The Price of Being Real – Resistance is Futile
Today was not a fun day. Sometimes I have days like that. On days like this, my brain says, keep these emotions all to yourself. After all, I don't want to be that bummer, negative friend. You know, the drama queen. The crier. The one everyone talks about. The sad friend. The friend who is needy.
I don't want to be judged.
This takes my mind to the childhood book, The Velveteen Rabbit.
When all the playthings the children had loved and played with were old and worn out, the Magic Fairy would come and take them and make them "real". In the book, the rabbit became "real" when he shed a tear. He became "real" when he became vulnerable. When he showed emotion. Not when he felt emotion when he showed it to others.
People often tell me, Michelle, you are so real.
When I first was told this, I wasn't sure what it meant. After all, we are all real, right? We aren't stuffed animals. Then it occurred to me what they really meant to say was, I was visible, vulnerable, transparent, not faking my emotions. We can all tell when someone is not presenting from a "real" place. Basically, we know when someone is full of shit or acting.
I have noticed it is hard for people to be "real" in our culture. It's the new catch phrase. Real. I read about people being real and see people posting information on Facebook about being real. I also hear people talking about how wonderful it is to be real. To be transparent. How wonderful it is to be vulnerable. Wonderful? Hmmmmm.
Real doesn't feel wonderful to me. It feels emotional. Angry. Sad. Guilty. Hurtful. Mostly scary. Something I have noticed is people TALK about being real. I simply don't experience a lot of them actually BEING real and vulnerable. Why? For me it goes back to those same emotions. I am afraid to be vulnerable. There's judgment when you're vulnerable. There's judgment when you are mad, sad, negative, scared or anything less than a flawless perception of perfection. There's a risk of rejection. A risk of loss. Some people will go away from you because you're too negative. Some people will go away from you because they can't deal with your sadness, your neediness or grief. People will go away. It's uncomfortable. What I realized is, people will always go away. Real or not.
Vulnerability is not about Unhappiness
It may sound as though, for me, being vulnerable and real is about unhappiness. It's not. It's about showing my humanness. Happiness is just one of many emotions. Emotions are just that. Emotions. It is we, as humans, who put the judgment of positive and negative on them. It's bad to be sad. It's good to be happy. It's bad to be angry and so on.
I am a happy person for the most part. At least that is how I see myself. It's not about being happy. Happiness, like all emotions, is fleeting. Peace is a state of being. Peace is a place within my spirit that I can go and simply BE. Feeling all emotions, happy, sad, angry, joy, frustration, worry, and sharing them is what makes one "real". For me, life is about developing coping mechanisms that can bring me inner peace.
Becoming the Observer of My Emotions
Emotions come from my resistance to what is and my thoughts about "how" I am resisting it. My judgments to my own resistance. Today, I was a whiny little bitch.
In August, I had my left thumb operated on and now it's about 70%. That's really good compared to what it was when I started, so, I'm happy with that. Last Friday, I had my right thumb operated on. The surgery went well and is considered a success, so, I'm happy about that. There's not a lot of pain and no signs of infection, so, I'm happy about that. I have plenty of food to eat, so, I'm happy about that. I have a nice car to drive, so, I'm happy about that. I have an amazing home to live in, so, I'm happy about that. I have a ton of friends who are supportive and a loving family, so, I'm happy about that. So you see it isn't about being happy. I am happy with many things in my life.
Why am I emotional and being a whiny little bitch when I'm happy with so many things in my life?
Because I'm human of course.
What Happened Today – the Emotional Meltdown
I woke up and stumbled into the kitchen, grabbing my glasses off the night table. I made myself some coffee and started to get ready for my day. Doing things with one painful and recovering hand is a challenge. Most days Paul is around to help me but today he's at work.
I look down at my toes. I haven't had a pedicure in weeks. Good thing I will be wearing my shoes today and no one will see my toes. I groggily drag myself into the bathroom and begin the process of undressing with one arm to get into the shower.
