Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"this time baby, I'll be / bulletproof..."

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.


Pretty Zesty said...

Wow. Great post. People amaze me sometimes... and not in a good way!

Anonymous said...

first of all: I love the song (which inspired your title)but I hate the video to this song:) Second of all: this post made me realize that all I do is writing about a total bullshiz on my blog. Somehow I can't be serious.

And: wouldn't being 'bulletproof' mean being incapable of feeling? I mean, I cannot imagine someone not feeling hurt in certain situations, also like the one you wrote about. People who are bulleproof like that and they control their feelings...maybe they don't have feelings? They're psychopatic. That's classified and dangerous disorder..Okay, I went a little bit too much into extremes, didn't I.

B. Nagel said...

I think every time you post, the internet can't help but be more infatuated with you and your armor-off honesty.

Lucky LA.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Amazing post. We all have the child inside and will until the day we die. It's like a core around which the rest of us grows. We can't really be bulletproof, but we can nurture ourselves, as you said. Thanks for this.

Robin said...

I hear what you are saying. We take our control back by loving what we don't like about ourselves. Or as God says to Joan, "We all have things that we don't like about ourselves. When the weight becomes too heavy we can choose to set it down. That's when we can see things the way they really are." Understanding something in my head, loving the things I don't like about myself, choosing to set my burdens down all sound great in theory. In fact, there are times I think that I have a handle on it. It is when a real life situation rolls around and I have to apply it that it gets tricky. I really feel for you with the friend situation. I have two of those going on. The difference is that they are ignoring me from the distance of several states. There are no chance encounters and we don't run in the same social circles. In one case there is occasional short emails that go back and forth. In the other, there is NOTHING. Well, every now and then I call and leave pathetic messages on her answering machine saying something like you can't ignore me forever. She is actively proving me wrong. Hurts worse than any boyfriend breakup.Ever. Much worse than my divorce. My admiration level just keeps going up. I don't know how you leave the house.

drollgirl said...

oh you are so right. the good, the bad, and the ugly emotions exist in us all and with good reason.

a really good blogger friend recently ditched me. very strange, and i can't quite understand it. but people are fickle, and they move on, and i guess we have to deal with that in one way or another.

Lydia Kang said...

I had a similar experience once with someone I thought was a friend. My first reaction was very childish. But now, I've come to appreciate those feeling for what they were. I'm not proud of them, and yet, they were a part of myself, and I understand myself more because of them. Does that make any sense?
Great post. And I do love that song, though the video also makes me a little batty!

Annje said...

Awww... that must sting a little... I wish I could tell you that you don't need him/her and that lots of other people love you (that part is true, it seems), but it always feels kind of sucky to get rejected...

akka b. said...

You are a BRAVE HEART.

In fact our greatest pain, naturally morphs into our greatest gift.

You have demonstrated that here. xx

* said...

Lack of bulletproof armor, I hear you on this one. I wish I had it sometimes, although only if it were made of chocolate, maybe. ;)

Almost exactly one year ago, a dear friend of mine unfriended me.

It was very difficult to lose her as a friend (completely her choice). It threw me into a tail spin. It took me months to gain perspective.

As B. Nagel commented, your "armor-off honesty" is beautiful. Try and keep that, as well as perspective.


Sage Ravenwood said...

Oh, I know this feeling so well. Just remembering brought a tear to my eye.

When I first went deaf, there was so much anger, hurt, defiance...and so many friends didn't have the patience or understanding for that. In the end I lost far more than stayed the course.

Did it hurt...like the blue blazes. The big girl me, understood I might of been just as much to blame as they were for leaving. Didn't make it hurt any less.

What it did do is allow me to embrace a part of myself, I truly hated (still do). I can't help that communicating with me isn't easy. I can't help that I'm deaf. I can however surround myself with people that get me, the good and the bad wrapped up in one tight bundle.

I wished we lived closer. I can't imagine you NOT being one of those forever friends. (Hugs)Indigo

Marion said...

