Functioning on faith

It’s not that I’ve had nothing to say for the past week but, rather, that I had TOO MUCH on my mind. And to permanently kill my (passing) state of being a puddle of pissed off, I thought I’d do my usual bit of going through some growing pains and actually learning something. And I did.

But first, TMI
The women of the D.C. region must all have killer Kegel muscles. When you’re in twice-daily traffic like I am, damn it, you gots to do SOMETHING. Hell, I could probably cut off someone’s oxygen supply without even having to use my hands!

At least I didn’t tell you that I got away without wearing a bra for the past two days. Wait — oops. 😉


Coping mechanisms
I don’t mean to imply with “faith” in the title that I’m some Jesus freak or Bible-thumper. What I mean is that no matter how hard it is to do, we have to keep reminding ourselves that there might just, in fact, be a reason for all the stuff we view as bullshit at the time. And fundamentally, it probably IS bullshit — or, at least, a bad feeling you don’t deserve — but you can rise above it. You have to.

Many people are inclined to throw bullshit back at the dishee. My personal immediate reaction to inadvertent bullshit ingestion is to want to vent. Bitching, blogging, shopping, screaming, cleaning, driving too fast, breaking shit. Notice I said it’s what I WANT to do. And, let’s call a spade a spade here — when I did all of that, who got/gets hurt the worst? Indeed — moi.

My second reaction — and it’s the reaction that typically prevails — is to collapse into a state of passivity. Note the word “cleaning” in the list of reactions above — the madder I get, the cleaner my house is. It’s a trait I’ve garnered from my mom — after she and my evil asshat stepfather used to fight, the house got scrubbed — not like she ever let a speck of dust land in the first place. I’m not so anal-retentive about cleaning (Christ, the woman PRE-cleans! The hell?!?!) — I’m a clean person but I allow the place to get messy when life’s too busy to prioritize making the ceilings sparkle.

Cleaning aside, I typically ruminate. If I don’t have balls enough to address the problem directly (or approach the person(s) who need to be approached about it), then I shut down. When I — how shall we say — re-entered the living world not so long ago, I kept to myself. I was afraid to stand out, for fear that everything I’d worked so hard to overcome would show through my already-translucent skin. Moreover, I was terrified that what I’d worked so hard FOR would be taken away.

That, and let’s not discuss martyrdom. You can’t take something away from me if I deprive myself of it first. Of course, who’s the one who has to live the life without sunlight? Exactly. There is no substitute for the things you love. But sometimes feeling pain at least, well, keeps you feeling. I will never succumb to numbness, I promise you that.

I’m not saying what I do is *right.* I don’t even mean to imply that it actually *works.* All I’m saying is that people like me hope that things will blow over without incident — people like me end up cleaning up what other, more volatile people have ravaged, and I guess we don’t want innocent people to step in the shards of glass from the hurricanes of hysteria that we were once upon a time called in to contain.

And it’s sobering, really, how fragile everything is. And how fragile you become after one really good fuckup. Some days, you find that all you can do is rely on your faith in yourself and in the power of all things good to get you through and spare you from further insanity — at least, until you have healed. Like you ever will, really.

But if you’re gonna fuck up, might as well do it all at once and get it out of your system, right?

Generating karma whenever possible
Look, I’m all goddess-y and whatnot, but I will never, ever inappropriately point fingers or place blame elsewhere. In fact, I’m way more likely to find ways to — if not outright make things my fault — get into the groove of thinking about how I could have articulated myself or behaved better. And again with coping mechanisms that might work-but-not, I’m quick to apologize to keep the peace. Damn non-confrontational Gemini trait, I swear.

Not that I don’t hold people accountable, but I am willing to get on with the rest of my life more than I am hellbent on proving myself right. Of course, getting myself to be understood is another way of being “right” that I find equally satisfying. Which is why I work very hard to figure out people’s motivations — it’s easy to NOT be able to see a person’s point of view unless you somehow get behind their eyes.

Of course, it’s just as easy to not WANT to because you aren’t sure whether they’d do it for you. But that part doesn’t matter — you’ve got to take every opportunity that ever crosses your path to generate good karma. Even when it feels like it would kill you. Because it wouldn’t kill you to get practice at being a good person. It’s not like the Easter Catholics who just go to church on major religious holidays — it doesn’t make you a good Christian because you go to church. Being a good citizen every day of your life is what makes you beyond reproach and, ultimately, even more of a sympathetic character. Caring comes pretty easily — I just wish more people would hone that particular skill.

Functioning with expectations
This is a foreign concept to me, but let me take a stab at it anyway. I find that if somebody/something gets under my skin, it means they’re deeper in my heart than I’d previously thought. I can give a million examples of people I used to know, of whom I never had high expectations. Or any expectations, for that matter — unless it involved me bracing myself the next thing they were going to do that would result in me being recruited to serve as their clean-up crew, hostage negotiator, warden, etc. I mean, it’s not that I’d ever in a million years settle for tolerating someone else’s mediocrity — see the schtick above about keeping the peace at any cost– there have been people to whom I’ve said “no” so many times, although it resulted in me being outright harassed until I budged and grudgingly performed the latest in a line of favors that were somehow never reciprocated — not that I really ever asked. But I digress — I never did favors to get favors.

And in my personal evolution, I’ve thinned out the herd to eliminate that set — budging involved budgeting my emotions and time. And now I have expectations of Everybody and Everything in my life. And I function well within expecations in my own right, although I do admit I love blowing people away who have no expectations, ’cause they just aren’t used to being so damn dazzled. 😉

In any event, when people are deeper under your skin and in your heart than you’d anticipated, the surprise is a pleasant one, sure, but it also means they can hurt you more easily. Even if they don’t mean to. And a completely different person could say or do the same thing, and it wouldn’t faze you half as much, but because those special people practically walk on water, you get taken aback. And you wonder when you started really, truly being affected by them — how did they penetrate that barrier that you constructed so architecturally sound and breathtaking?

It reminds me of a C.S. Lewis quote — one I can recite by heart because I used to keep it framed in my dorm room: “Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one — not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

This is where faith steps in — you can never guarantee that you won’t be wounded again. But you can always heal — no matter how out-of-reach it seems. And those amazing people who are surrounding you just might be the ones dazzling YOU next time around … if you give them the chance. Pleasantly, you don’t have any doubt that they will … and that they will WANT to do so. And you will know that you deserve it, although the truly humble among us will always know how lucky we are. …

On iTunes: Shakedown, “At Night (Afterlife Remix)”

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