Once in the shower, I struggle with soaping myself and shaving my armpits. Basic things for a woman, right? Once I finish my shower, drying off is a struggle. I can't get the towel wrapped around my hair. The frustration is mounting. My left arm is overworked and out of shape. I feel exhausted.
Drying my long hair takes some time and can be a challenge in and of itself. This morning it became my biggest challenge. When I couldn't get my hair to do what I wanted to do, I decided I would use a curling iron and then promptly burnt my forehead. Not one of my best ideas to use a curling iron with my bum hand. It's okay, I have many "mind tools" from my personal growth training so I talk myself off the ledge and say, you have some cute hats, today is a hat day.
What's Really Going on – Real shows up one way or another
Paul had been doing the laundry for so long because of my hand I had gotten used to him stuffing my clothes into weird spaces. It was like an Easter egg hunt finding my jeans. As I struggle to pull them on, I realize this would be a piece a cake compared to securing my bra. The frustration and emotion that filled me were surprising. I had been pushing back all the raw emotions over the last few weeks due to the fact that this will be the fourth Christmas without Phil. It will be the first Christmas without Ava. My life had changed so dramatically in the last four years it was almost hard to recognize.
I glanced in the mirror, my left-handed makeup job looked pretty good, considering. I was feeling the frustration mounting as I managed to wrestle into my bra and latch it after several attempts. I had to roll around on the bed to get my jeans fastened. Not because I was too fat but because I couldn't manage to pull together the fasteners with one, bum hand. Fortunately, I knew just the shoes to wear, they would be quick and simple to put on my feet. As I quickly went from room to room looking for my shoes, I can feel frustration and panic mounting again. At this point, tears were just under the surface. The burning feeling in my throat came and went as I stuffed raw emotion down.
I didn't have time to search for shoes! I vaguely remembered the last time I saw the shoes. It was when I entered the hospital for my surgery last Friday. I remember as we were leaving and Paul put me in the truck, he said, "just leave the hospital booties on, it's fine."
So after a thorough search of the house, I reluctantly pick up my cell phone and punch in the numbers to Paul's work. The familiar voice of the receptionist, (who is naturally stressed and annoyed), answers and curtly tells me Paul cannot come to the phone right now. At this point, I burst into tears. Through the sobs, I managed to tell her I need my shoes, I can't get my bra on right, I can't find my jeans, my hair looks terrible, it's a hat day, I'm running late and I have to go to the doctor. The words tumbled out profusely and sounded like a wounded, wild animal and I begin to apologize profusely. All of this was of course, barely audible because I was bawling my eyes out. In the back of my mind, all I could think of was the judgment of Paul's coworkers. How his emotionally unstable wife was calling about her shoes and couldn't cope with the most basic things in her life, getting dressed. I envisioned them laughing in the hospital break room about how poor Paul had to deal with this crazy, loonie wife.
The funny thing was that all of the things I had been stuffing we're also there. The continued to struggle and grief of losing my oldest son. The loss of Ava's presence. The lack of our family coming together at Christmas. Missing my mom. Missing my dad. Missing Paul's dad. The lack of Christmas decorations this year. The drywall guy who didn't finish on time. The fact that I'm out of shampoo. The bill I forgot to pay. And on and on and on.
I have always been a fan of Star Trek. My favorite is the Borg tag-line, 'Resistance is Futile'. This is one of the most brilliant lines in a movie. Resistance is Futile. You know why resistance is futile? Resistance doesn't work. Resistance causes frustration, pent-up emotion, roadblocks in our minds.
I have resisted Phil's death. There are moments of acceptance and then I fall back again and resist. Resistance is futile. Philip is still dead.
Everything is different without him here. Ava now lives in Turkey. Our family has suffered tremendously. Broken relationships. Individual grief. Well-meaning friends offering advice on something they know little about and have never experienced. Disdain for the holidays.
Today was not a fun day. Sometimes I have days like that. I am a human being. I am real. And then I remember, Resistance is Futile.