Archive for the ‘being resigned’ Tag

Assumptions

Wow, sometimes I think I might be prescient. I started writing this last Saturday, following a train of thought that has been nagging at the back of my brain on and off for a while now. A couple of things have happened in the three days since I started writing that seem to confirm all my thoughts on this topic. Weird how the brain works sometimes.

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Everyone assumes things, big and small, right and wrong, from time to time. There are some overt assumptions given as a starting point in certain situations that everyone involved agrees to be true. But often when we speak about assumptions it is in the context of blind assumptions, those thoughts that set a baseline, coloring our actions and outlook on a given topic, person or activity, without much basis for that thought or opinion. Those kinds of beliefs can be tricky to navigate and hard to challenge and change, especially when they are about ourselves.

Lately, I have been encountering assumptions that I have about myself in odd, unexpected ways. For the most part, I think that’s a good thing. Being aware of what we think about ourselves helps us examine our path and can help us make good choices (or bad) and take us in new and exciting directions. It can also make us retrench in those beliefs, habits, practices that we find comfortable and true, often regardless of other knock-on effects of keeping those things in tact.

At times, I feel that this constant self-examination, endless striving to improve, to be and remain positive, to challenge every shortcoming, is just another treadmill of “not good enough”. It feels like all this self awareness, personal growth and discovery work is more about destruction than construction. Some days it feels like there’s nothing good enough in me and I’ll have to completely remake my entire being in order to get to a place where I can look at myself in the mirror (both physical and metaphorical) and be content that the person looking back is acceptable.

This self assumption of inadequacy is insidious. It lurks in places you don’t ever expect to find assumptions. There are plenty of overt, obvious places where it is easily recognizable. These are predictable and annoying, sometimes hard to cut loose, but they don’t have much camouflage and are capable of being tackled head-on. The cynic in me sometimes thinks these are intentional distractions, ruses placed by the subconscious to divert attention from the deeper places where this assumption truly lives, to make it nearly impossible to root out and eradicate. If all our energy is focused on the surface assumptions, then the roots have time to go deep and unchallenged.

A place I’ve recently confronted this assumption – that I am not and will never be good enough – is superficially obvious, but there’s a taproot from the obvious surface to the hidden depths that I didn’t expect. And that unexpectedness makes me question if it’s really an irrational assumption or just the plain truth that I have to accept.

The surface bit is easy: I encounter disapproval/rejection/reprimand and I immediately assume I’m in the wrong or not up to standard, so that treatment must be deserved and I need to change and improve to be worthy of better treatment.

Now, clearly, there are times when everyone falls short and that self-castigating assumption is accurate. Being a mature adult means taking accountability for our mistakes and flaws and committing to do or be better. This is a healthy response to confronting personal shortcomings.

But the deeper bit is harder to articulate. It’s part “I’m working really hard to improve X quality/personal trait yet am not seeing expected results” and part “damn, I thought I’d mastered that one, but I guess not”. I guess what it boils down to is that frequency matters, more so than personal effort. Basically, if criticism is repeated, especially when it comes from different sources, then I gotta think that it’s not my irrational insecurities, but fact.

That’s painful on a lot of levels, but mostly it hurts to know that my inner saboteur was right all along. It’s painful and embarrassing to discover that I was a fool to take comfort in the easy platitudes of well-meaning acquaintances who urged me to believe myself to be good and smart and worthy, when my brain was telling me where I was falling short of all of those standards.

So what do you do when the illusion is revealed and all your comfortable self beliefs are debunked by cold fact?

I suppose the healthiest response is to redirect all that self-improvement energy to a more realistic, achievable goal. When your inadequacy has been proven to be reality, get to work on becoming adequate. Seems fairly straightforward. But so much in life that seems simple is not. Bootstrapping yourself to the finish line from square one is really f’ing hard and exhausting. Especially when the leaden weight of failure is still hanging around your neck.

So the real question is how do you take that leaden noose off your neck?

Let me know when you find out, won’t you?

Boundaries

“You set the boundaries, and I’ll respect them.” Rueing making that statement. Not because I want to hurt or disrespect your choice, but because it is in me to push against every boundary I meet. My very nature rebels at constraint.