I hear you, dear Phoenix. I've built walls around my heart to no avail. They were made of clouds. I've also said this many times to myself: "You can't put your heart out on the street and expect it to remain free of tire marks." :-) I'll never completely get over being unceremoniously dumped by my best girlfriend of over 25 years...YEARS! And over something so petty, it's laughable. We talked on the phone daily for years. I still miss her. I'm amazed how often this has happened to others, too. Sad. True friends are a treasure.

Great, honest post, girlie. Keep on truckin'. Love & BLessings!!

g. fox said...

I say use the bones and the gristle along with the meat and the tusks.

Sorry, that is an obscure metaphorical reaction and also a little gory, but I'm stressed.


Eric W. Trant said...

I tap. I don't mean that I tap sometimes, I mean that I'm a schizo-tapper.

In school, my teachers hated me.

I was a good kid, smart, did my classwork, graduated top of my class, but I was also that kid who wouldn't stop tapping and fidgeting and sucking his lips and twirling his pen and shuffling his feet and, "ERIC WOULD YOU PLEASE SIT STILL!"

"Yes, ma'am."

Tap-tap-tap. I clicked my teeth together, rolled my tongue, bit my cheeks and lips, anything to quiet both the teacher and my inner tapper.

One teacher used to throw erasers at me. I took to sitting way, way, WAY in the back of the class.

It was a protective instinct, I guess.

I still sit at the back of the room, near the door, away from flying objects.

I still tap my fingers, teeth, bounce my feet, wrinkle my nose. Everywhere you see people sitting, you see me tapping, tap tap tapping. I've learned how to be quiet, but never never how to sit still.

It's an affliction. My doc says it's OCD -- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

My ex-wife says it's ADHD and she was constantly on me: "ERIC WOULD YOU PLEASE SIT STILL!"

"Actually, no, I can't."


My new wife, she doesn't say a thing.

Not a word.

I'm not sure she's ever mentioned it. Maybe a few times, but when I say, "Baby, does that bother you?"

She says, "What, the tapping? No, go ahead."

You see the difference, don't you?

That tapper is my inner self, my inner child. I don't hate him, or love him, but I accept him. For a while, in high school, I was one HELL of a drummer. I still am, you know, I just don't use a five piece trap set anymore.

My wife, she accepts that inner guy. All the women I got along with accepted that part of me. I could line them up and tell you who loved me and who hated me based completely on what they said about the tapping.

One girl, in college, she used to like it. I'd bang out a blues rhythm on her kitchen table, or something tropical in her sink (a good sink sounds like a steel drum), and she'd close her eyes and listen and say, "Eric, you can make music just about anywhere, can't you."

"Hell yeah, I can, baby."

She used to dance to it sometimes.


My point is that we all have things about ourselves that other people might want us to change, things they love or hate and there's nothing in-between.

Some might say to you: "TRACY STOP BEING SO SENSITIVE!"



But then, if you stopped being so sensitive, you'd stop being Tracy, now wouldn't you.

Just like I'd stop being Eric without the tapping.

If you ask me, it's those little quirks that make us easy to describe. I'm the guy who taps, drives you crazy with all the tapping.

Tap tap tap.

And you're the girl with the big-ass heart.

- Eric

Anonymous said...

I could have written this myself.

I can never understand, when I numb my feelings to stop myself feeling pain, how I can still hurt so badly.

Answers, please, on a postcard to . . .

Bathwater said...

I don't think you could make yourself bullet proof it isn't in your nature, I think even if you were on anti-depressants your feelings would struggle to brake through.

If I was adding lyrics to go with this post it would from Odd One, by Sick Puppies. I'm saving that one for a future post of mine.

You have to remember when some turns away from us it is almost always because of something going on with them. The world would be so much easier if we were able to make others feel the way we do, wouldn't it.

