Saturday, July 11, 2009

"As far as I'm concerned, it's all hot. Just because I'm not sticking it in there doesn't mean that I don't find it beautiful."

The title of this post is a quote from Adam Lambert in his infamous Rolling Stone article. I read that quote, and I thought it was the most awesome thing OMG EVER, so I wanted to use it somewhere, but the thought crossed my mind that if I did, some of my friends would be pissed off at me. I've been this way all my life, always finding friendships with people who don't respect me, or who put me down all the time, or who just basically treat me like garbage. I don't know why it is. Someone told me that as humans, "we accept the love we think we deserve," and I think that for me, there's a lot of truth in that. Maybe a part of me thinks that I deserve to have friends who cut me off in mid-sentence to mock what I'm saying, or to roll their eyes at me and tell me "that makes no sense" when I speak (even when what I said makes perfect sense, thanks) or who tell me that I look like shit and they don't want to be seen in public with me, or who wait for me to tell a story that I think i s so beautiful it brings tears to my eyes to tell it, and then when I'm done roll their eyes and say "that was stupid." I could go on and on. I seem to have a talent for picking relationships with people who don't respect me (and most of them wouldn't even recognize that they do this if I tried to talk to them about it...I know because I HAVE tried).

Part of being self-aware is realizing that I need to change some things, but the hard part is knowing that I have to work on ME, because I can't change anyone else. I have so many issues that I don't know where to start some days, but until I'm capable of seeing any good in myself, no one else is going to see any good in me, either. So onward I go.

I wrote this message for a friend, and I posted it on a message board awhile ago, but just to remind myself (and because maybe some of you might want to hear it, as well) I'm posting it here, too. I love you guys.

Someone posted this passage from the children's story "The Velveteen Rabbit" the other day, and I haven't read or thought about that story in years, but when I read these words again, they hit me so hard that I cried, because they describe me so well:

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very nappy. But these things don't matter at all. Because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

So I was thinking about this the other night, in the midst of about a week without sleep (and with very little's been a dark week) and these words came to mind, so I started praying them:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Recently, I've started praying the serenity prayer at work. Like I said, I haven't slept in days, and I'm so stressed out and such that it seems that drinking and drugs and razor blades have never been as tempting to me as they are right now. I was thinking how weak I was that the temptation had never seemed to bother me this much in the past, and I'd never been overcome with it like I seem to be right now. Then last night it hit me...of COURSE it seems like the temptation is stronger now than it was before. Before, I always gave in. Now, I don't do those things anymore, so I know what it feels like to struggle against something that used to rule my life so strongly. It seems harder now because I'm fighting, and fighting is always harder than giving in.

I actually cried, I was so relieved to be able to see it that way. I have such a hard time seeing myself in a positive light and seeing myself as strong, because even typing those words seems alien to me. I'm not strong. I'm not anything good or noble or righteous, not the way I should be, because I'm surrounded by tangible reminders of every ugly failure I've ever had. But the thing is, these scars make me who I am. I shouldn't have made them, it was wrong, it was bad, blah blah blah, but even if it was wrong, they're here now, a part of me, and scarred skin may be ugly, but it's also stronger than regular skin, because something about the process of knitting itself back together makes it tougher than it was in the past. I may be ugly, but these marks show that I have lived, and that I'm still here to tell the tale.

