Checked Out

I don’t feel much between emotional unloading sessions. I don’t feel guilt or sadness. I’m irritable. My fuse is barely a stub. My tolerance seems to fill up to lower levels every day.

I’m wounded. I’m in self-preservation mode. And I’m not facing it. I’m not resting either. I’m not really taking care of myself. I’m just existing; getting through the day and making them as long as possible. I watch TV shows – hours and hours of TV.

I check out. I don’t want to face it. I don’t really even know what it is. Or maybe I do, but there’s no one to cry with. There’s no one to draw it out of me and empathize with my dark corner of the world.

Deceitful Hearts?

Can we explore the idea that the heart is deceitful? Yes, it’s a phrase straight out of the Bible Old Testament , but is that reality for Christians today? In fulfilling the Law, Jesus said we were now His friends, adopted as co-heirs of His kingdom. If we’re really supposed to live with a watchdog presiding over all our motives, wouldn’t He have said a bit more about what wanton creatures we [still] are?

Where Faith Meets My Feelings

I found myself in tears yesterday during a discussion about relationships with difficult people. We’ve been going to a small home church for the past two and a half years and our group has become pretty close. They’re like a second family to us. I wonder how often they get tired of me pushing the envelope though.

I always want to talk about reality and how what we’re talking about applies to issues we’re actually having. Call me a realist, but I believe my faith should be able to answer issues I’m having with the world around me. Faith and religion have obvious applications to helping the poor and being kind to the less fortunate, but what about the friend that’s stopped talking to me?

What about the parent that I can’t be involved with anymore? What about the manager I can never seem to please? What about the co-worker that treats me like a threat? What about the child I wish I could love better? What about the spouse I never reconciled with, and the entire family I removed from my life? What about the fiance I failed to love well? What about the man I now claim to love more than all of them? If I truly love him better than all of these, then my best is a sorry standard. I can do better, but my best is sadly broken.

I blotted out relationships that were toxic, but they’ve left me poisoned. I have failed to be better, and now I am bitter. My heart doesn’t give anyone a chance, because I cannot bear another disappointment. I narrowly escaped a nervous breakdown and turning to substance abuse and all the dysfunction that goes along with it, but I didn’t survive unscathed.

I laughed when I learned that RBF (Resting Bitch Face) was a thing people talked about. I laughed because I’m pretty sure my default mode is Bitch now. I’m probably not as bad as most, but compared to the meek, sweet, old soul I use to be, I feel like a complete bitch most days. My tolerance is so low, it’s a wonder I have any relationships left to speak of.

This is, of course, a massive exaggeration of reality. My house was brimming with people who love me just a few months ago. They didn’t show up because they were afraid I would be pissed off if they didn’t come. They came to love on me because it was my birthday and they wanted to see me. Friends I’ve had my whole life. Family that has always stuck by me.

But such is the way of the introvert. We mull over feelings that are the most pronounced, not the feelings that are the most often felt.

What I Should Have Said Was Nothing

If any of you have heard Mike Birbiglia’s standup routine, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, watch it when you’re done reading this.

It’s become more and more apparent to me that trying to make someone feel better when they’re in the middle of a crisis is a bit of a waste. You’re likely to be offensive and make them wish you weren’t around. People in crisis don’t need advice. All they need is to not be alone.

But in our infinite wisdom we jack it up, don’t we? We say too much. We try to fix it. We play the hero, and guess what? We don’t save them from the crisis. At the end of the day, their life is not better because we interfered. We’ve dumped our lifetime of effectively worthless experience on their tragedy and declared, “Do it this way. You’ll thank me!”

Do the world a favor and listen instead, you great oaf!

If you could do anything…

I find myself faced with the same problem I had as a senior in high school. What should I do? As a model student, valedictorian, elite choir member, worship leader, natural bookkeeper, exemplary customer service representative, college-bound, good-with-kids, and mature young woman, the world seemed to be at my feet. “If you could do anything…” didn’t seem like a prompt for my imagination to take flight. It was more like a very real problem.

Twelve years later I’m still in a quandary. What to do? At times I feel I would be grateful if I were only good at one thing; one obvious thing that dominated my life and defined me; however, fate has not blessed me with such a talent. I operate in many directions at once, all of them more advanced than average; and none of them more intriguing to me than another. I can just as easily immerse myself in a complex spreadsheet of data and pivot tables and graphs and functions as I can engage a company-wide issue of policy and procedure. In the next breath, I can discuss a complicated problem with a customer and empathize to build relationship and trust.

It’s become more and more clear to me that it I’m not really interested in specific business industries. I’m energized primarily by puzzles. Puzzles with people and processes and forms and interviews and software and databases and intuition. I like solving problems. I like being the hero, even if it’s only for a select few that see the value in what I do. I like to see my plan in action. I derive a surprising amount of pride from seeing someone utilize a solution I’ve instituted; like a goddess smiling on her creation.

“Consulting then,” I tell myself, and then I’m immediately self-defeated. “Who would listen to me? I don’t look the part of someone who’s got it all figured out and put together. I’m not inspiring. Who would trust me with their business?”

Once again I surprise myself. I had no idea I was so insecure.

Upstairs

It’s time to admit that I love period movies… and TV shows… and documentaries… and books. I don’t envy the inconveniences of the pre-industrial age, or the cold relationships of Great Britain before the “Great War,” or the objectification and ownership of women before the suffragettes, or the barbaric practice of slavery, or the infant mortality rate before immunizations. I simply appreciate the portrayal of that time; when women wore hats and gloves, and ladies had maids to dress them and dress their hair. Dancing was a sophisticated social art. Dining was a formal event.

A question occurred to me recently that has truly made me curious. Did the people who lived in that time romanticize the century before theirs? Will the next century be as intrigued by my life as I am about the lives of those in the century before mine?

$18

I really didn’t think I was the kind of person that would chase a goal only to find myself unfulfilled with attaining it. I’ve advised many people to be content with what they have, because if they’re not, they’ll never be content with more. How very very lame that I’ve failed to take my own advice. 

For most of my adult life I have told myself that I would be content and wouldn’t seek after anything more than $18 an hour. That’s it. I would pay for a comfortable lifestyle at that rate and I would be happy and content. It won’t come as any surprise to anyone but me that I now make $19 an hour and I’m not as happy as I thought I would be.

I’m ashamed. It’s not that I want more money. It’s that the life I have isn’t producing the happiness I expected. Of course, like most people, I guess I don’t really know what I expected; which is the product of vague planning, I’m sure.

A life coach (if I had one) would probably assign me the chore of writing down what my “happy life” looks like, then work backwards through the steps that will take me there. My counselor (if I asked her) would say, “Start with what you know, and work your way toward a goal.” Honestly, that all sounds rather exhausting to someone who’s generally unimpressed with life.

I need inspiration; a role model. I need to talk to someone who’s living a life I want to live; not a celebrity or a historical figure. Someone with a heartbeat and a story and time to talk to me.