Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What do you need?

When my dad died, so many people reached out to me. Phone calls, cards, letters, facebook messages, emails. My closest friends (in heart and proximity) showed up in the most amazing ways. Bringing food and plants and hugs and shoulders and comforting words. People, I don't even know that well, or have lost touch with, showed up too, and it warmed my heart. It made me realize that when someone you know is having a hard time, it's better to say something than nothing. So many times we don't say anything, fearing that we won't have the right words, or that we will upset someone. I was so touched by people's efforts; it didn't matter what they said or did, only that they cared enough to try.

A few years ago, someone I love dearly was going through a very hard time. A couple hundred times, I tried to reach out but stopped myself because I wasn't sure of my words. Other people told me to keep quiet. Sweep it under the rug. What if you're wrong? I listened, against my gut feeling. Years later, when she finally opened up to me, I told her that I'd wanted to talk to her about it but was afraid. You know what she said? "I wish you would have."

It is very difficult for me to reach out for help. When I do, it's usually very tentative. I'm afraid of rejection, I guess. I try to offer support whenever and wherever I can, but I'm reluctant to ask for it. Consequently, a lot of the time, I feel misunderstood and isolated. Occasionally, I step outside my comfort zone, and try, in my own awkward way, to ask for help. Usually, no one even recognizes my feeble attempts, hence they don't respond how I wish they would, and the vicious cycle continues.

People often say, "I'm here if you need anything," and then wait. Wait to be needed, I guess. I do it too. It's easy to say, and we are always genuine in our assertion. But in some cases, in my case, I am never strong to admit I'm weak--never brave enough to say I need something. I remember one of my very dearest friends holding me tightly by the shoulders, looking straight into my eyes, and saying, "What do you NEED?" I couldn't name it. My husband says all the time, "What can I do for you?" I don't know. Seems like I know it when I get what I need, but I certainly don't know how to ask for it.

Sometimes it is as simple as asking the right question. Sometimes it takes persistence. Sometimes it just takes showing up at the right time. People always tell me they are "here" for me. I don't really know what to do with that. There are people I trust with my secrets, people I trust with my kids, people I even trust with my life, but there are very few people I trust with my heart.

Last Sunday at church, the pastor said something that resonated with me in a profound way: "As long as we are growing, we will always be outside of our comfort zone." I never really considered that. I try to grow and change right here in my safe little place without risking rejection or pain. Pain sometimes finds its way into my safe place, but I certainly don't go looking for it. And I certainly don't open myself up to anything that could possibly hurt me if I can avoid it. So, I have been trying to take baby steps outside of my comfort zone. I'll admit, I've only tiptoed out and then quickly run back inside. It's a start though.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Feel free to stop right here...

I have been in a really bad mood lately. Disgruntled, snippy, short-tempered. I am chalking it up to the fact that, due to computer issues, I have been unable to write. All of those crazy thoughts that bang around in my head have had no escape. I could have taken the pen and paper approach, but I am part writer, more editor, and significantly more perfectionist. So cutting, pasting, deleting and rewriting on a computer with no scratching out, erasing or other unseemliness appeal to me. The very idea of writing my thoughts on paper with just one hand; well, it doesn't even seem like a possible outlet for the chaos upstairs. Sometimes my hands move so fast on the keyboard I don't even know what they're typing, until I put my editor hat on and shred it. I think that is part of the therapy.

I was so excited to be able to write. So many things have been ready to burst out of my skull, that now I can't even pick just one. Therefore, I am just going to vent and hope this disjointed diatribe of dysfunctionality lifts my spirit and unburdens my mind and soul.

This has really been weighing on me. Stephanie Meyer. Is there a class action lawsuit against this woman for jacking up the ideals of the next generation? Teens and tweens alike are destined for disappointment when they realize that love like Bella and Edward's doesn't exist in reality. Soulmates and perfect love and sparkling in the sunlight. Ugh. I am not sure who I feel worse for: the girls, doomed to constant disappointment or the boys, measured against a fictional character, in comparison to whom they will always pale. Figuratively, anyway. That Edward's a pasty fellow.

And it's not just kids. When I listen to Chloe ramble on about it, I start getting pissed at Brad. For what? Because he's not a vampire? Because he doesn't stay awake at night and stare at me while I sleep? That would creep me out. I am very extremely independent and the thought of someone being that wrapped up in me makes my throat start to close. As it is, I find him (Brad, but I guess Edward too) a little too needy, and all he (Brad, not Edward) really wants is for me to make eye contact once in awhile.

Course, the reason I don't make eye contact lately, is because sometimes my eyes give too much away. My birthday is coming up. No, I don't care about getting older. It's just that my birthday brings all sorts of unpleasant dates along with it. Dead brother's birthday, friend's death anniversary, brother's death anniversary, and now, gulp, in February, it will be one year since my dad died. Not too sure how that flew by, I guess in a haze of tears, and cheers, and anti-depressants. However it went by, it did. One day at a time.

All this sadness intermingled with mine and Chloe's birthdays. And I don't want to talk about it anymore. I mean I do, but I don't. Seems futile. How many times can you cry about the same stuff? Unfortunately, there are a couple people, I'm looking at you, Sue Mizik, who have this amazing knack of seeing more than I intend to reveal in my eyes, and calling me on it. Brad sees it too, but he's a top-notch sweeper-under-the-rugger, so he usually doesn't comment. And that's fine. Because Sue Mizik will. Then she'll provide a proper therapeutic intervention, complete with home brews.

And in the midst of all this, all I can do is pray. Pray that God will wake me up in the morning. Some days, I pray that he will drag me out of bed and stand me on my feet or pick me up and carry me down the stairs, depending on the day. I pray that useless as I feel some days, God will use me for His purposes, not mine. And lately, I pray He will take away this resentment and bitterness that I carry around like a holstered weapon and pull out all too frequently. For good.

I didn't realize how much resentment and bitterness I had until my sister gave me a book, Battlefield of the Mind. In fact, I didn't realize I'd met Joyce Meyer, but if I haven't, how on earth could she have spoken directly to me? How could she tell my stories and see inside to those dark parts of my psyche that I would be ashamed even to share with my best friend? Well, my best friend knows about them, but she's pretty unique.

But, it's a new day, a new year, and a chance for new beginnings. I didn't make any resolutions this year because they just backfire and turn into a reason to beat myself up, and I all ready do plenty of that. So I am trying to do more stuff that is good for me and less that is bad. Love my husband, kids, family, family, friends and everybody else better each day. Get closer to God. And forgive myself when I fall short. Because I always fall short. Those kind of sound like resolutions, but they're not. I guess they're more like revelations. I have heard you have those around milestone birthdays. Oh wait...it's not that birthday yet.