Friday, August 4, 2023

The Strength to Be Vulnerable

I recently read a quote about it being beautiful when someone stays open-hearted and loving despite having had their heart broken to pieces more than once.

Aside from the idea of beauty, I think that it is actually really brave and strong to do this. In fact, I think that we confuse frightened, closed off people for strong ones. We often perceive someone who is stoic and shut down as being strong. But honestly, I know how much courage and inner determination it actually takes to stay open enough to love despite knowing the tremendous pain that can come with it. Think of the courage. Think of the fortitude of a heart willing to try again, even after it has been betrayed or smashed or traumatized on more than one occasion.

I always considered myself a relatively open-hearted person. But as I've learned in the last 6 years, my psyche had its limits. I've gotten older, I've gotten wiser and more cautious. And yet, I still realize how much I've had to learn and continue learning about discernment, recognizing harmful patterns, letting go, self love and boundaries. 

Each time I've gone through some kind of heartache I feared that I would never be able to open up again, the part of my heart allowing such feelings seemed damaged beyond repair. I truly feared that the open, passionate, loving me was broken and gone. And yet, I healed, with caveats, and time, and was able to try again. A miracle. 

I pray that this remains the case now. I pray (and I believe) that I still have that kind of strength. 

It's easy to close off and recoil in a shell of self-protection after life has hurt you so many times. But I don't want to do that. I don't always want what's easy. I want what's good, however that looks.

My hope is not to be a stoic, shut down ice figure. I don't want to become like the very people who have hurt me. I hope I will have learned the right things from life's tribulations. The key seems to be learning how to trust yourself and your own worth enough that you are confident you can remain open to love while still making sound judgments to take care of yourself. You care for yourself and love and choose yourself first. You set your standards and refuse to compromise what you deserve. And then when you come from a place of that, you feel a lot safer to risk your heart again. This is a lesson I wish I had understood when I was younger. It's also a lesson I wasn't experienced enough to grasp. When you love yourself enough, when you solidify your worth, standards and boundaries, you are much freer to love, knowing that if you have to, you can safely let go of what is not for you.

I've had to step up to this comprehension. This was a building process for me. Again I am humbled by life, humbled by what I did not know and what I continue to learn, about myself and others. I will never stop learning. There will always be wisdom to accrue. I accept that. My prayer for myself, and for everyone I care about, is that our hearts remain overflowing, while our spirits and backbones grow solid as deep tree roots in their worth.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The God of Weak Men

 I'm going to go ahead and say it. 

You DO realize that the Old Testament version of God is a legitimately sadistic narcissist, right? 

He wants to test if Abraham has complete and total loyalty, though Abraham has never given him any reason to doubt it, and so he tells him to kill his kid. MURDER HIS CHILD. To prove it. Like some kind of a desperately needy sociopath. "You love me? Kill your kid for a sacrifice for my pleasure. Prove your faith. I need to see it." Then they say he turns around and stops Abraham just as he's about to commit the act.  God let's out a giant "Psych!! I'm just kidding, man. Nevermind! Don't murder an innocent child. I'm satisfied that I could make you do literally anything now." 

Because even this God (or those who were creating him for the story) knew that letting Abraham go through with it would be an unrecoverable PR step too far. 

So Abraham goes ahead and sacrifices a lamb instead...because by darnit, Old Testament God appeared to really get off on seeing blood spilled in his name. I guess that nifty "Thou shalt not kill" thing was more of a "do as I say, not as I do" kind of situation. ;)

Of all the twisted, insecure, and psychotically needy things to do...that Old Testament God sure wasn't portrayed in a very flattering light. I mean, he wanted people murdered left and right. He ordered kids be stoned to death for disrespect, as well. It called him jealous. JEALOUS. If this didn't reflect the mindset of the times, and specifically the mindset of men, I don't know what did. They wanted to have uncompromising power, and so they invented a creator who did as well. This could justify any heinous action they wished to carry out. And it did. For some people, it still does.

None of the above is the trait of a 100% good, all knowing and omnipotent consciousness. These are all the traits of men. In fact they are the traits of the worst kinds of men. 

It is my strong belief that we paint God as we see ourselves throughout history. Which is why our idea of God has gotten softer, and kinder. Because we have as well. We have changed, we have grown, we are wiser, therefore our idea of God is as well.

There could very well be a Consciousness that animates all of us. But I still think a lot of us are a far, far cry away from understanding it. And we need to be careful not to emulate the traits of weak men parading as God. It has brought us nothing but heartache and violence. 

And yeah. I said what I said.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Rise or Fall?

I think that every nation starts to devolve and fall apart into explosion and ruin after enough time passes. Maybe it's human nature. Maybe the US has been riding the afterglow of its infant idealism and now its starting to turn on itself and crumble, as every great society has done throughout history, only to reform as something else, over and over again. Every more ancient country has endured ebbs of civilizations, free thought and intellect, only to be overrun with tyranny, back and forth, over and over. Many are more humble and less loud-mouthed now than the USA. And that's probably why. Human nature being what it's historically proven itself to be, are we really expecting America to act differently? Please.

