Saturday, June 7, 2008

The wickedness of a passive person - warning: contains stuff about feelings

I know I just wrote a blog about how I love to write silly things, but I'm not in a silly place this morning.

I haven't been an entirely good person in the last year, and I'm reteaching myself things like honesty and responsibility. I'm not an asshole in the typical way. I'm not in your face about it, like a token jerk on a reality show that no one likes, but everyone watches to see what he'll do next. My meaness is more annoying than that because it's not intentionally mean. In fact, in the beginning it looks like I'm being a sweet person.

See, I'm terrified of people being mad at me. This is something I kind of knew about myself before, but in the last year it's become painfully obvious. I'll do anything to keep someone from getting mad at me or being disappointed in me which means I do a lot of the following: make commitments I can't keep, overextend myself to the point of exhaustion that makes me edgy around Chris and the kids, do things that I know are wrong, lie to make people happy, and lie to myself so that I can keep things going. An example of this is the frequent thought, "This is ok. I can handle this. I'm ok. I'm ok as long as they're not mad." So I've unintentionally hurt a lot of people recently. I'm trying to learn how to accept responsibilty for all the trouble I've caused without punishing myself so harshly that I don't learn anything. This is a tricky bit of self-displinary acrobatics.

Because I'm my worst bully. If I'm anything less than a perfect mother, wife, daughter, and friend I beat the shit out of myself inside. Plus I have to be a perfect writer. I drove myself so crazy trying to finish the book that I didn't enjoy writing it. I kept thinking, "I have to finish it quick, I have to send it out NOW" as if I only had six months to live. And I don't know, maybe I do only have six months to live, but even if I do why would I want to spend the short time I have left making myself insane?

I overextended myself so much last year that I flattened into paste. I lost sense of who I was, and finally had to tell friends and family that I needed a social break for a long while. Because, besides overextending myself for the people who are good in my life, I tend to attract people who take full advantacge of my inability to draw boundaries and I'm easily manipulated. This is my fault just as much as it is theirs and I sick of letting myself get bullied. I'm tired of being cowardly and pathetic. I guess that last sentence is a good example of how mean I am to myself. I would never call someone else cowardly and pathetic on the internet.

Hence all the yoga, therapy, and readings about truth, God, and the practice of happiness. I've only been practicing self-love for a couple of months, but I'm already seeing small signs of improvement. I stick up for myself. I tell people no when I need to (most of the time). I still lie sometimes, but a couple of times I've gone back and said, "Dude, I don't know why I said that. That wasn't true." Like, a week or so ago I told my friend Jennifer that I sent her a package that morning when, in truth, it was still sitting on my dresser. What was the point of that? It was a small lie, but it was unnescessary. Jennifer and I send each other presents way after Christmas and birthdays anyway, and we don't let little things like that get to us. If Jenn didn't send me anything for my birthday it wouldn't be a big deal. She's still an awesome friend, and has been for alomost twenty years. So I called her a few days later and said, "Dude, sometimes I lie and I don't understand why. I'm sorry." She laughed and said it wasn't a big deal. She didn't hate me like I was afraid she would. She didn't say it, but I also got the feeling that she already knew about my impulsive lying. Have I mentioned she's stuck with me for almost 20 years?

Anyway, I'm trying to be a better, more confident person who loves people right. Oh, and about the writing. I can honestly say that (with the excpetion of what I need to write for work) if I'm not enjoying what I'm writing I stop. Whipping myself to finish the book, an essay or a short story takes all the joy of it away. For me, writing is like breathing. I've stressed myself out so much about it that every now and then I'd give it up, but whenever I stop writing it's like holding my breath. When I sit down again to write a few frantic, breathless days later it's an intense release, like I've spent too much time under water and I break the surface blowing the retained breath out like an explosion and I gasp on the intake. I don't want to do that anymore. I want to breathe slow and easy. I used to stress myself out by thinking about other writers who were famous by my age. What was the point of that? Being famous sets you up for constant ridicule and, like I said, I want everyone to like me. I'm not ready to be well known. Until I build my confidence and become better at taking criticism without it eating me alive, I'm not ready to be published.

So now that I've been honest with all of you, of course, I'm terrified that you won't like me. But I suppose if you don't then you'll just stop reading and I won't know it anyway. So this works out great. You know how I'm flawed, I'm being 100% honest, and my audience can passively like or dislike me. Sweet.

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