Thursday, January 03, 2008

Changing Views

"There is nothing all that bad about mixed motives, unless we think they are pure." ~Falconbrother
I'm listening to James Taylor singing "You've Got A Friend" as I type. It's been a long time since I liked an entire CD but his new One Man Band mix is a keeper.

The song seems fitting as I mull over a telephone conversation I had all morning with a long time friend. One I'd lost touch with when she moved away. A friend who has been there for me through really rough stretches and who I was there for when she went through a deep and dark depression years ago.

Our friendship has barely survived where my spiritual journey has brought me. There were several years where we hardly talked. My interest in living out my faith within the Catholic Church became a huge elephant in the room. Other than our initial conversation where she insinuated I was deceived if my journey was going to take me there, we don't talk about this aspect of my journey. Eventually I told her that I didn't need her to support my choice of Church but I did need her to support me as I journeyed, if our friendship was to continue.

Our conversation this morning lasted several hours. And I can't shake feeling I was trying to prove something to her. Like see how far I've come in my journey since becoming Catholic and needing her approval. I hate when someone else's opinion matters more to me than my own. When I lose all sense that I get to define me and find myself handing over the reins and saying, "Here, you define me for a second, okay?" (or a minute, an hour, a lifetime; depending on the day)
But get like that I do.
When that happens I feel like I'm Odie in a Garfield comic strip.

Often when I am in conversation with someone I will imagine breathing into all the white spaces around their words in order to remind myself to listen for what's not being said, too. It helps me listen on a deeper level. This morning I simply ceased listening altogether, instead having so many answers of my own. It was a bunch of (apologies to dearest one for using this term) bla bla bla on my part. It wasn't so much what I said but my motives in saying what I did. Straining to show her just where I've arrrived to. Blech.

At one point she asked was I still writing? When I answered yes, but didn't give her my blog address I knew just how insecure I was feeling in our friendship. Not giving my blog address to friends means I don't trust them with the whole of my story. It means I'm scared they'll shit on me if they know the darkest places I've been. Sad that many of you who I've never met, know more about my journey than friends I've had for decades.

Several years ago I was in an evangelical church listening to the pastor preach. As I was sitting there judging him, these words, "When you judge the journey of others you are trying to steal their story from them. Don't steal their stories." came into my head. I'm scared she will steal my story. In the process I lose the ability to honour hers as well.

I hate when I'm not comfortable in my own skin; when being in the presence of some people make all my insecurities rise to the surface like yeast in the bowl. Damn.

When I was on my walk today I beat myself up for that for several paces before I caught myself and stopped. When I was in treatment this summer I asked a man I respect if he regretted not achieving sobriety the first time in treatment as this was his 4th or 5th time around. He looked at me and said, "I don't play that game. To do so would mean not honouring my story."

So I don't have it figured out like I thought I did. I get scared to show people the real me. The one without all the answers. The one I thought was behind me.
The one who gets progress and perfection mixed up.

How I feel about myself in relation to others is mine to own.
I so wanted to blame her.
Fear kept me from acting with integrity this morning.
I don't know how much of our friendship was based on us seeing the same view out the window, you know?
And I'm scared to find out.


daisymarie said...

Ok, I've read this twice. I have some thoughts, but I want to pray about how I share them...or decide if they might just be for me. This one really made me think.

onionboy said...

"Sad that many of you who I've never met, know more about my journey than friends I've had for decades."

Well, I am very glad we 'met' and you were a help and encouragement to me back '05 as I blogged more openly than I have since. But how open was it when I wrote under a pseudonym for people I only knew online? Yes, this is a dilemma and one I am facing again as my writing online is no longer coming from the heart, the gut, the soul. I am close to simply leaving it all behind for my private journal and then I turn around and set up another anonymous blog where I have been posting and being read by no one.

To someone today I wrote this:
"A weblog is a terrible place for true confessional writing, for full personal discovery. It is a good place for getting some kind of response and often it's the response that motivates one to keep writing. But what is that response worth when one may not be presenting ones true self and in truth what is that writing worth? Maybe plenty but maybe it could be worth plenty more."

M-m-m, well, that was inspiring wasn't it?

Anonymous said...


