Monday, November 01, 2004

Just who the &@*#! does she think she is?


I ask the question of myself - just who do I think I am, that I'm telling you all what to do? Here I sit, humbled yet again, thank God. It’s been a weekend of the highest highs, and the lowest lows. As I was considering just one of the many lessons that were sent my way yesterday, about which I will tell you soon, I asked my husband, almost in despair, “How many layers am I going to have to peel from this onion before I get rid of all my pride, anger, and defenses?” Even as I asked it, the answer came to me: hopefully, not until I'm dead. If I quit changing, I quit growing, and boy, do I have some growing to do.

It’s not really like an onion, though. I think it’s more like the TV commercial I used to see all the time when I was a kid – “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop?” Onion layers peel off cleanly and precisely. I am more like the Tootsie Pop, the hard shell being worn away little by little, unevenly, and occasionally life takes a big bite out of that shell to expose more and more of the soft center. I like my shell, though. I’ve used it for years to keep things (people) out, and to keep other things (me) in. A hard shell is good protection, but if I hide inside of it, I can't reach anyone outside, and they can't see me.

“A Friend” posted another comment recently that was filled with excellent questions – questions I have to answer. If I finally forgot myself long enough to let some light in, then I think I understand that my friend is telling me I’m not going to be able to help anyone else until I have been helped myself. Hope and healing – it exists, and I have to get there, and I want to share it with you, so if you are in need, like me, maybe we can go together.

I guess the first thing I have to do is stop trying to reason my way out of things, to get rid of the voice that can turn people off. There is such an enormous difference between intellect, emotional maturity, and spiritual enlightenment. I learned this from people with more wisdom than I possess, so we can rely on it. I may have been intellectually gifted, but I’ve remained emotionally immature and spiritually retarded for a very long time, particularly because I’ve always tried to use reason and intellect alone to deal with life’s experiences.

I objectify (if that's a word) my own experiences, to remove myself from the emotions and talk about it in the third person. For example, as I considered answering the question why I was sexually active at such a young age to begin with, my first tendency was to talk about all the statistics relating to girl children who have no father figures, etc., blah, blah, instead of talking about what happened to me, and why I strayed from what was right, and what the emotional consequences were for me, personally.

As a result, when I explain just about anything, I sound arrogant and rude, because I distance myself from the pain or sorrow, or whatever emotions surround the subject. I sound as if I am above making all of the mistakes that the rest of the world makes, and I sound as if no one but me knows the truth. My tone is condescending because I use too much explanation. It isn’t that I think others are stupid, even though it sounds that way – I really feel as if I don’t communicate well unless I can explain it all, and the explanation is for me, and not for my listener - but I don't convey that impression.

Arrogance and condescension: this is so far from what I really feel inside. I’m only just beginning to learn why others have always felt so ambiguous about me. I have more compassion for other people than I reveal, and as you get to know me, you learn this. But I’m so off-putting at first that it’s difficult to get to that woman, the one who might be likeable and kind. She hides behind the know-it-all, the control freak, the pontificating bitch. Just ask my husband – he has learned all kinds of tricks to get through the shell, to get to the woman who can act unselfishly, even if she says all kinds of bunk in the process. I thank God for him.

I am not really as judgmental as I sound, which always shocks people when I tell them that – unless they see proof of it, they don’t believe me, and I can’t blame them. And if they do see a softer side of me, it sure doesn't reconcile with the hard shell. The criticism, argumentativeness, defensiveness, and arrogance that you hear when you listen to me: all of it is self-directed. I’m never as hard on others as I am on myself. Not to use psycho-babble, which I hate, but I am really not in touch with my own emotions – not yet – so my voice is too often harsh and edgy and sounds as if it is directed outward. I find my own emotions difficult-to-impossible to handle, because they can’t be reasoned with. Joy is just as hard to take as sorrow; criticism as hard to take as praise; and dislike is easier for me to accept than love.

If you hear my true voice, the honest one from my heart, it’s not so bad, I guess. I have received the kindest responses from the people with whom I’ve been the most open, even though at times the truth is mixed in with the arrogant garbage. If I preach at you, then you will know I’m touching on something deeply personal, an area in which I have failed, most likely. I hope to learn to talk to you in a voice you will like to hear; to be completely honest with you and with myself; to expose the soft, chewy center where I hide; and not to be ashamed of being fallible, emotional, and human.


At 10:50 PM, Blogger a friend said...

YOU GOT IT! I was reading your letter to the pastor first, and I was so frustrated when I read that you wrote about statistics, etc...I could tell you were burying your pain in those numbers

Tell people about the small microcosm that you lived in....You write VERY well....but you need to put your emotions and mind back together again

Go to Project Rachel, or start one in your parish or a search on, or I can find it for to a priest who is trained in this and can help you

or go on a Rachel's Vineyard retreat

When people hear 3000 people died on 9/11, it's one thing - but when they hear about ONE person, it's another thing

You need to understand your own life - what you might have been able to do differently, before you tell others what to do

Again, this is not a criticism! Maybe you FEEL as if could have done nothing, but another part feels you could need to reconcile this, to see your life from the grown-up perspective that you should have now, instead of as a 16 year old

NOT all 16 year olds are sexually active! Even if their fathers are absent....What did you want from sex at that age? Power, love, connection, belonging, acceptance - you probably still want those things now...if you address these 'issues,' it might also help you be more effective

You sound like someone unsure of herself, but who with work, could be very confident

Give people more credit than you are giving them...we hear bad things about the Church, but it is a very good needs good people

I feel that you need to go inside yourself, and take the personal time, instead of going back

I read something that hit me once: 'you can never undo what you did.' You might be struggling with that

I hope you can work on yourself, so that it is less about you - that might sound mean, but we get bored with people who are too busy looking at their navel....If you do some 'hard work,' you might get out of that circle

I love Dr Phil and Oprah, I think they say the same things

Perhaps after healing, you can use your communication skills to talk to others, and you will feel good about this

I feel you are very 'superficial' now, wanting someone to do the probing for you - no, it's always our own work - and it's hard (I mean anything about changing ourselves), but no one can take it away from you

Don't you want some of the weight lifted from you? And to work with others who are helping save lives? (they have an 'e-mail buddies' area)

and look! they have one in 2 weeks near you - a retreat - perhaps it is booked, but you can go on the next one

November 12-14, 2004 -- Mesa, Arizona
Local hosts: St. Timothy and St. Thomas the Apostle
Contact: Karen or Mary 480 329 6795

I am sure you will be 'heard' there - that is part of what is missing in your life...having people really understand you

Go soon, if you can, there isn't one at Mesa for the rest of the year listed

see also


Diocese: Phoenix
Project Rachel
Life Issues Office
Contact: Judy
Referral Phone: (602) 257-5639

Diocese: Tucson
Project Rachel
Contact: Fr. Dale Branson
Referral Phone: (520) 622 6749

Project Rachel
Contact: Fr. John Arnold
Referral Phone: (520) 782 7816

At 10:56 PM, Blogger a friend said...

I don't know why I wrote this, 'I feel that you need to go inside yourself, and take the personal time, instead of going back'

I think I meant 'going out' to others

What was in you that made you vulnerable?

Please, always remember this is the internet, and I don't know you - I just want to offer some help

You seem to be in great pain, and I don't think you have to continue in that pain


Post a Comment

<< Home