Monday, August 27, 2012

The suck sucks.

"Embrace the suck, for the suck is part of the process" - AJ Jacobs, Real Simple, May 2012
I literally JUST read this line in an article about being creative and how that prolongs mental acuity, and had to stop to brain-dump. I've been stewing on things for several days. And I don't like what I've recognized. 

I have royally screwed up on something very important to me. And I managed to blindside myself with it to boot. It's been a long time coming, and I was oblivious to it till it was too late to save as much of it as I could have. Of course, anyone who knew me from childhood knows I take comfort and refuge in my oblivion, as I'm painfully aware of so many other things that spurn any number of thoughts and emotions.

What have I killed? My relationships with people who aren't in my face daily, or live in my computer. Therein lies my problem. My most valuable connections have become those that live online. It started when I found out my friend was given a proverbial death-sentence a few months ago. For the record, she's still defying those doctors, albeit not quite as feistily as she has in the past. I learned via her blog, a few days after her post. It wasn't via phone, in person, or heck, even a private message on crackbook. Ouch. I'd made myself unavailable and less present in her life, and learned this detail like pretty much everyone else did.

Then, I decided that with the first day of school, I should celebrate the quiet my days can have between the schlepping tasks that I mourn having to do. I posted a "hey let's do a woohoo/boohoo coffee at my house", and 99% of the responses came from people who live in my computer and so many miles away that it requires days in a car, or boarding a plane and me schlepping them from the airport for the visit to happen. One person made it, one person was on the way out the door when something came up, one person simply had too many things for her own family to do she couldn't come. Everyone else was either working, or doesn't see me as important in their life to come join me. I haven't made efforts, why should they, right?


I reasoned that I'd deferred my social life to my husband's school schedule, need for study and homework time that didn't involve also minding his spawn so I could be the social butterfly. That's only partially accurate. A part of it is also fiscal. That mom-bus is not the beacon of fuel efficiency, and with all the driving that I *must* do for my family of 6, there comes a point that I fail to muster the wherewithal to do any driving if I even wanted to do it. Plus, given the unemployment/underemployment of our lives the last couple years, I simply couldn't afford the 60 mile round trip to the yarn shop, 16, 20 or 60 to a friend's house when I have to spare the wear & tear, and fuel just get where I must be.

Honestly though, the larger blame falls squarely on MY shoulders. I could have picked up the phone. I could have dragged the toddler with me, and shortened the visits according to the toleration she or my friends demonstrated with the situation. I relied too heavily on a virtual connection to people, and my personal connections fell by the wayside.

So now, I have almost zero turnout to an invitation, I get a cool reception when I try to join a conversation at church with people who were happy to see me 2 years ago, I find friends from church have ended the virtual friendship online after other friends were strongly disagreeing with what was said on the internet. I apologized to the now-unfriended friend, but I think that relationship is soured terribly over it. And I'm the loser in it all. She's an awesome person. And then I had NO idea she had some major and scary health issues involving surgery. No one tells me anything anymore, and that hurts too. I do care, but my actions state otherwise apparently. Again, that was my mistake, and I failed them and myself.

I have friends who have moved into another circle that I doubt I'll ever join, simply because my kids probably won't be attending the parish school. These families post pictures of communal activities, and I think "wow, that looked like fun", and then the sour "would have been nice to be invited". And I look, and everyone present has a child at the school. I understand that they're connected that way, and I hold no ill regard for it. But in at least the 2 parishes where I've been for more than a few months or years, I see it every time. I am (or at least was) friends with some of these people prior to their joining that club of school parents. It stings. I called a couple of them out on it about 5 years ago and was told it was imagined. Really? Then how about asking the people you know from church whose kids do NOT attend the parish school if they want to carpool to and from youth group meetings, or go sit at Starbucks or Panera while the kids are there, so we don't have to drive all the way back home or find something nearby to do so we can save the gas going home and coming back again 2 hours later. So far, none of them have. I'm not in their faces often enough to remind them that I want to have a friendship with them. And I don't want to be that annoying fly who keeps showing up and buzzing around unwanted. So I leave them alone more, furthering the chasm in our friendship.

