[disclaimer: This blog post rambles. Even for one of my postings, ramble-freaking-city. You have been warned.]
I can honestly say that this has been one HELL of a year so far. Barely two months in and already there have been incredible good and bad things. New friendships begin, at least one very old friendship (I fear) has ended.
I have gone from constant pain to feeling more like myself than I ever dreamed possible. Very healthy days, very sickly days. As Charles Dickens wrote “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”. Yeah, I think Chuck had a point. I get it.
In the midst of all these things, there have also been things reaffirmed to me by the “powers that be”, whether one believes that to be God, the Universe, Allah, Krshna, or just my soul, the result is the same. I have experienced many life changing events and even a few real-time thought process changes.
I have really, for the first time, begun to turn loose of my past and the things that are difficult to speak of. I have (I think) finally not only made peace with the things that I have survived, but I have begun to turn loose of them.
All humans are part of the animal kingdom, and really, we pretty much do behave as animals. Now don’t get all wound up, I’m not saying that we don’t function on a different level, we certainly do! There is a very different playing field between what we consider “animals” and the “human animal”. What I am saying is that we tend to learn in much the same ways animals do, and to a point our reactions and habits are fairly easy to predict. If this were not the case, psychology would be useless, as my reactions and fears would not resemble anyone else, they would be completely random and I would be unable to control them. This is definitely not the case for humans. We are fairly predictable in our actions and habits, both in the personal sense and in the group setting.
So, with that in mind, I have begun to realize that my actions are not altogether unpredictable in nature, either. By “I have begun to realize”, what I mean is that is has been pointed out to me in great detail. It has been pointed out in such a way as it cannot be ignored. I’m getting ahead of myself. Okay. Whoa! Time to back it up a notch and explain this a little (lot) better.
This train of thought actually began about a month ago. After hearing a friend tell me over and over that I would really enjoy a specific book, I finally took two minutes and found it. At my local library. Right there in the stacks. (yeah, can you say duh?) I took it as a signal that perhaps this IS something I should read, since it was so very easy to find in my little town of less than 15000 people. I had barely cleared the prologue before I knew that this was going to be a game changing book for me.
I don’t come across things that affect me so profoundly very often. This little book was full of things that resonated with everything I feel, everything I know. As I was reading, I found myself nodding and thinking, gee, I knew that, even though I am sure I have never read it before. It was like someone describing your hometown to you. It is familiar to you, there is never a moment of “wait, can this be true?” It is just knowing. There were no earth shattering revelations between the well-worn covers of this little book, and it was also a very entertaining little story as well. The result was that I walked away changed by the wisdom I had absorbed. I think that is what all good books should do.
After that book, I had to read another book by the same author, and although I was sure I would have to buy this one, since it was not at the local library, I put off the buying for a few days. I don’t know why, I just felt like I should wait. So I did wait. On the Saturday that I took grandma shopping, we decided to stop at a Goodwill store, so I was looking through the worn out college books and “Chicken Soup for the insert-demographic-of-your-choice Soul” paperbacks. Grandma asks what book I’m looking for, so I told her. “Oh” she says “I think I have that book.”
I argued with her, mainly because I was just sure that she wouldn’t have the book I was looking for. How could she already know about the wisdom that I was just discovering after all? No way did she have this book! When I took her home, she wanted to look for it in her bookcases and I told her not to worry about it, we will look for it later, I was tired and the last thing I wanted to do was look through her many bookcases for something I was sure she didn’t have.
We ended up over at her house again, the next day, actually. I had forgotten by then about the book, but grandma didn’t . She insisted that we look through her bookshelf to see if it was the book she had. I sat down in front of the mammoth shelves, defeated and knowing that I would have to look through each and every one before she was satisfied. Honestly, I think I might have pouted just a little. As I scanned, half-heartedly for a book that I just knew I would not find, my hand landed right on a copy of the book I was looking for.
“I’ll be damned!” I said, which earned me a “Lunargirl!”* from grandma. (she didn’t actually call me that, she referred to me by my first and middle name, which still sounds just as impressive as it did when I was 8) The book I wanted, the one I had been looking for? It was right there all along. Grandma has had that particular book since 1979, when I was three. *facepalm* So, yeah, listen to granny…sometimes she isn’t confused…
After reading both books and deciding that there was much wisdom to be had in both, I decided that there were things about me that I could improve. I have worked very steadily on these things and some of you are quite aware of this, some less aware of it. I will take a moment to say that when a certain friend starts to get on my case in front of everyone on twitter IN ALL CAPS about how I am stubborn, it is well founded. I don’t disagree with him, mainly because he is absolutely right. Also because I know it is as a friend. I really don’t mind being called out by someone who cares. If the intent is good, then it is all good.
