Saturday, October 29, 2011

a doorbell rings

A doorbell ring should be a hopeful sound, and yet it often is not. At least not the unanticipated surprise doorbell that rings out early in the morning. Instead it is a cue: be steady, an unknown situation awaits.

Again the doorbell rang this morning. And again I felt the surge of "I wonder who?" and placed a name in the unspoken answer. A good name. A welcome name.
Again I was wrong. I should have been steady and steeled.

Why is it so difficult to do what is right when it is right, but only for yourself? Why is doing the right thing toward myself not enough?
Why should there be another extrinsic reason to buttress my resolve, be it for humanity, or another person, or nature? And why, when no is hard enough, does it often need to come when there are so few braces?

The doorbell rang. I scooped my purse, already had on my coat. I needed to be across town at LabCorp in 15 minutes. I opened the door looking down, expecting maybe a note or bag, or something. That happens frequently enough that I've trained my eyes downward first. But no.

"I brought you breakfast. Do you have a minute to talk?" I take the bag. Why did I take it?
"I uh... I was just headed out." This is true. I lock the door. It verifies my statement. I'm leaving.
"Just a minute. Won't you listen?" He sits.
You've got me, everyone deserves an audience, don't they? What level of unlove is there that I can't listen? Listening won't change my mind. We sit. I clamp all of me together. I am as small as possible. Literally. If I don't move maybe I'm invisible.
The rational and a plan tumbles out.
Why am I sitting here? Why am I listening? I don't want this. I can't listen to you and to me. They are dissonant.
I stand.
"I need to go." Blocked.
I get stepped in front of.
"I need to go." Move to the side.
"But you didn't hear everything." Stopped again.
"I need to go. I need to go pee in a cup." What?!? I never thought I'd say that aloud. If this was on t.v I'd laugh. I'm not laughing. I need to laugh.
"But wait."
That didn't work. Child-like logic never works.
"I'm not lying. I need to go." I start flapping my hands. What do I do with my hands? Flapping? I need to change directions, he's in my way.
"Wait. Please Andrea" I break away.
"Can I walk you to your car? I'm not done yet. You haven't heard it all. You aren't listening."
I am. I was. I shouldn't. Well, you're next to me walking, and I doubt you'll stop, so fine.
"Can I give you a hug?"
"No. No. I have to go." Don't touch me.

I was fasting so, no food or coffee was in me. I was sad, so tears were already close by. I am alone, so there were no distractions or supports at hand. I had an appointment, but that didn't stop me listening and being late.

A lot of listening. A lot of trembling. A lot of trying to leave and being cut off. A lot of steps to my car. A lot of no from a hollow voice.
But not a lot of strength.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

fearfully and wonderfully

My mom told me once, and I didn't like it, that what you are made to do, you just do. You don't think about it, it comes out of you and can't be stopped. Now I do take issue with the last bit, that it can't be stopped. Just about anything can be lost, forgotten, or suppressed. That wasn't a very illuminating bit of advice when I came again to her asking what I should do in life. Read: job. Should I become a journalist? No matter that I hadn't written a thing. No matter that I didn't daily sit down and journal. I guess I believed in the think method*, only applying it to words, not to music.

You can't stop what you're made to do... The complicating factor here was, I was seeking a way to make money and this wisdom didn't directly translate to a pay check. Not that I was looking for much money, necessarily, but I wanted a path.
Since you can't help but ________ you should pursue _________ in school and do ______with it. A life-sized MadLib game. (As a side note, I never learned grammar till college, so MadLibs have never been fun. I didn't know what a preposition was. Isn't that strange for an English major to not know till Junior year what a preposition is?)

So I ended college. Didn't know what to do. Liked to read. Cannot edit to save my life. My options seemed limited. But I got into grad school, did well, and then got a job. And it's here that things got broken.

It's here I learned some of what I was made to do and it was suppressed. I am a writer of sorts. I wrote letters growing up, and collected daily doings writing them to my cousins. And it was fun and funny. How can someone go to the grocery store and not be on an adventure?

