Allowing my Dignity to Drown {Breaking Irrational Ingrained Behavior}

I won’t fight anymore.

I won’t contact, won’t initiate honesty (to see what you’ll say), won’t.

If your word is shit, then it’s time I learn.

It’s not my duty to save you, to make you comfortable despite myself, to lift you up, while my dignity drowns.

It’s not my place to control or be the guardian of boundaries that I think may work more for you than me, in spite of me, while my dignity drowns.

My dignity drowns, while you’re still dry. What I think is a service is really an unfortunate irrational, ingrained pattern of behavior of mine.

‘Take care of them, Kris. Take care, take care, take care. Because maybe one day they’ll get it. And they’ll be there for you; they’ll respect you for you, just as you’ve done for them all this time.’

…Like I’m putting in time—“doing time”—so that possibly one day in the future, I’ll be treated the way I deserve to be treated.

How about TODAY?

How about today accepting only the people who have the courage to be themselves with you, to treat you with respect, and to hold your dignity as equal to theirs?

It would feel wrong, wouldn’t it?

The respect. The kindness. The caring.

Because you didn’t have to sacrifice for it. It was freely given.

You’re not even sure how to register that treatment into your mind, do you? Can’t judge it…is it good, bad, neutral? We have no file folders on this!

No place to organize the respectful, equal treatment, you say? Then trash it!

And you do, don’t you? You have, haven’t you?

I know and I understand. You’re an incredible girl—an ancient soul—with a lot of hurt inside. It will always be there.

But don’t spend the rest of your life trashing the goodness of people because you didn’t earn it. Honey, we (should) never have to earn respect. It should be freely given.

Don’t let your dignity drown in waters deep with pain while others’ stand dry on the shore, comfortable, because you were careful to place theirs there.

What a kind soul, what a kind self-destructive soul you’ve been. Stop.

Let them struggle. Let the insecure struggle to find their standing. It’ll probably be in the water. Don’t control them; don’t make them feel comfortable despite yourself.

You’re not doing anyone any good. They’re learning nothing (just that they can use you), and you’re hurting.

Accept the respectable ones who freely give and stand secure. Freely give to them, Kris. Because with them, you’re freely giving back.

And THAT is what respect ought to be: an exchange.

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Traveling the Terre of Amerre-ica

We started in the Northeast with highways, traffic jams, and tolls upon tolls. So many tolls!

We eased into wide, open land. I remember when this would whisper ‘freedom’ to me over every mile.

Freedom, freedom! Open, free!

I only saw emptiness.

I’ve changed, I thought. Or maybe I’m seeing it for what it is.

I’m no longer a caged bird, growing up in a state I despised. I’ve already gotten to choose my fate once–moving to upstate New York, a surprising choice to most.

This open, brown land couldn’t satisfy me no matter how expansive. I want more.

So we traveled on. Brown gave way to gorgeous green.

I’ve had a love affair with green ever since my first New York spring, three years ago. I believed winter grey was there to stay. Seasonal depression and a Florida upbringing colors faith to certainty that things would always be this way.

Green is good. But I want more. We traveled on.

“Go West, young man,” The Mom would say at times that amused her, not remembering which movie this came from. (It’s not from a movie.)

It’s a Horace Greeley quote on westward expansion. “He saw the fertile farmland of the west as an ideal place for people willing to work hard for the opportunity to succeed. The phrase came to symbolize the idea that agriculture could solve many of the nation’s problems of poverty and unemployment characteristic of the big cities of the East. It is one of the most commonly quoted sayings from the nineteenth century and may have had some influence on the course of American history.”

Thanks, Wikipedia. In other words, I’m willing to work in my roommate’s backyard vegetable garden. Nah, in more seriousness, it means I’m willing to take the humble jobs if it means making the West life for me. 

Land gave way to rock formations. The West is so  interesting. Dry, brown, high and low, quite dramatically, with eighty mph speed limits.

Clouds are look closer. The squiggly lines of I-80 are like decrepit fingers reaching out to touch them at the horizon before us.

At some point we were 200 miles away from Denver today, the second choice for my move. I still felt peaceful in my decision, based more on my gut than knowing either place.

A risk? Trust.

We travel on.

Defining Who I Am

I am  not defined by you.

I used to be. I used to be so concerned by your perception of me. I used to live within your boundaries. I was defined by my successes and failures. I was ruled by shame and my avoidance of. I was terrified of being unacceptable. To you. Because I didn’t see my own worth. I couldn’t tell myself I was worthy of love especially in my worst times. I couldn’t. So I gave you power.

The power to define me.

The power to tell me of my worth or lack thereof.

I started learning about you. What were your values, your idols, your ideals, your most lofty achievements? What did you live for? Breathe for?

I learned to live safely within your boundaries. Acknowledging your cultures, your worldviews. Living without ground myself. I was a nonentity, surviving amongst you. Floating. Never standing my own ground. Afraid to take up space. Afraid of being told I didn’t belong.

Not today.

This is how I want to be defined:

I want to be defined by my honesty. I want to be defined by my search for my God, remembering that I am flesh and bone. That while I have a body, I am a soul. I am more than how this world, this culture, this time, defines me.

I will hold out one hand for peace, ever reaching for uncertain faith in a time in history when people are terrified of anything uncertain. I am right-I am right-I am right. You are wrong wrong wrong. It’s just wrong. We embrace grey in theory but not in practice. Faith is believing in something uncertain. It’s putting full hope into something with results unknown. Hope is scary. It’s not built from an empirical study. But it’s how I want to live. I want to build the definition of me starting with humility and hope.

[Just over 300 words, quick prose I wrote (actually texted to myself) for a Story Slam event I co-host; our theme this month was “I am not defined by ___…”]