Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “changing”

You have no power over me

The other day, for the at least second, or possibly 3rd time, I had a particular guy from junior high pop on my Facebook feed. Not by mutual junior high friends, but by people that I don’t think know him personally. He is the significant other of some social media personality that I don’t follow, and whom I am not interested in. And this woman sometimes tags this guy, and waxes poetic about how wonderful he is. But this guy stands out in my mind as the fat shaming bully of my junior high years.

So, when I was seeing friends of mine reacting with thumbs ups and hearts to some woman going on about this guy being the hero who changed her life, I wanted to write to my friends privately, tell them my story, stop them from liking and loving, and fawning over someone who humiliated and shamed me. I wanted to tell the world, or at least my small corner of it, that I hate that guy. That he is a bully and an arrogant jerk.

What? Am I twelve?

Well, actually, yes. The girl who wants to do that is absolutely twelve. And fat, and awkward, and bad at navigating the world. And she wants to shame and humiliate a forty-year-old man that she has had absolutely nothing to do with for the past 27+ years, just like he shamed and humiliated her.

I decided to take a step back and look at my part, my mess. Acknowledge my own dust and debris, and sweep around my own front door, before I go sweeping around this guy’s. (A shout out to the friend who posted that song this week.)

When I try to think back to specific incidents where this guy shamed and humiliated me, I can only think of one. And the truth is, in retrospect, it was not earth shattering. And it was not directed at my weight, but at my weirdness. Which is something I can’t deny. And which, at 12, in the company of other 12-year-olds in the homogenous south suburbs of Chicago, was not the cute, quirky asset that it would come to be in my adult years. Being a non-conformist didn’t make adolescence any easier, I’ll tell you that.

There is that quote that is attributed to many people, but as far as I can find was by a guy named Carl W. Buehner.

“They may forget what you said – but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

Did this guy make me feel ashamed of myself and my body? Absolutely. I still very clearly remember those feelings. Enough so that I wanted to rant about him at people who don’t even know the guy. Do I really think he was a jerk? I sure do. But he could not have affected me the way he had, if I had not already hated myself so much and been so ashamed of myself. Perhaps I projected my own fat shaming of myself onto him. I don’t believe so, but it’s a possibility. Or perhaps I remember the experience of his meanness clearly, and I have blocked out the more painful and humiliating particulars and incidents. (I have discovered over the years that I have blocked out many of the more traumatic parts of my childhood.) But either way, the only reason I was having such a strong emotional reaction was because I was not complete with myself, or him, in my own heart and mind. And I don’t need him to hear me or see me or acknowledge me in any way, in order to get complete. This is between me and me, and it always was. Especially since I have had zero to do with this guy at all for nearly 3 decades.

But it’s still hard. Because it still hurts a lot. So much that it has made me cry more than once in the past days. Less when I think about his cruelty, and more when I think about how scared and alone I felt those two years that I was in junior high. I think that those two years were the very worst, most miserable of my entire life. I would say that they were even worse than the years just before I got my eating under control, when I was in the throes of my most destructive eating disorders. Ok, maybe it’s a tie…

So I expect that my problem is not really this guy as a person at all.  It’s what he represents in my memory about those years: the loneliness, and fear, the feeling that nothing would ever work out, or be right. The fear that I was forever going to be shameful and ashamed. And that there would always be someone, like him, who was eager to point it out.

And I don’t know. Maybe he’s changed. I certainly did. I changed myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Maybe he really is an amazing partner and father. Maybe he is a good, kind man with a heart filled with love and honor. Or maybe he’s not. Maybe he’s still a jerk and a bully and this woman doesn’t know the difference. Maybe he’s just better than her last one. Maybe she posts only the good and never the bad. She’s a social media personality, after all. I already know not to compare my insides with other people’s outsides. I, too, made sure I looked like I had my shit together when I definitely did not.

In the movie, Labyrinth, there is a line from a book that the heroine can never seem to remember. It’s a declaration, the kind of thing that most of us forget, conveniently or inconveniently, all the time when we are dealing with difficult people or situations. It’s a line I also forget, yet would do well to remember.

You have no power over me.

Should I be worried? Meh…

I’m feeling sort of out-of-body lately. So if this post seems weird…well, you’ve been warned. I have had a surreal week. But really good. The one word I can think of to explain it is “surrendered”.

