Today is Stream of Consciousness Saturday (#SoCS), and I generally work from a word prompt from someone’s website, but her word(s) prompted nothing for me today.
So, fuck it.
Yes. FUCK. IT. I said it. Typed it. And will later hit publish.
Deal with it. I already have.
And since I’ve already dealt with it, please don’t feel any pressure or obligation to help me UN-deal with it. If you want to be bothered, offended, fearful for my eternal soul, etc., do what you need to do FOR YOU.
I’m good. Really.
You may be noticing a theme in my writing the last couple weeks, and I’m sure it strikes some of you as self-centered. But let me tell you something:
I had been SO others-focused for half a century that I barely knew who I was anymore. Who was I if not the one to make others happy, whole, complete, satisfied? No clue. And if I couldn’t make others happy, whole, complete, satisfied, (understand in the mind of the perfectionist “others” means EVERYONE), then I was a FAILURE.
All or nothing.
Perfection or bust.
I gotta tell ya – it was exhausting. A 2018 suicide attempt ought to be proof enough of that.
I’m going to briefly write about just a couple things I’ve learned that have changed my life, and if they don’t change yours, maybe they will at least help you understand the change in me.
I Am Lovable – Period.
I had to shed and escape a deeply entrenched belief (and lie) that I was only worthy of love because of my value to others, i.e. what I could DO (or even BE) for them. God, mom, dad, sibling, teacher, employer, friend, spouse, children would only love me IF I performed in a certain way and generated the desired, useful output. Short of that, love would be withheld, and it would be withheld until I could figure out a way to even out the scales, right the wrong, overcompensate, to re-enter the “love zone”.
Let me be clear, I’m not saying anyone deliberately intended to send this message to me. It is, however, how I received and processed it, to my great and long-lasting detriment.
Love me or do not. As I am. Imperfect, with my freak flag flying high. I’ve come to believe that God DOES love me (FINALLY). That is between me and God. It is not between me and you and YOUR understanding of how God “works” and who God loves. And now that I believe I can be loved by someone like God, I actually find permission to love myself. Crazy how that works, huh? God loves me – as is. I love me – as is.
So there. Self-centered? I’ll take it. You don’t have to. Really. You don’t. I am good with your disapproval. You can, however, keep it to yourself if you want relationship with me. That’s called drawing boundaries.
Another thing I’ve learned:
I Found it Much Easier to Love Others Once I Believed I Was Lovable
Here is the weird, counter-intuitive byproduct of self-care and self-love: When I am cared for and love myself, I find myself MUCH more compelled and energized to love and care for others. Genuinely. In ways that matter to THEM. With little or no thought to how it makes ME look to them and whether or not it helps me apprehend their love, favor, or friendship.
You find out really quickly who really loves you.
Yes, there is loss.
But the gain cannot be overstated. Not just the gain to self in terms of mental health and well-being, but in the gain I (and others) find in the community of the beloved. TRULY beloved.
It might sound like I’m talking about church here, and in my case, that IS one of my communities (#ILoveMyChurch – www.everybodyschurch.org). Unfortunately, however, I am seeing and hearing from people EVERY DAY who finally get vulnerable and transparent with their church communities about who they are and what they are and are rejected, cut off, marginalized, and/or put in programs where they can be “fixed” (far away from any positions of responsibility or leadership, because… of course). To those of you craving relationship as part of a faith community, I pray you don’t give up on God. God has good people in good communities out there who will love you as you are, where you are, whether you get “fixed” or if you decide there’s nothing “broke” about you in the first place.
But I’m not just talking about church.
I have communities of the beloved on the internet. I belong to a Faith & Mental Health Book Club. I am a member of FaceBook subgroups for Gay Fathers, Men Coming Out Later in Life, Parents Raising Children “Unfundamentally”, and a couple others you don’t need to know about no matter HOW OPEN I’m getting with you. In each, I find a community of acceptance, inclusion, and (yes) love.
The danger, of course, is that I/you/we then insulate ourselves in THOSE groups and become as homogenous and intolerant of the “other” as we found ourselves in the places WE were the “other”.
But that’s not what I’m finding.
I’m finding communities of true inclusion to be TRULY inclusive and extremely capable of OUTWARD love. For anyone. Shocking, right?
I’m finding communities understanding of “others” who may not choose to be one of “us”. I’m finding communities who will reach out and LOVE “others” with no ulterior motive of getting them to be “one of us”.
And if I find one of these communities does start tending towards a demonization or judgmentalism of “others”, I will challenge it. I will notify a group administrator. I will leave. I can do that.