Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Irritating my Friend and Gaining a Calling

Tonight was my usual discussion night with my friend, but things were a bit out of kilter. For one thing, I'm coming out of a period of inaction, which has been troubling me. I sometimes get frenetic bursts of energy (even more so than usual) and create massive to-do lists and resolve to get my life and my act together, or choose some difficult or distant goal to work toward. Then I go through a brief active, fertile period, when I plow through several challenging items at a time or socialize more than usual. Afterward, I get overwhelmed and slow down again. I get tired and go into a kind of slump, during which I escape from my problems instead of tackling them head-on. It's a cycle I go through on micro and macro scales, and I try lately to just accept that and be forgiving of my fickle moods.

So, despite a huge amount of mental activity lately and a brewing and mixing up of strange cocktails of ideas, I haven't been doing a whole lot. I have been going to work and doing enough to get by, keeping my household running, and meeting my family obligations. Just keeping up my daily routine is enough work, when I let myself settle into it. But it's boring for me and after a while I get that restlessness again.

So I started discussing things with my friend, who is ordinarily almost heroically patient with my need to think out loud and to plod over familiar ground more than once. She wasn't feeling well, and was a bit more short tempered with me than usual at the beginning of the conversation. I started to feel that I was irritating her when she started offering me solutions to some of the problems I had brought up, and I started to feel defensive.

I have several close friends that I confide in, and of course I have my husband. Whenever I do confide in these close friends, I let many of my walls down. Not all of them, of course, but in trying to share the contents of my mind, I must verbalize, and in verbalizing my innermost thoughts, I make myself vulnerable to hurt. I don't always enjoy opening myself up in this way, yet at the same time, to talk is to experience one of the deepest and greatest pleasures that I desire. The friends that know me the most and the deepest and the longest over time are the ones I most trust. Even so, sharing leaves me open to that innermost shame that I found so difficult to express a few posts back. What if others see into my heart and reject what they find there? What if they don't love me? Will I survive? It's always a shock when I run smack into that deep-seated fear and anxiety.

Because she's my good friend and because we have built this relationship of trust over time, I know that my friend gives me the benefit of the doubt when I say something foolish, when I am inconsistent, when I am irrational, and when I allow myself to be vulnerable. So I also gave her the benefit of the doubt, and tried to listen. The conversation continued, and I felt hurt, but did not bring the walls back up. I just stumbled and then kept going, and my friend was graceful enough to let me continue in my own course. But her criticism was accurate and valid: basically, she wondered if my never ending quest to pin things down and label them, to understand them in the context of a framework and endlessly analyze them, was preventing me from actually taking action to solve the issues.

I guess this is the same as the line I used on my husband last week, which was "I think my problem is that I think too much." He thought this was quite amusing, since I was thinking about thinking too much. I was hurt by that, too. It's hard being oversensitive. I'm just really in earnest about this stuff. It's not that I don't have a sense of humor, because, come on, I'm ridiculous and I know it. But I'm also vulnerable. The problem with really caring is that I really care. The problem with really feeling deeply is that I really feel deeply. I say these things that come out so silly, but in my heart of hearts they aren't silly. They are deeply felt. I know it's hard to understand because I don't understand it either.

I have a deep place that feels deeply. When I speak from this place, I speak the truth as I know it. It's what my heart desires. When I speak from this place it is serious, it is in earnest, it is with passion, and it is with deep and terrible fear and pain and vulnerability. I most often expose it unintentionally, while thinking out loud with a close and trusted companion. The opening up of this place and airing out and clearing out is always refreshing and a relief. Sometimes I really can laugh at it afterward. I guess there's not necessarily anything rational about this song from the deepest heart of my being. It's difficult for me to even put all this into words without being sentimental or romantic. Words like yearning and longing and desire come to mind. I guess these are all romantic ideas, so I do have to be skeptical about all of this that I am expressing. I wouldn't want an unkind observer to this writing experiment. I'd be eviscerated in moments.

Anyway as usual I didn't mean to write anything at all like the above at all. I swear something just comes along and takes over my fingers every time I sit down. A committment to total honesty hasn't fixed whatever it is that ails me.

The conversation with my friend continued and got lighter and more fun. I mentioned that I had been daydreaming about starting a church in my new hometown, and I was oddly touched by my friend's supportiveness of the idea of my someday becoming a Unitarian Universalist minister. So in the same evening, I was hurt by her honest opinion and comforted by her honest opinion. I guess that's just another way of saying that I really value this person's opinion! And in case she ever reads this, you know who you are, and I'm glad you are my direct and honest you. I even trust you with the wacky stuff I try not to tell anyone else.

No comments:

Post a Comment