A friend of mine recently posted pictures from her trip to Burning Man this year. In one, she has a button that says “Give A Shit.”
I used to have a skill that I cultivated. It was the ability to not flinch. It was part of my “cool” persona. I was very good at it. When people did things to try to get a start out of me, I would barely react.
Not just friends playing pranks. Even when I was mugged and punched in the face when I was about 24 years old, I can still remember the look in the eyes of the guy who punched me. It clearly freaked him out that I didn’t scream or cry, or even cower. In fact, I remember looking at him with a disgusted look. I made him flinch. (Of course, I would later realize that I was a bloody mess because he punched my teeth right through my lip. I suppose that would be scary if you punched a seemingly weak girl in the face and all she did was look angry at you…)
From the time I was a very small child, I was very good at building fortresses. My fat body was a kind of fortress against intimacy. So was smoking. So was that unflinching bitch attitude. And being high on sugar.
Sugar may, in fact, have been the most useful tool I had against giving a shit. Because it made everything foggy. And surreal. And it made life-moments incidental. My real life lay in food and eating and getting high. Everything else was simply something to be endured until I could get my next fix.
But then I got my eating under control and I quit sugar all together. And then slowly, (very, very slowly…one at a time, after years of being sober from food) I dismantled my fortresses.
Because you can’t have love without pain. Because you don’t get to pick and choose what you let in. A fortress doesn’t keep the bad things out. It keeps EVERYTHING out. All of it. Not just the sadness of rejection and the pain of being wounded, but also the love and the joy and the trust and the intimacy.
I made a choice when I decided that I wanted to let myself fall in love and be loved. I made the choice to give a shit. I knew that it meant getting hurt. I was a grown woman in my 30’s. I didn’t have fairytale delusions about how love made everything easy. I was quite clear that the life I had chosen until then, behind my very secure, safe walls, was the easy way. Not giving a shit is, by far, the easier way. Love is not safe. Intimacy is not easy. It is complicated and messy.
Admitting you are wrong is scary. Making amends is scary. Restoring a broken relationship is scary. Being vulnerable is just plain terrifying.
I could make all of it go away by just not giving a shit. Still can.
But that would make the love go away too. And the joy that comes from loving. And the warmth that comes from being loved. Because ultimately, love is giving a shit.
I choose love, so I choose to give a shit. And I wish the same for you.