Have you ever felt like you wanted to be bulletproof? Like your sensitivity and the fact that you care only makes you weaker, makes your skin thinner, makes it easier for people to get in and hurt you?
Yeah, me too. It's one of my least favorite qualities about myself, my sensitivity. Because sometimes it doesn't seem very useful.
A couple weeks ago I was going through a really hard time with someone I used to be very close to. I'll spare you the boring details but it came down to the fact that this person, who is smart, funny, kind, and just my kind of geek, doesn't really have much interest in being my friend anymore. And besides the obvious Ego Flail of my inner Fourth Grader, this person is in my immediate group of friends. So it is hard to see this person and make polite chit-chat, knowing full well that this person doesn't have much interest at all in what I have to say or what's going on in my life.
It hurts. Like, a lot.
What hurts even more is that I just can't freakin' get over it. But emotions are cyclical like that: we get angry because we're still angry. We are afraid of being afraid. We can't get over... the fact that we're not over it. Like a tiny drill, the more we freak out over freaking out, the deeper it burrows itself in.
There's this great ten second essay from the poet James Richardson that says, "The part of myself I like is the part that works, like a good tool. The part of myself I love is the part that loves you."
Isn't that how we all feel? We love the parts of ourselves that are useful, functional. It's easy enough to be patient and loving with ourselves when we remember to floss, pay our bills, wash the dog, and give our partners the appropriate amount of attention.
What is hard is to love the parts of ourselves that are not as useful. The parts of ourselves that are over-sensitive, impatient, insecure, jealous, easily frightened. It is easy to look at these parts of ourselves, the parts that remind us of how young we once were and how young we still are at heart, and call them unusable, broken. It is easy to be embarrassed that we never really break out of being in high school sometimes. It is easy to try to lock these things away or pretend we never, ever feel them. Because they are not useful, and therefore are not to be loved.
Or is it that every single part of us is useful?
Because it is us. The good, the bad, the ugly... all of it is us. And all of it is useful in that it constantly gives us information about ourselves and how we act on this information is a choice, not a pattern we are destined to repeat and certainly not out of our control. The jealousy, the over-sensitivity, the small, insecure parts of ourselves... it is so easy to not love what we claim to have no control over. Someone says something, a button is pushed, and we react.
But to love is to accept, and to accept is to take control back again. When we are acting childish, we do not fix it by having childish reactions to our childishness (everyone got that?) We nurture the childish parts of ourselves by parenting them with unconditional love. And so then these feelings, even though they might be crappy, have a place in our hearts. And so then they become useful.
We are all so useful in our lack of bulletproof armor. Don't ever let the world tell you any different.
4 weeks ago