Maybe it's the beginning of the end of American Democracy and a new era of something else...something more violent, closed minded, backwards. Perhaps not. Perhaps opposite. I don't know. And it might be a long, drawn out end, but an end seems inevitable.

In the long run, the human story has always been a tumultuous, wrenching and often miserable one. We can't help warring and fighting over the right to institute our religious beliefs, our rules, our desires upon the lives of others and society as a whole. Then people grow weary of being oppressed, rise up, and change things. Rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat.

It seems like, until we can learn to truly live and let live (not simply tolerate temporarily until we feel it's permissible to be tyrannical again), unless we can truly do this, the same old tumult and misery of human history is unavoidable. We have short memories for lessons learned. We're like twenty-year-olds who think they know everything, but what do we truly understand as we age? Only that we really don't know much at all. Humility is wisdom. Unlike any other species, humans have egos, and especially in America today, our egos are our Achilles heels. They drive us to fear, greed, apathy and war, over and over again. America is young. We're due some more growing pains. I just pray we make it past this self-destructive phase and learn to control our egos and reinvent ourselves well.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

With a Heavy Heart

Went to Metuchen to get a package I'd had delivered to little sister's convent today. I brought the nuns hot cocoa from Starbucks and dropped it off out front. Sister came out and we sat on the porch with our masks on for a little bit and just talked. I told her how much I missed her. I told her how heavy this life and human beings are weighing on my heart these days and how unbearably sad I've been feeling. I know I'm not the only one. I told her I miss her. I am tired of being alone, but it's the sacrifice worth making right now to do what's right. It just hurts. The visit was brief and chilly, but at least I got to see her eyes. I love her so much.
I'd planned to go pick up my groceries curbside after that, but when I went to start my car, the check oil/engine light came on. So a detour to Valvoline later, I finally got my food and headed the long way home, thankful that for the moment, I can cover the costs of an oil change and some groceries. I talked to whoever God is the whole drive home. It felt comforting, so I went with it.
This world is in a state. I feel the suffering all around me, and I am constantly crying. "Christians" of many a denomination have warped the life of Jesus into a greed-filled, fear-based, prideful power trip that gets twisted into violence and ignorance and spite. People are claiming to follow Christ or love God, they speak these names constantly and tout "personal relationships" with them...but they cannot let go of their greed, their malice and anger, their prejudice, feeling threatened by everyone and everything that doesn't agree with them. These people must infuriate whoever God really is. Humans...we're so very, very far off the mark.
But some of us are trying. We're trying just to care, about each other, about the whole world. We're trying to feel empathy and wishing to do good, regardless of what religion you might or might not be...even while every day is a struggle just to survive, feeling invisible to the wealthy, the prideful, the arrogant humans of this world who live in a state of desperate greed that creates immeasurable suffering to others. Those who suffer know what suffering feels like, and so it breeds empathy. Empathy...a missing vital ingredient in our culture.
Those who forego compassion for rage and power, I expect, will have much, MUCH to answer for.
It kills me, this constant question I have, what can I do with my life that's good? I so often feel like I spend all my time and energy just trying to survive. And as much as I want to live a life of serving and loving others, bringing hope, comfort, food, shelter, peace to others...all I seem to have the time to do is scrape together a living over the long hours, then start again the next day. When I talk to God I say, there has to be more I'm supposed to do...but HOW? How do I help the world in any significant way beyond writing a little song hardly anyone hears or singing something that doesn't put food in the mouths of others, doesn't create opportunity for those who don't have any? What book or poem can I write that will do anything real or impactful enough to make ANY kind of difference? I don't have the resources or the means to do anything else, but what I can do seems to make little difference to those who really, truly need it most desperately.
What am I supposed to do with my life? Not just what do I WANT to do, or what do I love to do. What am I MEANT to do for this world? And how do I get there?
All of these questions just keep erupting from my aching heart. There's too much pain around me, and yet I fear there is much more to come. Humans don't seem to change unless their guts are ripped to shreds and they are brought to their knees. I hate that that's the case, but we know it is. Humans are so very often fools.
Oh, man. What a mess we're in. What can I truly, meaningfully do? I hope God helps me understand that soon. Please, let me understand it soon.

Friday, December 11, 2020

What We Carry

It really dawns on me more and more sadly that I was brought up in an extended family full of deeply conceited, judgmental and snobby people. It was the recipe for misery and it was soul crushing. 

My family's conceit hasn't been earned. It had no real justification. But everything was centered around appearances over all else. I realize that's why certain aunts and uncles looked down on my siblings and myself. So much about us flew in the face of their narcissistic delusions. I saw a lot of it for what it was even as a child, but that didn't make it easier to survive. 

