Monday, October 8, 2007

being better, part 27

It’s funny how I said that thing about my neuroses on Friday, and then… well, here’s the thing.

Twice a year my church has an international conference wherein we can watch all of our church officers and general authorities speak to us from Salt Lake City. Luckily, we have satellite, so we can watch the proceedings from the comfort of our couch. We wear pajamas for a good majority of the weekend. We eat lots of homey food. We cuddle. And we listen to these amazing men and women share direction with which we can improve our lives and our time here together.

Kathryn writes about it here.

I haven’t been able to talk about this hang-up I have, because I didn’t know how to present it here in a public forum, in a way that would be both helpful and constructive. It’s my baggage – and I wasn’t sure if there was a way to sort through it with you all looking on. I have some issues with feeling small – we know this because I have shared that – more than once. The thing is, it comes from something else – something about fitting in or being part of a group – something that has never been right with me. I’ve always been a bit of a loner. You can ask Mom – she’ll tell you a MILLION stories of me hanging out in my bedroom when we had company over – or how I was much happier making something with a pile of paper, some scissors, and some glue than playing with a group of kids I didn’t know. (And sometimes – even when I DID know the kids. Happier by my lonesome.) I have a bizarre sense of humor. I love good science fiction. I can quote obscure movies and books, and work said quotes into harmless conversation. I write poetry. I love to read. I love art. I don’t enjoy small talk. Fake gives me hives. I want to have real conversations with real people. In most cases, I haven’t felt like I could trust myself with people. That’s really it: the old addage of I’ll Show You Mine if You Show Me Yours never worked with me because I didn’t ever feel like Anyone Showed Me Anything – and when I did, indeed, Show Mine, it was usually stolen or trampled or misunderstood altogether. (Don't get me wrong: there have been some rare but WONDERFUL exceptions to my experience: my lovely indelable creamy friends & Minions - you know who you are. They have accepted me, the entire me, and have made me all that much kookier because of their influence.)

Because of my hesitancy to show the Big Me to the Big World, the Big Group Dynamic has always been challenging for me. My best way of dealing with it was to buck it altogether. Funny thing about growing up, though (and WHY don’t they tell us this?) – The Big Group Dynamic never goes away. Whether you’re in high school or college or some kind of pseudo business professional – you are still faced with daily BGD’s. At work, I’m best equipped to deal with the BGD by using Avoidance and Substitution. In these situations, I can be found either leaving the room entirely (I have work! To do! Somewhere else!) – or I huddle close to those people I know best and chat with them about NOTHING until the BGD has settled itself into more manageable clusters. At church it’s a little more difficult. The BGD is there, whether we want it to be or not. Through the BGD, cliques can form, whether we want them or not. For the last couple of years, I have dealt with the BGD at church with my old method of Avoidance and Substitution. I have kept people at arm’s distance, not only to protect myself, but also because I didn’t think anyone really wanted to see beyond that safe perimeter.

I’ve recently identified something in my soul that is restless and unhappy with this state of affairs. For the last few months, I thought it was about identity and having a baby. Like I was going through this identity crisis of sorts because I was going through so much change: my body, my marriage, my entire way of being is under construction. Makes sense that it would lead to some funky Who Am I questions, right?

I have played with the idea that this Having a Baby endeavor would change my relationships with friends. Suddenly those individuals with whom I have developed tenuous connections would be that much farther away. I have been terrified that the folks I’m now going to resemble (those with kids, the SAHM’s) wouldn’t take me in. Like I’d be left at the door knocking, and they’d all just huddle in the corner with the lights out, hoping I’d get the hint and just leave – taking baby and stroller with me.

I had such an urgent need to remember Who I Am (at least in context to FAMILY), that I booked an emergency trip to see my folks. It was fantastic to spend time with them – and good all around (Dad’s birthday, etc. etc.) – but we never got down to the kind of brass tacks conversation I’d imagined in my head, where I tell them that I needed to be with them for a few days, to feel like myself again. In the end, I don’t think it was needed. Because what’s going on inside of me is so much bigger than that.

At one point during the conference this weekend, Julie Beck, the President of our worldwide organization for women (The Relief Society) shared thoughts about Women Who Know. In her talk, she spoke of women of truth – women of power – women of influence. She shared things that these women would do – and in these things she shared, she gave us patterns to follow. Kathryn mentions this in her post today – and she shares that not everyone felt a sense of purpose and direction hearing Sister Beck’s words. I can imagine more than a few women (myself included) who felt small, who felt inadequate, who felt impossibility rising within them. And then… and then I felt an overwhelming sense of calm. Sister Beck shared a laundry list of things that I need to do better – there’s no doubt. But I felt such a great sense of peace settle over me, that I knew that there was something between the lines that I needed to see. My struggle with identity is tied up with my sense of inadequacy. And in that, I realized that what I need to focus on right now is being a better person. I know, I know, this sounds totally cheesey and canned. It sounds like other posts I’ve written. But hear me out. I have worried so much about where I fit, and with whom, that I haven’t bothered to look within. The times when I’ve been most inline with my sense of right, are also the times I’ve felt most free to be who I am. When I focus on improving myself, double checking that my actions are congruent to Christ’s teachings, I am much less inclined to worry about the BGD. I can motor on my way, happy to know that cream really does recognize cream – and when that happens, a friendship will be born.


tearese said...

I understand. In the last few years I've developed the ability to mimic other peoples' actions in social situations so I don't seem as awkward...but yeah, I was the kid sitting in the middle of a field durring PE, or, sneaking back into the school to read so I wouldn't have to play with everyone else.
Through my callings at church I think I learned how to better make friends, but not any really close friends. I was sad when we moved, but in actuality I wasn't very close to anyone, at least not enough to feel great sorrow at departing.
Anyway, whether you believe it or not, I know what you're talking about!

stacie d said...

i think i just realized why we became such close friends as kids... we both were happy to do our own thing, but be together in doing it. that explains our magazine stories, house designs, etc...all very solo activities. we'd sit for hours "playing" without even talking! that's true comfort in a friendship!

speaking of playing: "eh dave.... can you play...?"