I'm Ok - A Love Letter (of sorts) to My Laids
The problem of looking for the good in people is that you eventually find it if you look hard enough.
It’s a real issue if you’re trying to die as a martyr on your high horse.
And I look awfully good on a high horse too.
Don’t you just want to hate someone when you feel like you’ve been wronged? That intoxicating taste of indignation that whets my ego’s appetite feels so good going down...but the hangover is something one doesn’t quite get over.
When you know, and I mean *really* know that someone done F’ed up, and it was directly at you, we all think the same thing: “I deserve to be this angry.”
Something about holding on to anger feels productive or something, doesn’t it? Clinging to a grudge can feel so much safer than the hurt that comes with the voices that ring in the vacuum of shame, vulnerability, and humiliation.
God, it hurts to see your own face in a reflection if we put the mask of anger down for a minute. It’s heartbreaking, really. Hurt comes with the territory of loving wholeheartedly, which may be why we have trained ourselves to brace for impact in relationships by keeping a distance between real love, and feeling like both feet are planted on the ground.
We forget that there are people out there that are ready to let us lean against them when we take the chance to step up onto our toes to see how far the gap is. They’re the same people that dust us off when we try to jump to the other side, and fall flat on our face.
That’s the expectation we should have for the people in our lives. We should expect that, when we need them, there are people who will be our leaning posts. Sometimes it takes practice, and some trial and error, but it should be the standard that our people try.
Unfortunately, pain is part of the territory when we’re doing things right. It’s what we do with the pain that makes the difference.
When I had The Great Meltdown (March 10, 2015 - A Day That Will Live in Infamy), and had to have a hard reset on everything I assumed was a norm, I learned a few inconvenient truths about myself:
- I learned that sometimes you have to lose everything to get back what is true.
- I learned that my anxiety makes me rigid and is most prominently expressed through anger.
- I learned that I can’t filter out pain, disappointment, and sadness without also losing joy, wonder, and gratitude.
- I learned that feeling a true range of emotions is confusing and overwhelming, and that I sometimes sort of miss living in a world where everything was negative and disappointing.
- And I’ve learned that no one will come into my life fully formed and/or exactly the way my expectations say they should be.
That last one is #theworst, because I think I’m pretty great, and I have a diagnosable problem with accepting mediocrity. The expectations I set for the behavior of the people in my life are so high that I am left in a constant state of disappointment - no one stands a chance of success with me under that kind of pressure.
God, I’m so anal that beads of sweat form on my brow just thinking about lowering my standards.
It’s really hard to balance your worth with your wants when it comes to people, isn’t it? I feel the same way about Amazon Prime.
Get thee behind me, Satan and two-day shipping.
The only thing worse than going through the world of self righteousness may be watching someone we care about go through it. They may see it as, at the least, justifiable anger - at most, just a funk. We see it as a deep seeded sadness that can’t be shaken.
We all know the person who is so sad the spend most of their days in bed because that is the safest place to be. And if it’s not the bed, it’s the couch. Or a barstool surrounded by friends. Or out going on a date every night so they’re not alone.
Our comfort blankets come in many shapes.
It may be the same person who broke up with their significant other for an endless amount of reasons - the lies, real and imagined; the manipulations and games; the lack of trust, and the inability to build it - and how they now feel truly lost in the murky depths without an idea of which direction to swim.
It’s in those moments when, while treading water just to keep their head in the air, that fear can turn into resentment and bitterness, leaving them feeling hollow and jaded, and (the worst of all the emotions) indifferent.
We know the kind of seeking desperation that makes us power-date in the hopes of finding ourselves through the rubble of the failed relationship that seemed to define us. We hope apps like Tinder will be the small drop of water that quenches our thirst through the dusty remains of the expectations that came crumbling upon us.
It rarely does though, does it?
Sometimes we run into a rare gem that changes the landscape that we thought we knew. Hold onto those gems tightly. They’re rare and precious, and worth treasuring.
And that’s the thing. We can’t avoid the hurt. We can’t avoid that sometimes people do things that aren’t ok. We may not even be able to avoid the anger.
What we can do is look for the ways to find understanding. For me it’s intentionally looking for the “other story.” I mean that sort of literally. When I don’t understand something that has happened to me, I now try to make up a story from the other perspective that makes sense.
Ain’t nobody got time for that, so sometimes it’s as simple as looking a little closer at someone’s eyes.
Eyes are the most interesting feature on someone. They hold all of a person’s dreams. All of their sadness. It’s where you can find all of someone’s secrets, and all of the things they are begging for another person to know. When you really look, you can see a person’s entire truth. As closely guarded as a person can be, they’re in those eyes, somewhere. Look closely and find something to find beautiful.
Sometimes it takes a passion to find someone else’s truth, especially when you don’t know your own. So maybe just find something about their outfit that you don’t hate, and stick with that.
I’m learning these lessons in real time in my little life. Coming to you live from the cavernous recesses of my mind....beware of dog.
For me, I’ve had the beautiful and brutal opportunity in the last year to find the beauty and joy and sadness and frustration of practicing what I preach week after week. That’s why I know it can be done - I’m doing it IRL (that’s “in real life” for those of us over 800 years old). It really is possible to be hurt and thankful, sad and joyful at the same moment.
It’s also ok to remind the people you’re being forced to watch go through something hard of this too. They can be ok again - they can also be ok now. Just ok. No one expects us to be anything other than ok.
And this is where a really good group of friends comes in. It’s also where the point of this whole damn diatribe finally reaches its head.
The biggest learning lesson in the last couple years has been one that is really hard to articulate to those that care about me - it’s hard to be heard when you’re not really sure what to say: now that I’m actually capable of feeling more than overwhelmed and angry, it can take me a while to sift through what emotions are actually happening. The crazy used to just be in my head, and now a consequence of actually talking about things is that sometimes 100 emotions come out at once. That can be very hard for someone to navigate.
The best part of the friends I have truly been #blessed to snag is that they are fiercely loyal. And that loyalty has never once been misplaced. That’s what years of careful cultivation gets you. While I’m down in the mud and dust, I’m surrounded by people who point their spears outward to protect me as I get up.
What matters is not that I’m never hurt, although that can be hard to watch. What matters is that I have the faith that my girls trust that when the dust finally settles, I will know my mind and will be able to get back to the things I do best.
They also have faith in me that I can feed nine hungry women with only two pizzas. I mean, I’m not sure, but I’d like to believe that if Jesus was here today, and he had to feed nine hungry women, and he lived in downtown Troy, he would have picked up two DeFazio’s pizzas too. It really is a miracle food.
So, thank you to The Laids tonight who listened and understood and really heard me - even the skeptics on the couch. It happens often and it’s never, ever overlooked. I’ve been able to lean against your stability when things felt less than solid under foot, and now I’m ready to move forward with all the love and generosity I can muster and offer it to others that deserve what we have.
God, we’re so great.