Agency

The difference between being a victim of your life or the hero of it is agency.

The difference between being a victim or the hero of your life is agency.

Agency determines whether you are a victim of your life or the hero.

The difference between being a victim of life or the hero of your own life is agency.

To go from victim to hero, one must grasp agency.

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Dumbass

When a man talks about defending his child by having a gun.  The drunk who blacks out every night wants to keep a loaded gun under his bed.  Because that will make his 19-month old safer.

Evan is a dumbass 

Someone like me

Once I was asked, “Why don’t you spend time with people like you?”

To my surprise, there were two answers.  I thought compromise was part of every relationship and no relationship could be smooth-sailing. And secondly, I honestly didn’t believe there were people like me.  I didn’t feel as though I connected with more than a handful (read less than or equal to 5) of people in my life.  Every other relationship has been strained with substantial, almost daily chafing difference.
A similar question of why I was spending my time with people I didn’t even like, was a result of similar reasoning.  I had been trying to accommodate myself to fit school friends, college boyfriends, and later, all sorts of random people.  My mother once asked me why I was trying to get back together with a boyfriend I didn’t even like.  It was a pretty revelatory statement that opened my eyes to the truth: I didn’t want to be rejected, even by someone I otherwise wouldn’t want in my life.

I spent so much time trying to be someone else for others.  While complaining of others’ failings and my attempts to live with these people, I was asked, “Why don’t you just live according to your own standards?”

Again, the answer surprised me. I didn’t think my standards mattered as much as those of the people I was trying to change myself to be accepted by.  I didn’t agree with their standards, so I always felt tension in the relationships. But I didn’t leave, armed in the knowledge I was being true to myself. Instead, I sunk to ‘their level’. I lived my life according to the principles and behavior that I myself disagreed with.  And why, oh god, why? Because I didn’t think there were people with my values and that I had to compromise to have any friends and not be lonely.  I was desperately lonely. I found interpersonal connection hard to create.  I didn’t find people who I felt like I could be myself around.

So now, self-aware of these insights, in a romantic relationship I want to be true to myself and find someone like me. With the same professed values, interests, humor, and lifestyle.  As a friend once said, “After you marry, the relationship will stay the same or might get worse. But it never gets better.”  But combined with a ticking clock, loneliness, and less than stellar self-esteem, I find myself in my same old habit of trying to wriggle into a fit with someone. 

Anecdotally, I often try clothing or shoes once very quickly and decide it fits. I purchase it, cut the tags and then wear it for an entire day, at which by the end of said day I am very uncomfortable or in pain. The item doesn’t fit right.

I find the same in relationships.  I get so excited initially at what I see as a great fit with a glamourous new man (and rarely, a woman).  Then, within weeks, I realize this person is very different from me. I have just jumped in the deep end of infatuation and desperation and now I am drowning, trying to figure out how the relationship can be managed to fit.

Clearly I need to be more patient, discerning, and selective. It would help if I could catch a break and finally meet someone that’s really similar to me.  That’d be lovely.

Love stories with additive love

The typical love story is boy meets girl, they get married, buy a dog or cat, have kids, then grow old.

Now same sex couples can openly be together and have children. Possibly not what barren heterosexual Christian couples embracing reproductive technological advances had in mind.

But shouldn’t children be regarded as a blessing?  Even to unwed mothers, even to homosexual couples, even to couples that divorce.  A person’s personal feeling on a particular child may be complicated or negative, but shouldn’t society as a whole embrace the children of their future continuation?
As Andrew Solomon wrote, “I do not accept competitive models of love, only additive ones. I espouse reproductive libertarianism, because when everyone has the broadest choice, love itself expands. The affection my family have found in one another is not a better love, but it is another love, and just as species diversity is crucial to sustain the planet, this diversity strengthens the ecosphere of kindness.”

Personally as a single mom, I am looking for additive love. Someone that loves me and first baby, and will want to have more children. Someone whose parents and family will love all my children.  That siblings of different blood to all be loved equally.  To be a whole family, even if one child has a different father.  To have an abundance of love, instead of restricting it to mere biology.

I have struggled to keep my baby’s father involved. I know his family wanted only the baby, not me. Definitely not me with another love relationship and definitely not half-blood siblings.