In the last year, fate has seen fit to send me several close friends. I find it more than ironic that my closest friends are all men. All of them. They are all older than I am. I think it is all part of me learning how to trust again. There is a part of me that has a very hard time trusting men, especially those that are close to the age that my father might have been now. It comes from the traumas of youth, when I was hurt deeply by those I should have been able to trust. I understand that part of myself now, and it makes healing much easier.
I find it more than a little ironic that most of the friends I have made (who as I said are men) are also very knowledgable in psychology and anthropology. I didn’t set out to meet these guys, fate just tossed us all together. Isn’t that cool? One of my closest friends is actually a retired psychiatrist. I didn’t know that when we began talking, honestly, if I had, I probably would have approached him differently. As I have stated before, I have a long time distrust of shrinks. I have been assured that I am no crazier than anyone else and that although I have a few bad habits, I can be a much happier person than I have been. I think that’s healthy.
I told you all that to tell you this:
There was a disagreement between She and I last week. She was acting in a way that I found very disturbing and I pretty much just lost it and shut down. I was afraid of being hurt and I wasn’t sure what to do. Eventually, it got late enough that we went to bed. She drifted right off to sleep (the biggest part of her problem was that she WAS tired and on edge) and I stared at the wall for a long time before finally deciding that I needed to sleep.
I was telling my retired psychologist friend about it and the first time around the response was “I don’t understand why you are so upset.” (which did not make me happy) so I told the story again, with more detail, and then a third time, when I told ALL of the story including what bothered me and how I felt about things. As it turned out, I was part of my problem. (I know, hard to believe)
I can tell you that after seventeen years together, if I were in any danger at all, I would have known it by now. Over the years, She and I have had some dandy arguments, but never, not one time in seventeen years has She ever raised her hand to me in anger. Never in seventeen years have I raised my hand to her in anger. We don’t believe that is what love is about. We might shout, we might even throw things on the odd occasion, but never is there violence. So why was I so scared? Somewhere, deep inside of me, there was still the same scared little girl afraid of being hurt.
“You are living in the past” my friend says. Well that pissed me right off. How dare you tell me that I am the problem here. I took a few minutes and was just breathing in and breathing out while he very patiently explained to me what he meant. “Why were you scared?” I had no choice but to answer that I was instantly reminded of the terrible things that happened when people started shouting and I was young. There was never an argument that didn’t end in someone getting hit, punched, slapped, etc. It always ended in violence. Part of me still wanted to react to that. Just like Pavlov’s dog, I had been conditioned. It had happened without my consent and without me even giving it a second thought. Having it pointed out didn’t make me feel very good about it though.
“So you have to decide whether you intend to stay where you are, or are you going to let go of the scared little girl and move on. You aren’t there anymore. Is that where you want to live?”
“No. (sniff) I don’t want to be that girl again. It sucked enough the first time around.”
“Then let it go and move on.”
“Well, how the hell do I do that?”
“I want to say something, but it will piss you off.”
(eye roll from me…)
“Just say it. I can take it.”
“Dammit, you are not that stupid.”
It didn’t piss me off, as it turned out. It did make me think, though. As per my usual, I was making it harder than it really was. I think my friend could sense this, so he broke it down so well for me using an analogy that works for me. Cooking.
“Listen. You can cook really well now, can’t you?”
“Yeah. I do alright.”
“Could you always, or was it hard at first, maybe a little scary…”
“yeah, it used to be harder than it is now.”
“alright then. So what seems hard now, it really isn’t. Eventually it gets easier. Just like once there was a time when you didn’t know how to make chicken salad, but now, chicken salad is nothing. Way easy. Get it?”
“yeah. I think I got it.”
We talked for a little while and I managed to bring it up when She and I got home that night. I told her how I felt, and even though I was a little embarrassed to admit it, I told her how much it upset me the night before. In the end, She and I are getting closer and closer all the time since I have committed to telling her EVERYTHING (hush you. I know we talked about this last year. You know who you are.) about how I feel and how things affect me. In the end, the things that I held back, afraid that She would see me as weak? Those things, once revealed actually made us stronger. (yeah, I know, you told me that too. lol)
So believe me when I tell you, the scared little girl has been turned loose and doesn’t live here anymore.
There is nothing scary about chicken salad.