The other night I told my husband that I basically left a friend whose husband deployed last year high and dry. When we learned of the impending orders, I told myself that I would make myself available to help her when ever I could, because she was amazingly available when Blur was a baby. I understood the stresses of deployment, having dealt with it myself when the boys were raucous preschoolers who drove me to want to drink (and I did). And what did I do? I figured that she was busy with work, baseball for her son, gymnastics for her daughter, had help from her mom, helped her mom with grandma, had come to rely on another friend whose kids went to the same school - and I left her alone. I was either afraid of imposing on her, or I was impeccable with the timing of a call (shower, bathroom, walking in to work, at the game...take your pick, I'm stellar with timing), or I was afraid to call and catch one of those moments. BIG OUCH. She's moved on to other friendships that don't include me. She's still happy to see me, but I don't know that our friendship is the same either.

I suck as a friend. I have long known this about myself, because of a genetic tendency to circle my wagons when certain kinds of chaos appear in my life. It's not entirely an acceptable excuse.
I'm sitting here with my eyes welling because I am mad at myself and, yes, even those I call friends, acquaintances, etc. Mostly I'm mad at myself. I've hurt myself, and my friends. And knowing that about myself sucks. I really DO value my friends, and the friendships I have with them. I just fail to show it. And I'm sorry. I need to call these people directly and apologize, but at the moment, this measly apology for the world to see online is all I can muster at this moment. I'm still raw and angry and hurt. And I know myself enough that I need to make peace with myself and this situation a little before I make those calls. I don't want to start out apologizing for being distant and unavailable, and end up unleashing on them, negating the apology by blaming them for their share of the chasm in our friendship.

So, if you're one of those friends I've let fall off my radar, or I've fallen of yours, I apologize. This is me attempting to embrace the suck that I've created, so I can try to figure out what to do next about any of it.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Life, and how you live it

Today, I was scheduled to read at Mass. No big deal, it's old hat by now for me. But somehow, in rushing around to get out the door (forgetting to bring my electronic leash), I ended up with some kind of unprovoked anxiety, complete with elevated heart rate and shallow breathing. I was having the worst time centering myself and clearing my mental clutter. I was pleasantly surprised to see our pastor Monsignor H celebrating Mass today, versus our usual, the associate pastor, Father L. Whoever schedules the priests really needs to consider a rotating schedule, and not hogging Msgr H to whatever Mass that person attends. We love Father L, but Msgr H has some awesome homilies that we don't get to hear as often. Seeing Msgr H in the vestibule, I stopped to greet him and share my delight in seeing him in vestments instead of just his collar. He always has a thought provoking question when we encounter each other. I love how his mind works to make me think about things I wouldn't normally.
Today, he asked "Do you think it's a fair question to ask what people's mindsets are walking into the doors of the church, and what they are as they leave?"
I said "Absolutely, it's a fair question. I know for myself I'm usually rushing to get here on time, and be early when I'm reading, and then sometimes fighting with traffic, and inconsiderate drivers en route. Today was not horrible trying to get out the door on time, but I was a bit rushed because I had to be early. I made great time driving here with no issues. But somehow, I ended up with a bad adrenaline rush that I've had the hardest time clearing away so I can be calm. So I imagine that others are fighting with distractions and diversions and struggling to clear their minds before Mass starts." He shared his thoughts, but wasn't able to finish them, as someone else needed to speak to him. Such is the life of a shepherd.
How awesome was that kind of Divine Intervention in hearing what I needed to hear, and articulating what was going on with me at that exact point in time. I somehow managed to get myself squared away so I could do my job. All the readings talked about living. Today's Gospel reading mentioned the word "life" 9 times. Then Msgr H's homily talked about the readings talking about life, and living it appropriately. He moved on to talk about the NASA Rover Curiosity, and how it will explore unknown places. He asked us to imagine a rover exploring our parish, and how it could be determined that the parish was alive. He asked us to imagine a rover exploring our hearts, and determining if we were living our lives appropriately.
I'm certainly guilty of letting the diversions get more of my attention than they deserve. Right now, I'm supposed to be matching up my coupons to the sales this week so I can restock the house with groceries. We're nearing "Mother Hubbard's Cupboards". But I had to get this out of my brain before I got too diverted and lost it, because I really felt like I needed to share it. I am prone to being easily distracted and my focus gets placed somewhere other than where it's most needed. I prefer to blame my ADD brain, which is only partially accurate. I still am responsible for what I do, and what I fail to do, regardless of how my brain is wired. Today's conversation with Msgr H gave me food for thought, and the homily drove home the point. With school starting, I really do need to make wiser use of my time, and allow fewer diversions to detour my day as much as I have allowed them to do up to this point. I could be so much more productive and have fewer "aw, crap" moments in my life.

How about you? What kind of diversions detour you from what you should be doing? What else can you accomplish if you set aside any number of diversions in your day?