costco-sized case of cat treats.

My best friend instructed me this weekend to find something, anything to give me some distraction, joy, achievement. Freelance work, a volunteer activity, dance classes again (ha!), some sort of social club. A regular “date” night in which I promise to show up at a certain time whether it’s friends or otherwise and, damn it, keep the appointment. Because I? Don’t. EVER. I’ve earned the rare distinction of being the blow-off queen. I’m already trying to figure out how to nicely tell someone that the time they suggested meeting on Friday night? Haaaaa. Funny.

My friend and I were not-so-fondly reminiscing about the years during which we worked together. We both reported to morons, to put it mildly, back in the day, and they wielded their power to make us miserable at every opportunity. But we never stood up to it. Well, we tried to battle their inadequacy and superiority-in-title-only smugness with ideas and ways we knew we could contribute. And believe me, we have the footprints on our foreheads to prove it.

We never took lunch hours and we always worked late hours. (A habit that’s fucking impossible to break.) For both of us, we had numerous interruptions during the day, when we had to be present, and we both got revved up and energetic in the evening, so life was always a matter of allocating your energy throughout the day. There were the “be present” hours, full of fake smiles and just being “on” so that everyone can approach you and make small talk with you and ask you for favors. Fine. That’s why you’re there.

And our dumb asses volunteered for EVERYTHING, too. We wanted to be seen, we wanted to shine. We wanted to be first in line for plum assignments that, sadly, never really came. And when they did and we excelled, they were taken away just as quickly. But let’s all clap for the idiots who chose to put a white iron-on patch on a black T-shirt while we got the fucking place on national goddamned television — positive coverage, too!


Then there were the hours when everyone else ducked out early and we were left to do the jobs of three people each, not for our health but because that’s the kind of people we are. We hate leaving work at the office. We hate leaving loose ends not tied neatly in a bow. We have become accustomed to the taste of stomach acid in our throats as we just would not let things go without making them as goddamned perfect as they were going to get. On one hand, our slacker then-superiors didn’t give much of a shit about anything, but it was the day you let a detail slide that you needed to lube up your ass for the big fat fucking you were going to get for not fully letting them use your hair to wipe their asses.


Anyway, *ick.*


But there is a lesson to be learned in all of this, my friend said.

“You know, Dawn, all those hours, nights and weekends we squandered — where did it get us?”

For me, personally? I got better in my field, at the top of my game, in prime cognitive shape for bigger challenges. Hungry as all hell for something bigger and better than what I had. I had lots of other skills going to waste, so I figured if I could just get recognized for what I was doing, I could get a chance to do all those other things I was thinking about/honing anyway.

For her, well, it was different. She wasn’t using her degree. She had the same big dreams and even same aspirations/skills that I did (hence why we’re two peas in a pod), but she was continually stressed the fuck out over someone else’s problems.

Her old boss had once walked past her desk and snapped, “Wipe that stressed-out look off your face!” Because she needed to be grinning, pleasant, drugged — anything to maintain the illusion. Now, she’s the friendliest and most approachable person you’ve ever met. But day-um, if you weren’t heavily medicated, you couldn’t flit around like a ball of sunshine like was expected of you. That’s why my door was always closed there. And locked. 😉

I recalled that story and said, you know, what was being done to holistically help you not have that look on your face? Because this is someone who can hide her feelings well. That she had an openly human moment, of concentrating and stressing out, why there was never any follow-up — any “Hey, everything OK?” or a simple “What can I do to help you?” — is beyond me. That’s where my own expertise as a leader was. What I lacked in technical skill/training, I made up for in knowing my people. I knew when to tell people to take a day off. Not because I wanted to be rid of them, but because they had too much going on and/or they were getting burned out. I needed them emotionally healthy just as much as physically.

But then there I was, dragging myself in with the flu and dysentery and whatever the hell else I picked up. Because not a soul would let me rest, even on those “Dead” days — I scheduled two days a month to do not a goddamned thing but shuffle papers or maybe even slip out and catch a matinee or a sale at the mall — because I couldn’t take them as comp days despite not only the long hours, but also the mad dashes to the print shop at midnight to go over blue lines so we could print at 4 a.m. Monday morning. The sad part? Those mad weekends were the best part of the whole cycle.