I’ve never been a believer in “it’s best for you”, or “you’ll understand later”. I know that growth takes time and too much too soon isn’t good. But, just as with every horizon, beyond which a peek at beauty is visible, the urge to rush forward is palpable and hard to check. But, to respect the boundary set, I must go slowly, carefully.

So, this is me, being good, respecting boundaries, being a graceful loser.

Yeah, right! Inside, I’m sticking out my tongue and yellin’ “nanny, nanny boo boo!” at all the lines I just crossed in my head. I am fully aware how childish that is. I’m a little ashamed at that reaction. But it remains, nevertheless.

In real life, in interactions with people, I follow the rules. So, lines drawn push me to reflect internally, instead. I build the world where that line doesn’t exist, inside my head.

I have a vivid imagination. I see every detail of the stories I weave. My scenes are rich, plush, dressed to the nines and the action is rapid and explosive.

The thing about a floodgate is it’s hard to close until after the torrent is passed. That’s how my creativity goes–in rushing waves of bright, colorful sparks. Then a lull, a calm before the next storm.

My creativity gate has been open for a while now. So the rush is still on. I can’t stop it. I don’t want to.

But I respect your boundaries, your process, and will not cross them

…except in the safety of my own mind.

Spackle

[Author’s note: Another raw mind dump. They may be common for a while.]

Here’s where the ‘searching’ part becomes a labor of Hercules. When committing to see the beauty without regret, I didn’t anticipate that I’d be walking uphill against an avalanche.

Where does the line lay between ‘fake it ’til I make it’ and plain ol’ fraudulent deception? Is there such a thing as too much grace in withdrawal?

I’m revealing the cracks in my facade. I want to truly be the brave, graceful, generous heart that I present to the world, but my selfish nature heaves up and cracks the smooth surface.

I need some spackle, something to fill in the cracks when my bravado fails. Sleep, rest may be the solution, in time. But right now, I need something more durable, like concrete.

But since that’s not available, I’m gonna boot-strap myself up and out the door, slapping a smile on my face and buckling down to the work I neglected yesterday.

Faking it ’til I make it.

Song of the morning: Bleed It Out – Linkin Park

Easy Peesy

While out with the sis-in-law today (carrying the bags as she shopped), I got a lot of stares, quite a few ” Sirs”, and even overheard a few muttered epithets thrown in my direction. This is a common occurrence, as my appearance isn’t what people expect. And different often = bad or scary to some people. One comment in particular got to me: “Geez, why can’t she at least make an effort to look like a girl?” This made me think about how hard it is sometimes, being different.

“Do as I say.” “Listen to me.” “Obey.” “Life is easy, simple if you follow the rules.”

These and so many more platitudes and oversimplifications comprised the soundtrack of my youth. (Well, that and ” shut the door!” and “don’t sass me, missy!”). The theme being that I would have no questions, no strife, no unhappiness, if only I would conform.

God, how I longed to be able to do so!

But I was never a conforming child. Not in looks, mannerisms, preferences, thought processes. I was an odd duck from day one. Born late to unsuspecting parents and siblings who were all convinced the family-building phase was long finished, I began life on the wrong foot and never found the path to normal (wherever that is).

Some of my earliest memories include laments of my mother or brothers about my quirks, which were annoying or embarrassing to them. I vividly recall being sent home from Kindergarten with a note pinned to my shirt telling my mother that I was unprepared to be in school, as I couldn’t count or recite the alphabet. She immediately marched me back to school and demanded I demonstrate that, in fact, I could do all and more of what was expected. When questioned why I didn’t do so in class, I politely pointed out that I was not told to do so; rather, I was asked if I wished to do so and I didn’t at the time. (Literal and linear-minded even then.) I watched my mother’s face redden and her lips thin and her nostrils flair, and knew that I had again missed the ‘normal’ mark.

Even at 5, I knew I wasn’t like everyone else. I knew that I was somehow wrong, defective. And all my life growing up, as I heard those pleas for me to just do it normally, just be like so-and-so, I knew it was futile. I could never be normal.