So I thought about the things I can change, like my attitude, the things I can't change, like the nasty comments and opinions of others, and how the hardest thing for me has always been knowing the difference between the two, because I want so badly for other people to like me and see something good and worthy in me that I always think if I try hard enough, I will be good and be righteous and people will see that and finally, I will be good enough. It never works out that way, though, and because of this, every negative opinion hurts that much more because it reminds me again how I've failed and how I'll never be good enough. But there again, that's looking at things backwards...if nothing else, people's negative comments should remind me that no matter what I do, someone somewhere is going to disapprove, and I can't live for the opinions of others, I have to live for myself, because I'm the only one who has to be around myself 24/7 for the rest of my life. And as I was musing on the words of this prayer, I started praying it, over and over (I do that sometimes, pray the "Hail Mary" or the "Our Father" because those are the ones I can remember, and they help me focus on God and keep going) and I realized that "The Serenity Prayer" is probably the best thing I could pray to myself at work and throughout my life, when I'm surrounded by other people and their opinions, things I can't change, and motivated by the desire to be whole and accepted more than any other thing. If nothing else, God accepts me where I am, and I'm doing everything I can to put one foot in front of the other and keep going and survive, and I'm feeling every sling and arrow because I don't have drugs or alcohol or anything else to numb the pain like I had in the past. I'm realizing how much pain hurts when you have to actually FEEL your emotions. But this is good. It means I'm still alive, still becoming. All things new.


  1. Thanks for posting the story from the Velveteen Rabbit. I'm at a point where I'm scared to become Real because I want to keep my hair, I don't want to have my eyes fall out or get loose in the joints ... but I want to become Real.

    For me, it goes with a quote from Anais Nin, which I'm going to have to paste up somewhere prominent: "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."

    So, yeah. Still alive, still becoming, everything changes and nothing stays the same. I'm here with you.

  2. I had all but forgotten about The Velveteen Rabbit.

    I did find, while going through all those piles of books the past few weeks, the copy of May Sarton's "Now I Become Myself" that our AP English teacher handed out just before high school graduation. It didn't make much sense to me then; it makes more sense now, but only enough to make me believe that Becoming Myself is a process, not a destination. Kinda like becoming Real.

  3. Rachel - Yeah, I loved "The Velveteen Rabbit" when I was a kid, but you know how some things from your childhood are so distant that after awhile you don't remember why you loved them anymore, so you half forget about them until someone or something brings them to mind again? That's how it was with this book. I had a chance to read it again and it was like hearing the story for the first time. It's actually a beautiful book, reading it now, and I appreciate it so much more now than I did when I was younger. Part of it is that I get to read it myself now, I don't have to listen while my mom reads it, and it's like everything I read in the pages I'm seeing for the first time because I can read it with my own eyes, so the reactions become mine in a way they never were when I was a kid. I like that feeling. I think it's good that things change, but it's hard to see where or how I fit into this new skin. It's good to know I'm not alone.

    Dani - yeah, I kind of forgot about it, too. I'm thinking maybe I should go back and read "The Secret Garden" again, since that was another book I loved and read over and over and over again when I was a kid...anyway, I read that quote from The Velveteen Rabbit, and it makes my heart hurt. I think, "but I WILL be ugly to EVERYONE because what if NO ONE understands?" I don't know if I want to become real, either. It hurts.

    ...which reminds me of this song:

    I'm growing. I don't like it. I'm growing, and it hurts. I love You, but I'm tired.
    Guess I've got a lot to learn. Yeah, I guess I've got a lot to learn.

    Don't leave me here. You said You'd not forsake me, but You never said that You wouldn't break me to make me over in the image of You. In the dark night of the soul, when there's no comfort in prayin', not a moment's pleasure in strayin', You're the only shelter I know.

    I'm growing. I don't like it. I'm growing, and it hurts. I love You, but I'm tired.
    Guess I've got a lot to learn. Yeah, I guess I've got a lot to learn.

    When feelings fail, when "close enough" isn't good enough, when "full enough"
    just isn't full enough, Your grace will be sufficient for me. No wind to sail. No rain to water the flowers. In my most desperate hours, You will be the strength that I need.

    I'm growing. I don't like it. I'm growing, and it hurts. I love You, but I'm tired.
    Guess I've got a lot to learn. Yeah, I guess I've got a lot to learn.

    Thanks for commenting, you guys. It seems odd to me to be updating here instead of my LJ, but this fit with the posts I've been making here, so here it went.