Anyway, I lost the point. I get so consumed with my memories from those days. If you ever think I’m dispassionate and unemotional, ask me about my career path. Or if you want to KEEP me unemotional, then DON’T!!! 😀


My friend’s lesson to me was to look at her life. She’s running around after a teething munchkin (he turns 1 year old Thursday! Wow!) and a 3-year-old wild child — they’re both so full of energy and life. And she wishes so hard that she could go back and take those lunch hours — the years, she said, slipped away so fast. She spent her career exhausted and now is an exhausted mother.

Her advice to me now is that I need to let go of the guilt that comes with those who are predisposed to overachieve — the guilt when you’re not or when you only manage to eke out one or two projects in a day. God knows you give everything your all, or at least as much as you can spare sometimes, but looking back on all the sleep she lost back then, she says it’s not important anymore.

I remember when she got pregnant with her daughter, a high-risk odyssey during which she was violently ill and the baby was born two months early and then had to be hooked up to monitors and had regular visits to the ER for a whole year. I remember dragging her out of the office for her own health and forcing her to go to the doctor or else I’d bop her over the head and drive her ass there myself. I also remember tellling her that it was divine intervention to have such a troublesome pregnancy, that she should get the hell off the stress horse for the sake of the baby.

To this day, while we know her daughter had to come early because of the pregnancy-related liver condition my friend developed, she didn’t have to come *as* early as she did. And that kid has had to fight for every breath she ever had. She’s a tough little cookie today, full of life and energy. I look at her now and muse how she’s so accustomed to running at full-speed, not just because that’s how she spent her first whole tenuous year, but also that’s how her mom was while she was pregnant with her.

The bottom line was that for the sake of her family, my friend quit her job and moved her family to her hometown in a quiet West Coast town where she herself grew up. And to hear the difference in her voice is quite the trip. So when she tells me that slowing down her life is the only thing that saved her, I listen to what she says. I’d predicted it, and it came true.

Now, it’s my turn.

I get guilty because I thought I was going to be somebody special, you know? I thought I was going to be a Pulitzer prize-winner or a Nobel Laureate or the youngest blah-blah-whatever in the world. But I’m not and I have to be OK with that. I’m living somebody else’s dream right now, which is fine and the paycheck will certainly do. But I tend to let go my own dreams or at least wish for them so hard a vein pops in my forehead.

No doubt, my dreams can come true someday. But I am so freaking bad with keeping myself energized in the process. I decline invitations and turn off the phone to not know I’m missing them. I try to keep up with my peak times as deemed by the body clock, but I drag through the rest. I have ambitions that I look at on my cherished weekends and go “What’s the point?”

So when I say I’m going to turn to faith, this isn’t something that’s totally out of the blue as it sounds. I need help. I need someone, something, to guide me because I am only partway there. I want to live a good life and I don’t know how to do it. I might not find it within the walls of a sanctuary — maybe it’s in nature where I’ve always been inspired that holds so much more — but the emotional burdens I bear could use a place to rest other than squarely on my shoulders.

Maybe I won’t find all the myraid things I need in a house of worship down the interstate, but maybe I’ll be more aware and ready to embrace it when I do find it. Or perhaps I have a better idea of things than I give myself credit for, but I will find the courage and the love for myself to make it all happen without giving a hoot who’s looking or what everyone else is thinking. Time’s a-wasting, people. I don’t just want to be happy “someday.” I want to be fucking ecstatic NOW!

Moreover, I want to feel like I belong somewhere and that maybe the peace I’ve been searching for has been inside me all along.

I look forward to finding out just that.

One Lonely Response to Godliness, or something like it

  1. Old Freind :

    Ummm, you in church….wouldn’t you burst into flame entering one? For the sake of the parishiners shouldn’t you alert the fire brigade before persuing this course of action?????