You had to live in the right house, drive the right car, own the right things, wear the right clothes, have the right looking body, have the right jobs, follow the right trends.... and generally behave like life was built on high school popularity parameters. If you were a waitress,  a service person,  if you dressed or acted outside the norm, chose to live small, alternatively, simply, non materialistically or just plain looked different.... something was wrong with you or you weren't good enough. Therefore,  living in a run down hell of a home like I did, wearing crappy clothes, being without parents,  the feelings of shame and inadequacy were unspoken...but constant. My brother and sister and I just didn't fit in.  We were an ugly blemish.  We shouldn't have existed, in some of their minds, but there we were... the family scandal. We felt it. It shaped us.

I think my family's behavior was a lot of overcompensation. A lot of them were people who didn't evolve or accomplish anything real with their lives and they were deeply screwed up, so all they had was an eternally aesthetic and materialistic way to feel better about themselves. It's pitiable.  But it did a lot if damage. 

A lot of them are very much the same, btw.

I told the truth, I stood up to them when I had to, I left their toxicity in the dust geographically. And yet, I spent many many years feeling like I had to live life in a way that proved my worth to them, even after I knew they were a mess and never deserved that power over me. It was programmed into my neurology to accomplish big enough things to try and make them accept me. Even though I moved away,  and despite my deliberate rebellions, I still partly avoided living my life on my own terms, according to my own preferences and inclinations, because a part of myself still remained back in Pennsylvania, subconsciously caring about who would look down on me for, say, wanting to live off grid, or in a tiny home. Wanting to live cheaply. Shunning the vapid, narcissistic vanity of my home culture. Working a non impressive sounding job. I mean, being raised in a home and coming from parental circumstances that brought constant shame to the family image really weighed down on my sense of self worth. I was still trying to prove my value....decades later.  

I still wrestle with these feelings, though now I recognize them. Not everyone I'm related to is like the above, but a majority of the people I spent my most consequential years with were. So many people are like them, because we live in a brutal culture. It expects more of us than we can really shoulder,  it demands we take on more than we may ever want. And it trickles down from there,  into the veins of our towns,  our families. It destroys people and it trains us to destroy the true happiness of our own in the name of pretending you've got it all together, with the proper aesthetics check marked for everyone around you to see. The thing is, I don't know about you, but I'm tired of it. I'm just plain tired...period.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Descending into Madness

A plee to my conservative friends leaving the general public for things like Parler.

I've seen the pro-raping and shooting-people-you-disagree-with messages out there in the right wing world, calling for re-voting an entire election until they like the outcome. 

And here's the thing. If our conservative brethren of a more sound mind think, for even a moment, that they can temper that rampant disease within their own demographic and overcome it by themselves....they are in for a terrifying awakening. Psychopaths and sociopaths filled with rage, delusional entitlement, hatred and fearful bigotry do NOT listen to reason. They just kill, they just bully, they strong arm with violent force...and they would take out a rational conservative just as fast as a liberal if they got in the way.

Please see reason. You're helping to create a tragic disaster.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Inbreeding Thoughts and Breathing Poison

Ugh. I'm seeing some Conservatives spreading all these nonsensical memes about fraud, military votes for Trump in PA being "thrown in the trash", etc, and it's all proven bullshit, but they believe it. They want to and NEED to believe it. They are going OFF on anyone trying to refute it with facts, complaining about "being talked down to" by "libtards", that what their experience of being presented with facts is? Being "talked down to"?

*Sigh* It is.

It makes me so grateful to have been rejected by my conservative family all those years ago. It saved my mind.

I've seen both ends of the spectrum of political social views. I was raised and believed in one for the first 20 years of my life, then was thrust into the world and forced to experience lots of other perspectives and people until I realized fully, and quickly, just how small, closed off and stubbornly blind people like the above are. They COULD, you see...they could go and learn. They could grow and see. They could understand. But they don't get that they need to. They are in a psychological bubble. They don't understand the reality of other people's experiences outside of their own. No one else's lives and thoughts are real or good because they're outside the comfort zone of what they've been raised with. It's too scary to even contemplate changing it. It feels so safe, their worldview. It's black and white, it has rules and a sense of control and knowing. And some folks are terrified of losing that security blanket of a life and way of thinking. It takes a brave (and often shamed) desire to go and learn and understand, making decisions to leave those kinds of folds. Most cannot and will not do it, and will only inbreed those thought children and conspiracy theories until they are so far out there and extreme that they are without logic. But it's their reality, and God knows they are just too damned scared not to hold firmly to their ship, sinking, on fire, full of the delusion and corruption that comes with preserving it.

So anyone who has learned, who has perspective, and tries to speak it to them---they are talking down to them. They are "lying". Because nothing outside the poison bubble is true. If you're always breathing in that toxicity, maybe you never learn how to breathe fresh air. Oxygen is scarier than poison to them, because it means questioning the unknown. Questioning themselves and life as a whole. And that's the scariest thing in the world for some people.