I don’t know any person who, as a small child, wished to be a self-sustaining and closed system. It’s something we, in this culture, associate with strength, but as I reflect on what it means in my life, I’m not so sure. It isn’t a choice we make for ourselves because it sounds like a fun and awesome way to be. We’re driven by necessity, self-preservation, and fear to close the doors, draw the blinds, and tend to fortifications. It is the reflexive withdrawal of the emotional survivalist. That’s the opposite of what I wanted for myself. And its something that, while I cannot magically unmake it, has had repercussions. Consequences.
The Strongest Part of the Soul
Scar tissue is the strongest tissue in the body. It’s made on the fly, willy-nilly. The body doesn’t care how it looks, as long as it serves to keep out the nasty things trying to get past the defenses. It is a programmed response to wounds. Humans do odd things; mimic what the body does in the intangible realm of the psyche. We do it even after we know that these scars ache and itch, beg us to tear them open with frantic and clawed fingers if only to feel something. New pain is the only sort we register. But we don’t. We leave ourselves alone to heal, and we eventually harden.
I’ve come to a point in my life in which I realize that my heart is more scar tissue than it is original Self. It no longer quite breaks. There is no egress for pain. How odd that is to say, to feel and yet not feel, because you can grow accustomed to almost anything that doesn’t kill you. One thing I cannot abide is the fear that comes with that familiarity. I now simply expect that anyone who gets close to me is going to hurt me, rending what has been mended. Why? Because, with few exceptions, they always do. Is it worth working to cast off my difficulties trusting people if those trust issues are justified?
Metaphorical Autoimmunity Run Amok
I was free writing this morning and something slithered out of the pen onto the page that startled me. I stopped, read it, reread it. And I despaired a little, because it was too searingly true. You see, even when I’m only talking to myself, I’m brutal. It’s not just something for others to (not) enjoy.
I’m so afraid of being hurt that I even protect myself from the good things.
You see, the secret I’ve kept from myself is that I’m not really strong. I’m not really unapproachable and unbeatable. I’m so desperately weak with longing for something real that it makes me an easy mark for those who would use me. I just want to be loved without going through the minefield of suspicion that has become an essential feature of my lived experience. I am a sap. Weak, not as water but as something that once bloomed and then died, desiccated for want of water. Touch me and I crumble. And I can’t pretend to cohesion, to form or function. Scar tissue. We only say nothing hurts because it never stops hurting. Pain becomes background noise for daily life.
People Are Flawed
Perfectionists are cruel to themselves, so they have no patience with others. I can’t aspire to that title, because nothing I do is perfect. I’m not harsh with others because I expect them to be perfect, but because I’ve stood in a hell of minimal expectations, trying to make things as easy as possible. The bar is low, but it doesn’t want to be and it fights me. So when they can’t manage it, I’m so exhausted from trying to keep it close to the ground that I have no energy left for understanding.
Perhaps what I really want to say is that I’m just so fucking tired of not wanting what I want, of holding back an ocean of expectations, of maintaining appearances. I know that not everyone hurts me because it secretly delights them. I know sometimes they’re tired from battles I know nothing about. But if they do not tell me about them, how do I balance self care with patience? Altruism is beautiful on paper, but it’s a stark reality of that human trait that it leads inevitably to death for the giver. Unmitigated generosity doesn’t work in a scenario in which I remain functional. So, how do I retain my pleasure at giving without the world using me up and casting me away–a husk that was once an altruist? This shouldn’t be a problem. This should be easy. But it isn’t, and I don’t know how to fix that.