As discussed SEVERAL times in my blogs, I am in love with being a cheerleader for other people. I take their dreams on as my own, cradle them, and nurture them, and ultimately, have zero control over whether or not their owners make them come true. At the root of this is my deep, all-encompassing love of people. The friends, family and adopted-family in my life are not important to me; they're EVERYTHING to me.
For several of my recent blogs, I've waxed poetic on how I need to focus on me and make my dreams come true (truth). But what I've neglected to notice, to feel, and to admit is that other people finding fulfillment, happiness and glorious, glowy, passionate existence, is one of my most important dreams. I've had a real on-the-surface "eff you" attitude lately, about the role other people play in my life and my existence: "Oh, he/she doesn't want to return my calls? Eff 'em! I don't need 'em! I just need to focus on ME!".
Well, here's the cold hard truth: I could temporarily get happy in that "eff 'em" attitude, because it postponed me having to deal with the painful, hurtful, yucky, complicated truth that when people bow out of your life, you realize the monumental differences they made.
This last week, that reality hit me. I don't know what finally brought me face to face with an immovable mirror of truth, but it found me and I couldn't escape. And then something awful and borderline embarrassing happened: I stopped caring about myself.
Because someone in my life, that I cared for VERY much, stepped back and, in my limited perception, "stopped caring", something inside me triggered and told me that I should stop caring, too. My "eff 'em, I don't need 'em" attitude, flipped its poles, and suddenly, I felt as if one person's presence in my life determined any and all of my value (or lack thereof) and if I was disposable to them, I was disposable, period. And no one or nothing could lift me out of it.
Love, of any kind, on any level, is probably the riskiest behavior we engage in on a daily basis. Loving something or someone- a job, a spouse, a child, a parent, a friend- means placing our trust, our secrets, our dreams, our lives, in someone else's hands on a regular basis, with the unending risk that at any given moment that person or situation, that feels so steady and permanent, might simply decide to walk away; for reasons we don't agree with, don't understand, or worse- sometimes for no reason at all. The promises we make to others are ones we silently hope and believe they're making to us, and we exist and care under the often-false pretense that each party is equally vested in the solidity of a situation or relationship.
So, you know what I did when I stopped caring? Nothing. I existed. I still went to crossfit. I still came to work. I still showed up. But my fire was blown out. Crossfit was challenging, but not intense, not rewarding. Work was steady, but not exciting. I sank into feelings of exhaustion and did nothing productive with my down time. I stopped writing music- even LISTENING to music. I phoned it in to life.
And for the first few days, I'm pretty sure I didn't feel everything I was letting slide, but then, I did. And in that moment, something awesome happened:
I was forced to admit I'd been defeated. I was forced to pick myself back up. Alone. By myself. And figure my shit out.
Somewhere in between wallowing in a pint of frozen yogurt and not responding to emails of people that were talking to me, I realized what I was doing. I was choosing (C-H-O-O-S-I-N-G) to be a disaster. Now, I can't help what I felt and STILL feel (hurt, sad, lonely, etc), but I absolutely can and was choosing how I was responding to what I was feeling.
The truth is: I put a lot weight into all of my relationships, and that means when someone goes missing from my life, it's a huge deal. It's NOT an "eff 'em" situation. It's an earth-shaking, soul-splitting, heartbreaking thing. Even though I wish it weren't....and, maybe, that's ok.
When I was growing up, my parents had one simple rule about my brothers and my view on life, the world and spirituality: People are your religion. You do right by them. You risk things for them. You care for them. You sacrifice for them. You be there for them. You forgive them. You inspire them. You listen to them. You apologize to them. You fight for them. You LOVE them.
These teachings and rules were so deeply ingrained in my heart that it is impossible to "forget" about someone I've ever loved or have them "not matter". Even people that have been out of my life for a very long time, are still people I worry about, wonder about, and even- if only almost immeasurably- care for.
The fabric of my heart, and its well being, are built on the impact of others on me, and my impact on others. And that makes it almost consistently unstable. Because of that tricky "they could vanish" fact. Someone who is the bedrock of my makeup could suddenly disappear, and I'd have to somehow, rebuild... Rebuild, or get lost.
This time, I got lost. And every other time, I've stayed lost, waiting for someone or something else to find me and pull me out of my self-imposed vortex of blah. But I won't- I can't- and don't want to- replace this bedrock:
I won't because who knows how long waiting for someone/thing to fix me is gonna take? This girl's got stuff to do and if I leave it outside of my control to LIVE then I could be sittin' pretty in my nothingness for quite some time.
I can't because finding something new to depend on won't get me anywhere I haven't already been.
And I don't want to because, well...that's the hardest part. Realistically, I don't want to because I believe that there are certain things and people in your life that become sacred. Yeah, sure, we all have the day-to-day acquaintances and coworkers and almost-friends that you grab a beer with or go to the movies with, and they can be replaced (to a point) because they're action-driven. But then, there are the people that are linked to you, implanted in so many intricate layers of your life that it seems like you don't have a memory without them in it. They're foundations that the rooms of our lives are built upon. They're the walls that protect us, and the windows that allow us to see the possibilities of the world. They're the familiar glow of a porch light left on. They're the place we know how to get to by heart...they're very simply, and sometimes tragically, home: Soul mates, best friends, mind readers. And those few, rare, perfectly imperfect gems that we are blessed to collect, even if temporarily, are just not something you have the option of replicating. They're precious, and even if you hold them for a moment, once you've felt the weight of them in your hands, you really don't want to- and can't- settle for an imitation, or anything less. And, beyond that, quite honestly, their void is meant to be felt, not filled. It's meant to be honored for what they were and are, and maybe, just maybe, held for if and when they find the will to make their way back to you.
So, with the option of "getting lost" already crossed off my list, it's time to rebuild and give myself a good kick in the rear. Because the truth is putting my life on pause is not a disservice to the people that walk out of it; it's a disservice to the people that stay invested in it...and beyond that, it's a disservice to myself.
We all rely on other people for strength, and we all feel the inclination to crumble when that supplementary strength is pulled away from us. But it doesn't mean we don't have reserves of our own, it just means we have to relearn how to tap into them. So, that's what my next chapter of this journey is about: Embracing the fact that people matter (maybe too much?) to me and have an enormous effect on my life, but re-teaching myself that even when it doesn't feel like it, my "house" is still going to stand...There's a big, solid foundation under me built from the lives and contribution of many who have loved and do love me. There are walls around me to keep me safe, built by a beautiful collection of best friends, soul mates, and mind readers, and though the absence of one has its definitive wake, it will not be a wrecking ball that crushes everything I've built, even when it feels like it will. And there are still windows-- windows that really, have nothing to do with anyone or anything other than my own perspective. Because, regardless of who chooses to love me or leave me, the possibilities are truly limitless; truncated only by my own inaction, indecisiveness or inability to choose.
So choose, I will. Decide, I will. Take action, I will. I may not know EXACTLY how, all the time, but today, I'm pretty sure it starts with doing a little writing (check), thawing out my heart (working on it), and bringing it ON in the gym (T minus 2 hours).
Sorry I left y'all hanging with no blogs for a while. Sometimes it takes a little "lost" to gain a little perspective.