In the spirit of Spring and the changing of seasons, I want to wipe some of the muck from the slate. I acknowledge I can’t exactly wipe it clean, but…it’ll be a start, right?
I freely admit I am a fretter. I worry, ponder and imagine potential criticisms and crisis. Natural and man-made disasters were an obsession when I was a little girl. Growing up in Missouri the New Madrid Fault* was always on my mind. Plus, you know, tornados and nuclear war and the like. African Killer Bees. Strangers in vans following me home from school. Things of that nature.
As a teenager, my frets expanded from earthquakes and nuclear winter to the politics of high school. Being thin enough, smart enough and nice enough…. Being a good Christian was paramount. Like many, I obsessed about disappointing people. I had to exceed all expectations. When it seemed that I didn’t, I hated myself. It was very simple. I figured I couldn’t do much about earthquakes, but I could absolutely be all things to all people around me. I didn’t realize then how egomaniacal that is. I just didn’t want to let anyone (God, parents, Thister, teachers, etcetera) down. Lots of young adults put this same pressure on themselves. I am not unique.
Of course in college and throughout my early 20s, things got a bit more complicated. Bad things happened. I made such colossal mistakes and so betrayed my sense of self that hating me became a full-time occupation. I was furious. I had such high expectations for myself and knowing I had failed just disgusted me. My peripheral vision was full of ways to punish myself and serve penance. I pushed people away. I plotted a clean demise. For anyone who knows about these sorts of things, I’m a Leo with Capricorn as my moon sign. Stubborn melodrama is my second nature.
I can’t exactly pinpoint what shook me out of that self-absorption (as much as any writer can ever shake out of it). I believe it was a combination of some very special people who seemed to not give up on me even when I’d given up on myself. I remembered to be humble in the face of Mother Nature’s consistency. World events. Perspective. And yes…ego. I didn’t want to be the good Christian girl who let everyone down by driving into a highway pilon.
My father was not a fretter, but a planner. He was a man of action. He taught Thister and I early on to prepare for contingencies of all kinds. As a result, we’ve both grown up to be cool in emergencies, to keep our heads when the proverbial poop hits the fans. We always have a Plan B for just about everything. I say just about everything. What I haven’t had in the last few decades is a Plan B for processing the anger that still festers. As I’ve gotten older and my world view has gotten wider, my anger has focused on things of much more importance and relevance than what happened when I was 20 and the years before and after.
I think it’s rather fantastic to get over one’s self and realize the truth of life is that everyone has pain. Everyone has horrors. I am not unique. What can be unique is how I continue to process my anger (at myself, yes, but also at what I perceive as injustices all around). On the bright side, it’s become a theme of my writing. This universal connection that is the human condition. It’s what we all have in common. Our Big Giant Brains make it so easy to be so emotional! We get so mad and so disgusted, with ourselves and with the things that happen to us…. We get so amazingly angry! But I’m trying to adjust my internal vocabulary to switch “angry” to “determined,” to use “inspired” instead of “furious.” In the spirit of the season and growth and new things blooming, I want my frets to be positive rather than destructive.
It all comes back to forward motion. Which I guess has been my Plan B all along.
Anger dwells only in the bosom of fools. ~ Albert Einstein
Get angry, get furious, but never crumble to resentment. ~ Dodinsky
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.
~ Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NIV)