So, I started a blog. Had one really before going to Nebraska, but continued it.
Until it was found out by someone at school. And I was told to take it down. And apologize for my words. Words that were gracious and true and not poorly reflecting anything except maybe my vocabulary. I cannot understand still what happened to me in those 9 months. But all of the "you do what you are" shrank away. The more I was the more I was ostracized.

I stopped writing. I stopped laughing. I stopped talking. I stopped eating. I could not do the right thing without criticism and I was a shell inside and a blank screen to reflect incorrect images onto. It's strange what you believe when you are told who you are for long enough when you are alone.
Lazy. Inept. Hurtful. Stupid.
You'd believe it. Don't tell me you wouldn't.

It's taken years to undo. No, not undo. Label. Untangle. And like a chain, it's crimped in a way that won't hang the same again. It is so easy to relearn those lies, to get retangled to only see the snags. God sheltered me in those times. In such small ways. I was empty but was protected.

I am what I do. And since I stopped doing absolutely everything that was not necessary for waking hours: feed, bathe, exercise,laundry, sleep, what I do now has been basic.

It's similar I guess to the sensation of a phantom limb. I haven't had a phantom limb, but I have slept on my arm and had it go so numb I was surprised it ever had feeling again.

Now, nearly 5 years later, I am becoming aware of who I was. Feeling a tug, or a pressure, an itch or a tingle.

Start to write.
Start to read.
Start to be.
Test the waters.
You are safe.

*The Music Man, watch it

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fight or Flight

Fight or flight. Cleverly similar words with such appropriately different meanings. I believe everyone experiences the fight of flight response to situations all of the time. But I don't hear much about the after effects of this adrenal response or specifically about the mental reaction that must follow. To me it doesn't seem like a simple chemical reaction at all, nor do most of my fight of flight occurrences happen in the wild when bodily harm is truly on the line. Rather, it is as simple or complex as a social interaction or inaction

Lately, I've been put in or happened upon quite a few situations where I did not know how to respond. There seems to be a gulf between my first response in how I want to react (run, be silent, have harsh words) and what I do, which tends to be polite or understanding and is certainly not indicative of the thoughts within. When what I want to do, to avoid being hurtful, is run or hide, or both.

Of course I haven't hid. I shouldn't say of course, because I have spent many minutes escaping into bathroom stalls in my adulthood just to get away. It's why my first book, if I were ever to write one, would be titled: Hiding in Bathrooms. (It's always good to have a title on hand in case a book presents itself.) But I've stopped hiding, I suppose since I have hid I never developed the, how to stay put response well.

I grew up criticizing those girls who in a moment of stress or make-believe drama would circle up her posse and go gossip in a corner about whatever it was. Someone wearing the same shirt or some verbal exchange and its meaning. I never understood this need exactly nor approved since it seemed to create more havoc than good.
But I am gaining understanding and have the urge now.

When I am in one of these social, I need to get away moments, I long for someone else far enough removed, but intuitive and close enough to me to see and understand what is unfolding. The proximics, the syntax, the tone, the vocabulary, the non-verbals. How the surface is not all of the story and that I need a swift exit. I need to go and talk of "shoes and ships and sailing wax" to laugh, because laughter will shed light return it to where it needs to be.

All of those cards seemed to be in place today. I was with my faithful, observant, and best friend of a brother at church. And yet when I needed to cut out due to an uncomfortable situation, we didn't. I got the opportunity to be an adult but not run, but desired to not linger. Instead, we were 30 minutes later, still socializing, him in some unknown location, and not answering his phone. And certainly not taking hints even when I asked directly for us to please leave. But by the time we did it seemed too late. My thoughts and feelings were strewn about in such a way that I couldn't catch them, fold them up nicely, or put them back away.

And once removed, once the need to fight or flee is gone, what then? The trigger is gone, but the feelings aren't. Where do they go? They don't have receptors like adrenaline and get absorbed back into the body or mind. Where should they go?