Thursday, September 27, 2012

Christianese: Church sign

The latest church sign on my commute:

"If God is your co-pilot, switch seats!"

What they mean to say is:
"Let God take control!"

What they're actually telling the world:
"You should be a helpless body, just giving all your decisions over to a higher power. Do nothing yourself. Just let God handle it. Lay down and shut up. God doesn't help those who help themselves...God only helps those who let him do everything all the time."

Monday, September 24, 2012

My Character Flaws

One of the biggest lessons I'm trying to instill in my daughter is the danger of keeping secrets. Hiding the things I've felt and done over the years was one of the biggest reasons for my isolation and for bigger mistakes.

If I had been in an environment where I felt comfortable sharing my faults, my fears, my problems, my mistakes, and my questions with my parents and my friends...without judgment...well, I don't think that my life choices would have come out the same as they did. I think I would've been a much better person much sooner.

But hey, you live and you learn, and my life lessons have been instrumental in bringing me to where I am today. I hold no regrets at this point in my life.

However, where I am today is still very imperfect. After years of struggling to keep up a "perfect" face, I'm finally ready to break out and be openly imperfect. It's been years in the making. My biggest fear with transparency and honesty was this: "If I tell the truth about the 'bad' things that I feel and do, then I'll have to commit to changing. And if I commit to changing, and I fail, then I'm not only a failure, I'm a public failure."

This mentality - this fear of being mocked, judged, or shamed  - has been one of my very worst character flaws. It's my de-motivator when it comes to exercise. It's my reason for attacking people I love. It's my reason for self-doubt and hatred that I harbored for years.

Enough of that crap. If I can't be honest with myself and with the people who care about me, I shouldn't bother to call myself a genuine person. I hate fake. I've been fake. Hell, I've probably been fake for more of my life than I've been real.

So in the interest of abolishing facades, I'm going to share a diary entry that I wrote during a very emotionally-introspective period this past weekend. I curled up against a tree and just thought, and wrote, about all the things that I don't like about myself, the things that are ruining my life, the things that need to change about me. I thought about the relationships I've sabotaged and the horrible ways I've treated myself over the years. I figure the first step toward change is awareness of the problem. So here's the list I came up with, in no particular order except that this is how they came into my head.

My Character Flaws:

  1. I assume I already know what people think of me, whether they've indicated so or not.
  2. I hold conversations and feelings in my head and I hold them against people even if they've never happened
  3. I push everyone away to see if they'll care enough to try to get back in
  4. I automatically assume people don't care about me
  5. I only feel guilty when I get caught
  6. I want people to like me, so I'm too nice to them, at my own expense
  7. I put everyone else's feelings before mine. In Sunday school, they taught us to practice JOY in our lives: "JESUS-OTHERS-YOU = JOY!" meaning put Jesus first, others next, and put yourself last. Great in theory, but I took it quite literally - taking it to the point that I never spent a moment worrying about myself.
  8. I never forgive myself for any mistake
  9. I'm lonely when I'm alone. I don't know how to enjoy my own company except when I'm enthralled in a project such as crafting or writing.
  10. I'm different around different people
  11. I do things I know are wrong, still do them, and then am disgusted by myself later for having done them. Yet I don't stop doing them.
  12. I am obsessed with punishing everyone for doing anything wrong. This is why I get so angry driving in traffic, or why I get annoyed when other people do thing in a way that I find to be wrong, such as parenting 
  13. I please everyone but me - even people I dislike or owe nothing to
  14. I assume i'm on the outside of everything and I don't try to get involved because of that. I rationalize my lack of involvement by saying "I'm not a ____ girl" or "I'm not a real ____ fan" so I can't join the group.
  15. I hide my feelings from people who care about me because I assume they don't actually care. I will lie to your face and tell you that I'm fine. If you don't believe me, I will continue to lie. Only a few people have ever seen through the lie.
  16. I avoid being friendly to people (neighbors, church members, etc) for fear of becoming obligated to be around regularly/join a group/put on a fake personality/have people rely on me
  17. I assume that trying to behave better is the equivalent to being a fake, so I don't try to behave better
  18. I assume random behaviors and actions are fake in others
  19. I love attention. I live for it.
  20. I judge myself way too harshly
  21. I draw arbitrary lines in the sand, constantly, about everything.
  22. I HATE being wrong
  23. I avoid introspection because it causes change. Then I still think about what I need to change (There I go with the introspection! damnit!), but I don't change, then I feel guilty about not changing
  24. I don't do things if I'm told do them. I don't do things BECAUSE I'm told to do them. My feeling is, I don't do things to prove myself, so stop telling me to do them. I'll do them on my own. Basically, I'm a teenager.
  25. I thrive on a constantly-full to-do list. It's boring if there isn't a pile of stuff to do. I think I like to feel overwhelmed because it gives me purpose.
  26. I eat too much and get angry with myself for doing so
  27. If I don't have unlimited portions of food available, I feel like I'm going to starve so I gorge myself
  28. I like people at least a little bit less if I disagree with them politically
  29. I like to see people angry because that's the only time they're honest with me
  30. I share nothing with people, then get angry when they don't know me well
  31. I share too much with people, then get angry when they're offended or bored
  32. I want deep friendships, but I sabotage them
  33. I hold people to impossible standards in my head
  34. I hate complete strangers over stupid things like their looks or their public actions
  35. I get very angry over very little things
  36. I lose control of my emotions regularly and without regard to how it affects the people around me
  37. I abuse the life out of the people I love
  38. I pre-sabotage my own happiness by talking myself out of trying things
  39. I care too much about what people think, especially people I like
  40. I don't like myself sometimes. Other times I adore myself. Why?
  41. I intentionally espouse opinions that are the opposite of people I dislike, out of spite. They don't care.
  42. I don't discuss my feelings until I blow up
  43. I don't spoil myself ever, because I think it's selfish. But I think it's healthy when others spoil themselves.
  44. I only do things I want to do, when I want to do them
  45. I bite my tongue to avoid conflict when sometimes conflict is necessary
  46. I am disgusted by myself, and I don't know why
  47. I am not nice to myself. I speak to myself in a very mean voice, saying very mean things. I don't forgive myself.
  48. I don't know if I'll ever feel like an adult, no matter where I am in life. I resent myself for this.
  49. Responsibility terrifies me because I'm scared I'll fail
  50. I lie to myself in order to live with myself
Some of these are redundant. Some aren't character flaws. And some contradict and are still true. Some are only true sometimes. Some are so true, they're painful.