Scarlet-O said...

to agree with everyone here first- great post, great observation... you catch so insightfully and clearly this complexity of the human heart.. but no.. i agree with the essay!!! i love these parts of myself... being sensitive, being affected, having a heart, caring... it's passion and soul... if it's just an ego bruise, that's one thing and it's normal too... but to care that someone is no longer in your life... well that's beautiful, you want to care, and you want to be affected, and to keep your spirit pure... the opposite, in my opinion, is not living at all. Use all the colors in your palette.


Ed Pilolla said...

i'm going through this now too, or my own version of it. i get irritated with the fact that i freak out over certain uncertainties and demands in my life. basically, i have work to do lately i generally don't enjoy, so i'm attempting to change my attitude and i have to an extent, but mr. freak out is never far away. how can i possibly like mr. freak out? he is just not cool at all.

but i think mr. freak out is just the shadow part of the artist in me. the artist loves comfort and inspiration, and fucking hates discomfort and slave work. i don't know, freak out is an essential part of the artist. freak out knocks me off paths that don't put me in a space to create.

Darcy said...

breaking up with friends is HARD! I always wonder, why why why and totally obsess. Even when the friendship is past its prime, I can't help it! It's natural. I think ;-)

Dave said...

To be truthful, I'm married to a very sensitive woman. I probably lean a bit toward the thick skinned personally, so there are definately times when I can't believe she lets something, or someone, get to her. But if I had a choice (and I did) I would take a sensitive person every time.

Keep throwing punches and sooner or later you'll knock your problems flat.

Avo said...

Weary awakening, early morning, midnight barely past
Silenced streets sigh like snow kissing pavement during the night
Even vestal white seems tainted by dirty yellow street light
Not a soul in sight as words flower on the wall torn at last
Barriers built keeping in keeping out, weeping all throughout
Dawn finds the sun shining free, a page is turned.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to have to tell you, but even at my great age, the hurt still can seep through.
I really don't think we would be human if it didn't. One just have to have enough self confidence to not let it bother you.

Barbara said...

Oops! That anonymous comment was me!
I just know you will still be my friend even when I screw up! :)

Kristin Quinn said...

Now I am singing the song!! What you are saying is right on... but sometimes yes more often times than not I'd rather be bulletproof. "Breaking up" with friends is so difficult and I'm sorry. Though it doesn't make any sense to me... who wouldn't want to be your friend? And still you described this person in a positive light even though they are hurting you. This just goes to show once again how much integrity you have.

Dr. Mohamed said...

If it wasn't for our sensitivity and our vulnerability, we could not fall in love. Yes, each can be a burden from time to time. But I'd never want to forfeit the parts of me that let me love deeply.

Gwen said...

Sometimes friends suck. I've had to cut a few loose recently and as hard as it is I know I'm better off. I love how strong you are!!! XOXO

P.S. Did you see Inception yet?

Anonymous said...

You're such a strong writer. I always enjoy reading your posts.

Pretty Zesty said...

Hey! Your page isn't loading properly for me so I have no idea where I am posting but I wanted to let you know that I have a giveaway brewing on my site!

Debra Lynn Shelton said...

Beautiful, poignant post. I'm so glad Robin directed me to you. I'm going through a pretty rough patch myself right now (soon to be divorced after a very long marriage) and I HATE it when I know I'm thinking and acting like a 12 year old. However, that's the way it is sometimes. I know I'll get through, but getting through it is hell. I keep remembering the comment by Winston Churchill, "When you're going through hell, keep going." Yeah, that.

krista said...

isn't it strange, this tightrope we walk when it comes to interpersonal relationships. i still try to deal with the idea that there are people that aren't going to like me. in fact, i live next door to one. it sucks. it's based on nothing and makes me feel like crap. but whatever, right? le sigh.

stacey said...

I can't imagine not wanting to be your friend anymore. I wish I could be closer so we could go back to the old days of philosophizing at Irvine Marketplace and the Orange Square. I miss you so much.

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