When do I betray?

5 09 2011

Alternate title: the one where I immediately regret pushing “publish”

**Note to family: this may hurt a bit. You’ve been warned**

My school places an astronomical importance on self-awareness, particularly in the context of the first-years’ core classes (which I am now taking for the second time ’round): Faith, Hope, Love; Interpersonal Foundations; Hermeneutics; and Practicum I–all of them are designed to push us out of our comfortable, habitual, generally unknowing ways of processing self and world and force us to make deliberate choices about how we are to be. It is disruptive, exhausting work. We are all fools to be so blithely walking off this cliff–and our professors double the fools for taking upon their shoulders some measure of responsibility for guiding each of us into the depths of our tumultuous mix of depravity and glory.

If there is one thing I learned through a year of beautiful agony it is this:

The last thing in the world I am prepared to grow in awareness of is my own secret self.

I was raised by a mother who is so afraid of becoming like unto her own parents she second-guesses everything about herself and a father who gleefully encouraged such self-doubt because it served his own hidden agenda. When confronted with the bitter truth that the man she married had been siphoning off funds to support a sexual addiction for nearly two decades, my mom’s most chilling response was “I’ve known something’s been wrong for years, I just always assumed it was my fault.” Not that she was the only one prodded toward the disowning of self; the aforementioned father continues to insist his children are culpable for his decision to hide the core of himself away from their innocent eyes.

I grew up in a church that prides itself on the denial of humanity. Their focus on carving the common-sensical truth of the Bible from the accretions of human history–originally intended as a movement to foster unity within the church–leaves the majority of believing Christians, let alone the willfully unrepentant nonbelievers, weeping in darkness as the gates of heaven are slammed shut.

I probably have the tropism “fake it ’til you make it” engraved upon my very bones. Only…I’ve tried to fake it, and what I’ve found is that the faking only becomes more extravagant and the making so infuriatingly elusive you eventually forget there was ever any greater goal in mind at all. The lies become your new truth. Desire is buried beneath a sludge of apathy and fear. Then one day, if you’re exceedingly lucky, the house of cards is picked up by a gust of wind and scattered across infinity and you are left exposed, naked and shivering. That’s the day you leave Texas (or whatever your barren desert is named) and move to Seattle (the promised land! flowing with…rain and ever more rain), where the most extraordinary people surround you and show you, tear by blessed tear, that there is another way to live: the way of opening yourself up to desire, not cutting it short; a way of vulnerability before others, without the need to constantly pretend to be better than they.

And yet…

The old patterns are proving to be ridiculously tenacious. Particularly now, as I’m in class with 99 fresh faces to whom I introduce myself as Tom “tried this all before and failed” Sheldon. Oh how taxing this honesty is, when my very introduction invites you into my bastion of shame! Is it just my imagination or do your eyes become veiled as I stand before you, tangible evidence that things aren’t guaranteed to work out as smoothly as you had to hope in order to pack everything up and move across the country to this tiny little gem of a school?

And now I’ve finally circled around to the question that compels me to pick at these sores tonight, that just won’t leave well enough alone (because “well enough” just isn’t acceptable any more, dammit!)

When is it that I betray my experience? Is it when you ask “why?” and I sidestep the utter chaos of my life with a vague allusion to some “personal crisis”?  Am I perpetuating self-abuse when I come home from class and watch Netflix until I pass out from pure exhaustion somewhere around 3am? When you ask how my trip home was and I answer “mostly fun,” am I doing justice to my experience?

Or is now the betrayal, when I type out my worry and confusion behind closed doors rather than seek out the presence of someone who will love me well?

No, I’m not ready for self-awareness. I can hardly handle the little I have. What good is the freedom to feel more fully when what crashes upon you are waves of inadequacy and longing?

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Color

31 05 2011

Seattle in spring bursts forth with a vibrancy of color I’ve not known anywhere else. Even on rainy gray days such as this one my walks are an exercise in ADD as my attention flits from red to blue to green to purple orange yellow green again pink and pause…breathe… With so much colorful splendor in my environs impressing itself upon me I’ve found myself compelled to attempt to create something, anything, with even the possibility of being as arresting as a simple flower. As soon as I move in July I will begin shaping my new space by planting and nurturing color (and food!), but until then I’m making do with watercolors and chalk–not the easiest media in the world to convince to play nice together, but two things that remind me of kindergarten and silliness for silliness’ sake.

I lean toward hiding these creative caperings from the world unless/until I feel I’ve crafted a masterpiece. It’s quite intimidating to even think about putting my amateur color blending skills on display where they can be critiqued and criticized and scoffed at. If I hadn’t just spent the holiday weekend alone in my room, becoming bored by my own company, I certainly wouldn’t be doing this. But I did, so I am, and together we’ll see what comes of it, eh?

I will make one allowance for my shame: you don’t get to see my creation unless you click on past the jump.

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Where is home?

21 04 2011

I wrote this in front of my fireplace in Colorado; I’m posting it from my couch in Seattle. It’s a delicious tension.

The last time I was here I felt my heart turn over one frigid December morning. Blurry-eyed and groaning from sleep disturbed, I thought to myself

I am ready to go home

I bolted upright, enough adrenaline surging through my veins to do the work of five cups of coffee.

Home? What do I mean, HOME? I am home!

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Courage to last into the night

8 02 2011

When I first began Project Rest it was formatted around the assumption, learned via a tapestry of life woven with threads of loneliness and dyed in various shades of anxiety, that peace was fleeting, ephemeral, gone almost before I even realized it was there. It seemed only natural to assume that all of my days when self-confidence and assurance were the dominant themes could be neatly contained within a bulleted list—hell, the memory of an entire day in which I lived free of the shackles of insecurity felt like a very distant thing, somehow wrapped up in the (irretrievably lost?) innocence of youth.

I now have a new reality to share, and share, and share again. In fact, in the last few days I have repeatedly found myself in the very strange position of having to force myself to stop talking and allow the person I’m sitting across from to get any words into the conversation at all. That’s ridiculous! and so foreign to my typical style of relating. What could possibly make me so gabby?

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and I will give you rest

3 01 2011

January:

  • New Year’s poker with great friends and inviting acquaintances: New Year’s eve/day
  • CoTA:Epiphany; (Take the) Long Way Around the Sea:1.2.2011
  • 6 hours of baking + one game of telephone pictionary = awesome 1.6.2011
  • A lap around Green Lake and sitting down to a marvelous spread of lamb, pita, and Greek salad knowing the only reason I eat alone is because I choose it to be so 1.7.2011
  • Virtually every single moment of our weekend getaway to Oregon. Highlights: Sharing secrets and first impressions in the hot tub. Cross-species bonding. Executing a perfect form tackle in the snow. Hiding out with Baby J. Scribbling in my journal after everyone else had gone to bed. Folding the towels. 1.14-17.2011
  • An hour with Paul feeling genuinely heard and cared for and the redemption of an old catchphrase, “Not yet” 1.20.2011
  • Two hours watching/playing with the sweet Sky and insouciant Graci 1.31.2011

February:

  • A) A rare moment of genuine, heartfelt tenderness toward that portion of myself tenaciously and abrasively demanding I face and fight all of my unresolved issues, which I am usually so quick to flee. B) Sharing Canal Street Coffee, Fremont Peak Park, and everything it means to live inside my skin with my lovely friend. 2.3.2011

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