I am so guilty of asking others to define me. I think some days I do that more than I trust myself to define me.... (And that's probably why I find myself so screwed up at the moment....)

Anyway--thank you for giving me words to that....

Love you..... and I think your journey is incredible and I am so grateful and encouraged by where you are on it.

Jim said...

Decades ago, when Pentecostalism would tell you you couldn't be "saved" and be Catholic, I was knocking on doors in our area, simply introducing myself and hoping God would open another door of witness. I can still see the face of this little elderly lady, at least in her seventies, when I so greeted her and asked if she was a Christian. She simply glowed with the shine of His inner presence, smiling as she told me she went to the local Catholic church. It confirmed something in me and I've never forgotten the experience...

"When you judge the journey of others you are trying to steal their story from them. Don't steal their stories."......I heard two different people on two different shows make statements to this effect on television the other day and your quote here has probably sparked my next post. You feed me, my friend. As far as your other friend, she, too, has "her own story", no doubt locked in a perspective fed her along the way. We all need continual eye-openings as we go. Kneeling with Him the first time was just enrollment. Taking the course is another matter...

Anonymous said...

This post pretty much stopped me in my tracks. Like daisymarie, I had to read it twice. It certainly got the wheels turning in my heart and mind.

There's this old friend from elementary school days who pops up occasionally in my dreams. Whenever she does, I wake up with a feeling very similar to the one I got from this post, like I've allowed her to put me in a position where I don't measure up again. In my mind, she has become the focus for that disappointing and frustrating feeling. The last time she showed up, I actually hashed it out with her (maybe I took back my own story?) and woke up feeling relieved and a little surprised at myself. Small steps. I guess the point is that all of this is going on inside my head and heart. The real person is living out her life somewhere quite unaware of her role in my particular brand of angst.

Lately, I've been mulling over this idea of judging others a lot. At times, it feels like I'm constantly assessing, sorting, critiquing, pigeon-holing, commending or condemning. I like the words you received about stories; the image is a good one.

Like Jim said, we're all still taking the course. I think sometimes we get "pop quizzes", not for grades, but for our own awareness. "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." Such a short and straight-forward sounding statement, huh?

Thanks for the stirrings, Hope. Sorry about the length of the comment.

Hope said...

Daisymarie - would love to know your thoughts on this one.

O - your words to a friend about blogging are sitting with me today. Thank you for them.

Val - hugs to you dear friend. It wasn't until I went to treatment this summer that I learned I got to define me. I became quite giddy at the thought. It was so freeing. I just need reminding now and then it's still my choice.

Jim - thank you for being you. Your wisdom affects my journey in such positive ways.

Mich - no need to apologize for the length of your comment. I always appreciate hearing your thoughts. That's quite something that you stood up for yourself in the dream. I love how dreams can teach us about ourselves.

HeyJules said...

Hope: What a great piece of writing. You almost always take me some place I've never been before and I thank you for that.

As for the friendship thing, I try to remember that some friends are ours for life and others are for a certain part of the journey. There's nothing wrong with not telling her where you are today if, in your mind, she's not going to understand it. If, however, you truly DO want her back into your life, then I'd send her this link and tell her thank you for giving you something to write about and thank her for being there for you in the past...see where that goes.

Otherwise, she was what she was. She was there for you when you needed her and maybe now its time for those of US who hang out here to take you through this next piece of the puzzle.

Only time will tell, eh?

truevyne said...

I discussed this very issue with a dear friend issue- how I blew an opportunity to really love my extended family because I was in such a self protecting stance at Christmas. I literally missed living in the moment. I could beat myself up or how about I consider the monastic principle of beginning again? Fresh start. Asking God for forgiveness, receiving it and moving on to live in this moment. That's my goal.
I'm not kidding when I say an episode of Jerry Springer can't hold a candle to some of the chaos my family offers, but I carry the strength of Christ inside. Nothing can snuff that unless I allow. And I had allowed myself to get in the way of Him.
So, will you move on to forgiveness of self with me?
All my love,

Hope said...

Thank you truevyne.
I spent some time today hashing it out in prayer and what came to me was the need to be very compassionate towards myself.
Moving with you.

Thirsty Girl said...

Great thoughts. It is so true. I struggle so frequently with letting others define me. It can be crazymaking.