This makes me sad.  Will my son have to go on solo trips to see his father and the rest of their family?  If I get married and have more children, will we go as well and have a separate vacation from my son?  That makes me sad, thinking about separating siblings because of the complicated and proprietary feelings of adults.

I still work very hard to keep my son connected with the other half of his family.  It’d be easier and less painful to cut off contact.  But the idea of my son having more family to love him is important to me.

It’d be wonderful to have all three families together to celebrate life’s special moments.  Right now, it’s hard to imagine.  Because it’s difficult to imagine people genuinely being happy for others, generous, unselfish, and optimistic.  The idea of people believing in an infinite additive love instead of our traditional redactive model.

“I don’t want to screw it up”

What is it about the words, “I don’t want to screw it up”?

To the fatalist, it’s nonsensical. Nothing can stop nor change what will come to pass.

But in a very human way, conscious, earnest, self-doubting, it’s at the heart of any strongly yearned for but precipitous result. A result not entirely one’s own to influence.

I see in it my younger self: dramatic, wishful, solicitous, and reliant.  As though my sheer determination should make an endeavor not mine alone to succeed in my own design.  There’s a certain youthful self-centeredness in the belief that the responsibility success or failure of the venture rests solely one’s self.  Sheer ego as though all that mattered was I.

Now older, it’s a phrase that slightly stings. Something the young child I was had said so many frivolous times.  

But now, I can’t help but to think that I can only show up as I am where I am.  The result is never mine alone to truly determine.  The emotion behind yearning to “not screw it up” has faded. It’s a relinquishment to the outside world, to other wills, forces, powers, goals.
I still think about “how” I screwed it up.  Unforgiving hindsight at where the past might have diverged towards a different present if I had acted elsewise.  And again, to a fatalist, a nonsense.  But in calmer, more rational moments that emotional yearning fades as well.  Perhaps there were mistakes, flaws, failings but never was my responsibility isolated in an empty space.

There’s freedom in acceptance.

Goodnight, Ben

Once there was a very silly boy named Ben. He wore sweaters on hot sunny days, exercised at the wrong times, and took naps right before bedtime.
Clearly Ben is a very silly boy. But he looked very dashing in his sweater and did everything else at the right time except for exercise and naps. But for the latter, Ben took a warm bath, drank a cup of chamomile tea, and listened to a bedtime story. Afterwards he fell quite deep into sleep and stayed well asleep all during the night.
Good night, Ben.

Something Broken

My heart might be broken.

I cry sometimes.   I have been sad for a long time.  More than a year, more than two or three.  For a very long time, I have been very sad.

So there are times when kindness I witness or experience causes me to cry.  Friendly words, strangers’ smiles, and much needed hugs from acquaintances all bring tears to my eyes that spill down the cheeks of my face and drop off of my jawline.

Wondering why unwarranted kindness makes me cry.  The most beautiful thing: generous love, kindness to strangers, undeserved and unreserved affection – the world made better by people giving their best to someone else merely crossing their path by chance.

And it hurts me enough to make me cry.  It aches.  Worst than bruises or a swollen head, this kindness -this thing called love – makes some crack in me that gushes out pain and the symptom is a torrent of tears.

Maybe I have a stone heart.  It would make sense.  I don’t have hope, don’t want a reason to keep breathing for more than a few tomorrows.  I want to give up on futures, let go of hope.  Let go of myself because I can’t stand the hurt I endured by refusing to let go until now.

If kindness reaches in, it will make cracks in this stone heart of mine.  But even with a stone heart, I can still feel the pain.  Wondering why there is this queer pain, perhaps there is still a heart of flesh and blood underneath.   Maybe my heart’s hardness is just an exterior of stone.  And if kindness comes inside and the stone is broken apart, my heart will begin to pump hope and love into my life once more.

Permanently humbled

Permanently humbled is a concept a friend and I talked about today.  It happens with a tremendous loss of identity and ability.  Becoming disabled or crippled would be an example.

I never realized this happens because sometimes people talk about being humbled as a transitory experience.  But with any transitory experience, it ends. Temporarily humbled by a setback, when you overcome it, you regain your lost pride.  (Isn’t that the definition of humble: lost pride.)

But I don’t think of humbled that way anymore.  I think of being humbled as when circumstances change the way you create your self-esteem, and also that of others.  It is a permanent change in perspective; a shift in worldview.

Humbled is when you can’t change the circumstances surrounding you through your power but the circumstances defining you change you forever.