I Will See Me Now

wp-1455976481982.jpgFive years ago I was completely lost, and it’s taken me this long to find myself again.

I saw my therapist again this week, for the first time in several months. I hadn’t avoided her because of the money, even though that’s happened before, but for the simple reason that I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to talk about my issues, wasn’t ready to face the mirror image of me that I couldn’t help seeing every time I looked at me.

And I realize that’s exactly what therapy is for, to face those issues, to deal with my personal image of myself, but if I wasn’t ready then I wasn’t ready. I think I’ve gotten to a maturity level where I understand my own tolerance a lot better. I know what I can take and what I can’t at this point, and I judge myself more harshly than anyone else. So I saw her when I knew I was at the right place to do so.

She did exactly what I knew she would, too. It’s just like riding a bike — therapy. There is something familiar about it that makes me feel comfortable and yet challenged at the same time. It makes me think about why I do the things I do, about how my opinions matter too. It forces me to see myself as I am, raw and unaccentuated. I am never polished, but after a therapy session I am reduced to sandstone.

Just the situation itself toes that line between acceptance and rejection because I can get comfortable there but the threat of the ticking timebomb always hangs over my head — the idea that we have only one hour to “fix” me. It reminds me that there is no “fix,” that there isn’t something so horribly wrong with me that needs to be managed. It brings it all back to me in clear backlit relief that I am my own best therapist. I just need to be reminded of it every once in a while.

I mean, who knows me better than myself? Over the course of the past five years I’ve come back to that time and again. My problem is that I tend to hide from me, hurtling down halls that lead to nowhere just because I can’t face the truth, because I can’t deal with the real me. He’s not who I have pretended to be for so long, but he’s not as horrible as I’ve felt either. He’s a human being who is striving to be honest, to do his best for society and for himself, for his family and for the possibility of more. He’s a flawed man who understands what it’s like to be at the depths but who always strives for the heights — maybe because of that.

Five years ago I was lost, and it’s taken me this long to realize it’s not five years ago anymore. It’s taken me this entire span of time to “get myself,” to realize who I am, to embrace it, and to try to stop hiding. Because hiding does more harm to me than anything else I could possibly do in my life. Because five years from now I want to look back and say this was only the beginning, that this was the start of something bigger than I could have dreamed.

Sam

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Dear Journal: Out of Focus

Blurry PrisonDear Journal,

My world is a mystery even to me. These days are like a dream, and I can’t make complete sense of them. I try, but they just fade away like so much ash in the wind. One moment I think I’m truly happy, and the next everything is crumbling down around me, but it’s the same day, and only separated by the length of those moments. I don’t know what to make of it, other than that now I’m just unsure of myself when I used to be very sure. I used to think I knew who I was, and that surety made me solid, but now I’m all blurry and I don’t know how to get back that strong focus.

My first camera was one of those where the lens didn’t come out, so there was no zoom. I had to get right into the belly of the beast before I could get a distinguishable close-up, and it drove me crazy, but I knew it was what I had to do to make the thing work the way I wanted it to. I swore to myself that when I had more money I would get a better camera, one that would allow me to keep my distance but maintain the focus at the same time. In that way I would be able to observe without being observed. It would serve to return the power of anonymity to me, the power of being the viewer without being the viewed.

Then I got that new camera, and I took a ton of photographs of everything and everyone. Most times they didn’t know I was snapping memories because I utilized the zoom feature to get those shots. It gave me a new appreciation for photographers who search for the perfect shot when they know people are watching. It was hard enough to get the perfect shot when they didn’t know I was observing. But then again that was the point, wasn’t it? Because there is no perfect shot. There are just intriguing moments, and if I’m lucky enough to catch them while they’re happening they become stories to share later. Taking a host of pictures to get one truly great one, that’s the dream.

So I started looking through those pictures, and I realized a lot of them are blurry. It’s a problem with perspective, isn’t it? When I took them they seemed clear as day, everyone in focus, everyone smiling, or laughing, or crying, but definite in their form. But after printing them out I saw what I hadn’t seen then because I knew what I had expected to see when I was taking them, so I had somehow transposed these blurry shots for what I felt were clear ones. That’s how I feel now, that I was those pictures, those moments I thought had been perfect, but I wasn’t. I was just a figment of my own imagination, a figure I made up so I could feel good about myself.

And now I need to find myself, the real me, the one who might be inadequate but who is also an authentic human being with wants, needs, and a perspective I am sorely missing now. I need to bring myself back into focus by breaking down those preconceptions and unearthing the truth. And maybe getting another camera to document it all.

Sam

Capital G

th“Well, I used to stand for something. Now I’m on my hands and knees, turning in my god for this one, and he signs his name with a Capital G.” ~Nine Inch Nails

You know god, the guy in the sky who looks down over us and says stuff like “It’s good.” From the time I was little I was well-acquainted with the big G, or at least I thought I was. My father was a preacher, and my mother was heavily involved in the church too, so I thought I was positioned closer than most to a true knowledge of the true god. I figured if anyone was going to be saved in the long run it was going to be me. I mean, it had to be me, because I had a close personal relationship and everything. I knew to spell his name with a capital G.

But somewhere along the line I realized that my father’s personal relationship, and my mother’s personal relationship, they didn’t equate a single bit to my own personal relationship with God. I had to figure that one out on my own, and that made me exactly equal to every other bloke on the planet who was also clueless about how to go about doing that. Sure, there’s a manual that starts with a capital B, but it’s so old and the language is so dowdy that I had no idea what any of it meant anyway, and the things I thought I understood could have easily been misinterpretations as well.

When do we use capital letters anyway? I mean, in our society they’re superfluous even when they are used. Generally I only see them anymore when someone is trying to write “scholarly,” not even in emails or text messages. Some people don’t even use a capital letter when signing their own names. I’ve seen more and more of that lately, so when we do use capitals it really is for special occasions or for special people. So this capital G that set God apart even before all this technology, even eons ago, it serves to set him apart even more now. When I use that capital G I know I’m talking about the one and only, not just some people’s approximations of who they think he is. Because it’s not about our perceptions. It’s about who he is.

Wow. So it makes sense that getting a personal relationship with God wouldn’t be an easy endeavor. I’ve spent nigh upon 30 years working on that one, and some days I don’t think I’m any closer to comprehending him, much less to having a relationship, some kind of give and take, with him. But I do know that it all starts with humbling myself, because God doesn’t go for all that confidence stuff. Why would he? None of us have done anything that’s worthy of his love, of his answering our prayers. He loves us in spite of ourselves, so going into it thinking that I was a preacher’s kid so God would take notice, that was entirely off point.

Maybe that’s the key. We can’t assume with God. We just need to be still and wait. It’s not about us, and it never was. It’s about him and his gift to us, his sacrifice for us even though we did nothing to deserve it, any of it. That’s how we get a personal relationship with the maker of all things, perhaps. We admit that we can’t do anything, that it’s all him, and we humbly bow and wait. It’s in the stillness, in the acknowledgement that we can do nothing, that’s when we can truly appreciate our God.

Because he is indeed awesome.

Sam

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