I didn’t like what other girls liked. I didn’t want to eat or wear or play with the things other girls my age did. Every school clothes shopping trip, every Easter and Christmas portrait session, involved tears and threats of dire consequences if I didn’t “straighten up and act right” (which meant “put on the damn dress and quit crying about it”). By the time I was 12, my mother labeled me “her tomboy” in that defeated way mothers have and then gave up trying to force me into being and acting “like a lady”.

That didn’t stop me wanting to be what was expected, to be that perfect girl that would make my mom smile at her pretty clothes and prim manners and dainty features. I wanted that so badly I could taste it.

But even I could not deny that me in a dress was like putting a wig on a pig. I knew in my deepest heart that I could never become that girl, that woman. Beyond the clothes, I am the antithesis of ladylike. Big, lumbering, klutzy, rough-and-tumble, yes. Polite, considerate, fun loving, yes. Well behaved, studious, humble, yes. But genteel, refined, dainty, graceful, socially adept, comfortably outgoing and womanly? No and never.

So, I gave up any illusion of conformity. Instead, I resigned myself to being the odd one in any group and to hearing sighs of frustration from all feminine women (mother, relatives, shop keepers, nurses, etc.) who ever had to deal with my body, image, apparel or presentation.

As an adult, I’ve never looked back. I look like everything a woman isn’t. There is no femininity about my appearance, even when I wear a pink hoodie or purple tee shirt. I’ll always have a masculine appearance and energy that can’t be masked by fabric color, cut or trim.

Yet, this isn’t conscious bravery or rebellion against patriarchy. I simply am incapable of falsifying myself. As much as I have yearned to just fit in, I cannot compromise the integrity of my person, my truest self, for the sake of a societal norm. I feel a compulsion to present myself as naturally as possible, without artifice or guise. That leaves me looking plain on my best days, ugly on my worst, but always myself.

So, if conformity is the path to an easy life, I’m never going to know easy. That’s ok, I’m used to the hard way.

Cowardice

Fear is a lifelong companion. Not a healthy friend, for the most part, but occasionally useful. When danger is real, fear can be life saving. But when danger is imagined, distorted out of proportion, or a reasonable risk, fear is a hindrance to growth.

All very logical and clinical and, in the midst of the battle, utterly useless.

Logic and intellectual knowledge are not proof against the paralysis of fear. The fear of change, rejection, loneliness, loss, powerlessness, emptiness. These seem so much bigger, more important than the speculative benefits of a risky, life-changing decision.

So much safer, easier to keep small, keep quiet, don’t make waves, don’t disrupt the status quo. Even if the status quo is misery, it’s familiar, predictable misery that can be managed to a degree. That fabled freedom, lightness and acceptance that authenticity is supposed to bring seems, at best, gossamer-thin compared to the thick, stinging whips of consequence that follow in its wake.

This isn’t advocacy for succumbing to fear. These are the things I tell myself to rationalize my response to fear. Pathetic, really, but still…

Internally, deep inside where I’ve let no one see, I’ve recognized who and what I am, have always been. The choice isn’t in accepting that truth. The choice is whether to ever say it out loud and make it real.

Two+ decades of adulthood, of experience and education have dropped me off on the doorstep of Decision Making Time. I don’t recall setting a course for this destination, nor do I particularly want to be here right now. But life moves and you either travel with it, or get trampled by it. I’m not into trampling.

So, here’s the options: Continue the journey, find the me life is revealing to me bit by bit, and assume the risks & consequences of the discovery and ultimate disclosure? Or, stifle that inner voice and dig into the stagnant loneliness of lost opportunity?

That’s rhetorical. I’m already on the path, come what may. I’m just steeling myself for the train wreck that’s coming. Months, years, decades from now? Who knows, but if I know anything about my life, I know that every unpleasant thing I’ve ever tried to avoid happened despite (sometimes because of) my efforts to avoid it. So too, I am certain of this: that fear I’m battling? It’s well-founded. The wreckage that will come from owning this discovered self out loud and every day isn’t speculative.

So, being discovered is inevitable. Ok. So, my job now is to learn to confront the reactions I expect to result.

How the heck do I do that?

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