But, this is me. What now?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Christianese: The latest church sign

As I mentioned on a previous blog entry, there's a church on my commute that always puts up church signs that they think are effective in reaching the secular community, but are actually super-douchey.

This week's sign:
"ETERNITY IS A LONG TIME TO BE WRONG"

The message they were intending to send:
"In case God really is real and the Bible is true, and you don't believe in him, that means you will not go to heaven. Hell is a horrible place. We don't want you to go there. Consider checking into Christianity so you can save yourself from hell. We care about you."

The message they're actually sending:
YOUR BELIEFS ARE WRONG
YOU'RE AN IDIOT
YOU'RE GOING TO BURN IN HELL FOREVER

Friday, September 7, 2012

Keep Out

I don't understand why people are private, guarding their feelings and opinions.

I mean, I understand if you don't want to hang your underwear on your outdoor clothesline or if you don't want to discuss your childhood traumas with strangers.

But privacy? It just seems weird to me.

I'm completely open about everything. I see no reason not to be.

I've been known to be extremely open and up-front about everything from discussing personal issues, family histories, sexual experiences, my irritation with my child, everything. Obviously I try to keep my discussions to an appropriate audience.

But I just feel like other people are so tight-lipped about everything. And my response to that is: Why? What is your big secret? Did someone tell you that you have to remain quiet to retain an air of mystery? Mystery is overrated. Do you know what mystery is? Mystery is a lie, an illusion. Be open about who you are, what you're thinking, what you're feeling, what you want, and what you want to talk about, and when you need to fart. That way, your friends will be real friends. Your discussions will be deeper, or at least more interesting.

I think part of the reason I'm so open is that I wish everyone was. I want to know everyone's opinions on everything. I want to know where you've been and how it affected you. I want to know your dreams and who you wish to be. I want to see your wedding pictures and hear about how your kids behave. I just care about that kind of stuff. Not to say that I'm an overly-caring, sweet person...more so to say that I'm an observer, a watcher, probably a stalker on occasion.

I wasn't always this way. In fact, I used to be extremely tight-lipped about almost everything. I used to never cry, never talk about my feelings, never show myself. I wasn't quiet by any means - in fact, I was loud and obnoxious, probably to cover up my insecurities.

But now that I've been through so much shit in life - and excuse my language, but that's what it was: shit - I've grown far more confident in everything about myself. I know my strengths and my weaknesses and I know that my weaknesses don't diminish my strengths. I know my fears, dreams, hopes, and desires and I know that they are right for me, they're not just things I was told to do or be or want. I know my role as a mom and as a fiance and I know more of what lies in my future. So I don't need to hide. I don't need to be quiet. I don't need to apologizing for what I feel or what I want.

I also don't feel the need to be reserved or emotionally detached anymore. It's a weird, nice freedom. I think someday I'll become accustomed to this openness and I'll finally find a happy medium between the old, loud-to-cover-up-vulnerability me, and the current over-sharing hyper-opinionated me.

Damn.... this entry would never have even been slightly true just a few weeks before I met Dan. What the heck?