Sunday, April 8, 2012

Inviting Unworthiness to Tea

Anyone who has been reading my stories knows that many of them contain questions about where I am headed in the second half of my life. (Up until recently, I hadn't even realized it, but - yes - I am entering the second half of my life.)

If I am honest, my stories do not simply ask potent questions, in the hope that answers will be revealed, but they also reflect fear about my direction. I try to keep it pretty contained. My stories offer a brave front, and often conclude with what appear to be the answers I was looking for. To be fair I do find answers when I write, but there is an underlying fear that I am reluctant to write about and put out there.

What is the fear? Well, the beauty of it is I think I have captured it in a nutshell: Unworthiness. This is a tricky theme because it permeates every aspect of life. (But that is only true, I think, when it remains buried. I think when we look Unworthiness right in the eye, it is impossible for it to act as a saboteur. This may be true of all fears, once visited they cease to become omnipotent, don't they?)

This morning I was talking to one of my closest friends and furiously jotting notes because so often she inspires my stories, and the title, Inviting Unworthiness to Tea popped right into my head. At once I knew that it wasn't enough to just admit to myself my big block to the answers I have been seeking is Unworthiness, but I had to actually meet her and have a conversation with her  as well. So I decided to invite Unworthiness to tea.

The gist of what Unworthiness shared with me is, I need to stop being afraid of what others think. When asked about how to go about this, she told me it was simple, that I just need to be myself at all times. Indeed this sounded enticing but what immediately came to mind were those awkward and incoherent moments, where, when I am talking to someone, and trying to explain my vivid experience, it feels as if I am sharing my views through the lens of a dragonfly's eye.


You see for as long as I can remember I have experienced what is going on around me, in a number of ways, all at once. What it boils down to is being part of a conversation, (say around a table at a gathering, for instance) and seeing the conversation in the form of body language, facial expressions, movements etc., while hearing undertones, and actually feeling the conversation, as if it is physically registering inside my skin, all at once. Nothing ever goes by me at face value. I am rarely shut down, only when I collapse of exhaustion after a particularly long day of analyzing.

Because I experience everything on a multifaceted level, and find it hard to articulate the layers of information I receive in one conglomeration to others, I feel unworthy - an outlier - unable to express myself adequately to be part of the group. I've learned it's best to filter. Best, because otherwise I might be labeled too intense, or irrational, or portray one of the less acceptable emotions: anger, sadness, fear... 

But see, there it is, I worry about others' reactions to the point of limiting myself. Though filtering can be a positive tool, always filtering is not. It's like portraying yourself in black and white when you were born to live in Technicolor.

To my credit, I have tried to be honest with those closest to me. And luckily, I've located some amazing people along the way who seem to understand, relate even. And yet, some of the people I have been close to have been harsh with my authenticity. It may be my feeling of unworthiness stems from sharing my most weighty truths with someone I trusted, and valued deeply, only to have them use this against me in some way later.

It's not that I want to blame others, maybe my perceptions are off, but I have learned I have to trust  myself first; without self trust, we can trust no one, really.

So where did I leave things with Unworthiness before our tea ended? I think we learned we have a mutual respect for one another. She's definitely a straight-shooter and taught me some things, like Unworthiness visits everyone even though they don't talk about it. I would like to think I taught her something too, if just that it is courageous to be vulnerable, and meet Unworthiness face to face. 

Maybe then, I will incorporate into my life both what she has taught me, and what I know in my heart to be true: sometimes life is discordant, sometimes when we try to tidy it up it only gets more unruly, but if we have a friend in our self, we will always have a partner to muddle through with---and this makes it all worth it.