I have been very calm. Inside. I am pretty sure I occur as a bitch to the outside world. But inside there is no malice. I definitely do want to be left alone. But I don’t have the energy for many words of explanation. To let you know that I’m touched that you want to help me/talk to me/be neighborly, but that I don’t want to talk or be neighborly. That I am declining your help. So I don’t use a lot of words. Or give you a simper and put my hand over my heart and praise you for your generosity of time and spirit. I just say no. And I feel like it keeps coming out wrong. At least not how I mean it. I don’t mean it to sound harsh. But it keeps sounding that way. And I keep not caring. And I keep not explaining myself. I have zero desire to smooth everything over. And make you feel good about me and yourself and our interaction. I could not give any fewer shits, frankly. And I’m wondering who this woman is. She’s not Kate the “good girl”. And I really like her. She’s easy for me to be with. She’s easy to be.

I have noticed several other things too.

I have been harder to ruffle. The other morning, I was on the train to work, when it stopped at a station. There was an announcement that the particular train that I was on had a technical problem. Everybody was told to get off and wait for the next train. This is normally the kind of thing that shifts my stress levels to high. Uncertainty about how long I will have to wait for the next train, the potential to be late for work, the knowledge that the next train will already be filled with its own passengers, and may not have room for all of us from my broken train.  That I might have to wait for more than one train. And even if it does have room, it will certainly be uncomfortable. And yet, none of this phased me. I got off the train. I waited. I got on the next train. I went to work. I cannot tell you how long I waited. I do not recall how crowded the next train was. It all escaped me. It did not matter.

I’ve been sleeping a little more. Nothing crazy. I’m used to sleeping 7 or 8 hours a night. And because I regularly sleep enough, my body will often wake me after 7 hours. Sometimes 6. Tell me it’s rested. And for the most part, for the last year at least, setting an alarm has been a precaution. (Because, as I already touched on above, I think being late is possibly the most stressful thing in the world.) But on the days I have set an alarm, I have been waking up to it, not before.  And the days I haven’t, I have been sleeping 8.5 – 9 hours. I don’t mind. I think my body is healing. That my brain is processing new things. That my soul is catching up. But I think it’s worth noting. So I am.

I have been remembering dreams. Now the way I understand it, everybody dreams, and some people don’t remember their dreams. And I am one of those people who almost never remembers her dreams. But recently, I’ve found myself going through my day, and all of a sudden I will have a feeling, and that feeling will remind me that I had a dream. And some odd snippet of the dream will come back to me. Sometimes a dream I had days or weeks ago. For me, dreams are visual, but the most important thing about them is how I feel in them. The most vivid part of any dream (that I happen to remember) is the emotional landscape. What I did or said or saw in a dream is secondary to that.

And I have been doing so much nothing this week. Just being. I’m not even talking about thinking. I have even been thinking less than usual. I have been spending less time on the internet. I have not been reading. I have just been sitting quietly. And I have not been bored at all.

I feel like the primary excuse I have had (in my own head, for my own benefit) for all of the things I have ever done/used/abused, was a fear of “being bored”. That life would be unbearably dull without sugar, caffeine, alcohol, pot, drugs in general, cigarettes, TV, staying out all night, staying up all night, etc. And instead, I have been…I don’t even know what the word is. Content? Unhurried? Uncluttered? Not bored!

Also, I am wary to use the word peaceful. For me, peace has a connotation of happiness. Of quiet joy. The corners of my mouth turned up and every exhale a little celebration. Peace has a kind of energy of its own. A sense that all is right with the world. But this week has not been that. It’s not that all is right with the world. It’s that it doesn’t matter if the world is right or not. That it is what it is. And that I am fully surrendered to what is so. Don’t get me wrong. I am not complaining. It is not apathy. Or resignation. It is just easy. Calm. Unencumbered. It has been great. Just not peaceful.

I don’t know what is going on with me. And that’s ok. I don’t expect it to last. Like everything else, good and bad, this too shall pass. But I have a feeling that my life has officially changed. In ways that are not yet clear to me. And I hope that this is an indication of the direction I’m headed and the path I have set myself on. Because I do not expect life to be easy. But I would like to spend more time taking it easy. To have more surrender in my daily life. To spend more time being and less time…well everything. Doing, worrying, fixing, explaining, whatever. And for now I am enjoying this interesting little pocket of surrender. Because life has a way of happening.

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