Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Red Rover, Red Rover

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this—no guaranties of a beginning, middle, and end—but I guess that’s the upswing of a blog: no editorial process. This ain’t no Great American Novel.
I have spent pieces of the morning in an email conversation with a friend, wherein both of us have been thoroughly vulnerable and transparent about past and present emotional and psychological issues. And this isn’t a close friend, either—just someone I know, but the topic came up and in we went. Nothing huge and earth-shattering, and it started as a bit of a joke, but we’ve been plumbing deep waters now for the past couple hours. And I started wondering at how natural—that’s not the right word—how instinctual, maybe—it is to go deep with someone. (And for the record, this is coming from someone who puts up plenty of walls and holds plenty back, due to the myriad issues I have.)
We’ve come to identify our culture as one of self-reliance and self-dependence, of guardedness and the understanding that trust is no longer an issue because truth is no longer expected. And while I think those are on-point descriptors of what we believe we are, I don’t know that they are truly accurate of who we are. My brain is wired not to depend on other people, particularly men, because when I was 3 I learned my first lesson in that school, and I learned that lesson well. I spent much of my life crafting a version of myself that I thought would be most acceptable to people, and I could shift that self to accommodate different audiences. And while I’ve sought and found healing for a great many of my issues, they are still in there, the default settings on synapses tucked deep between my ears. So why is it that it takes two emails and half an hour for me to pour out a list of what makes me tick (or, more to the point, what jars and messes up my ticks)?
The vaguely new-agey, self-helpy psychology we know and love seems to send a message of self-discovery and self-containment; share your energy with the world but don’t let anything in to affect you, reject anything that tries to put itself on your perfect-already self. A gospel of glass walls, perhaps. But I don’t see how that meshes with a people who seem to have something in them that wants to meld and merge, give and take. You can’t do that through, over, or around a wall, glass or otherwise. (Some would argue that some people just aren’t wired like that, and I understand having major issues with closeness, but—please correct me if I’m wrong—I think it’s still a basic human drive, to be understood and accepted and taken in by someone else. And I don’t think that’s limited to a romantic, soul-mate sort of relationship; I think it extends to even basic, relatively momentary encounters.) There remains a need to cry across the distance, to issue an invitation to run into someone's arms--Red Rover, on an emotional level.
I am resisting the urge to write some sort of conclusive, summarizing thought, in part because I don’t know that there is one. Fiction Family, my greatest musical love these days, sings, “There’s war in my blood / I’ve still got wars to be won,” and maybe that’s my only conclusion—that I am at war with myself. That part of me craves to muddle into other people, to let my guard down and love and be accepted, to eradicate any walls I see; and the other part thrashes against the embrace, struggles out and into the open where I don’t need to depend on anyone, where I can assure myself that I am fine on my own, just me and my bricks and mortar.
One of my issues I mentioned with my friend today was my need to be consistently funny, because if people keep laughing they won’t stop to wonder if I’m worth the trouble (that’s a harsh, but not inaccurate, phrasing), and so I suppose it’s fitting that I end with a comic. When I mused about these thoughts on Facebook today, my brother posted yesterday's Pearls Before Swine comic:

1 comment: