On Not Knowing How I’m Feeling
Those who know me know that I’m big on not knowing. I mean, there are some issues that I come down hard and fast on, but generally speaking I give the benefit of the doubt way more than I should, and I allow for a fair amount of leeway when scaling orthodoxy. I’ve been wrong far to often to deny an intelligent person’s reasoned opinion on most matters. Unless they’re wrong, which seems to happen all the time on the internet. People being wrong on the internet keeps me up at night because I’ll argue my case long after they say “nope, that’s just the way it is.” Mostly, I like the debate, the competition of it, like intellectual wrestling or mental bocce ball. At the end of it though, as long as I’m not caught up in the fight, I’m happy to allow for the possibility (however slim) that they may be right.
This is a dancing pickle:
I am a master of the non-sequitur.
So yeah, to bring it back closer to the point, and in defiance of all those who hold me in high esteem (both of you – what up!), I don’t always have the answer (although I’m usually willing to fake it convincingly). The big question that I haven’t been able to fake a convincing answer to lately is “how are you doing?” I could say Fine, but I don’t think I am. I don’t know whether that’s a lie or not, so I don’t know how to play it off. It probably is, though, and it’s lame, so I don’t usually go that route. The most honest answer I can give right now is “I don’t know,” but people just keep looking at me like they’re expecting more, or like they feel like I’m not trusting them or the authenticity of their concern.
It’s a weird feeling not to know how you’re feeling. I feel like it’s something I should know. As much as I might pass myself off as an authority on a wide variety of subjects, I am definitely the world’s foremost authority on what’s going on inside my head.
I have no clue.
My friends and family ask me and I’m left with the blank stare of a McDonalds addict who was just asked what percentage of their recommended daily caloric intake they just consumed in a single sitting. I’m freaking out but I’m not. I’m anxious and upset but I’m not. I’m tired. I’m not blowing people off when I say I don’t know how I’m feeling. I really don’t know. As much as I’m cool with not knowing how the End Times will play out, or who’s allowed into heaven and who’s not, or what my cats are really thinking when they look at me like I might be food, I’m not cool with not having answer to this question. As I consider it, I’m coming to believe that it’s primarily because of the pressure I feel to have an answer. To appease the people that love me and care about me and want to offer their support. I know you want to help, and it hurts not to be able to let you. If I knew what would help – if I had a clue what I was feeling – I’d tell you.
(There’s a long winded pity party for you, some classic 90s blogging.)
Can we make that okay? Can “know thyself” take a backseat to “be thyself” for a while?
I’m going to talk for a second about the friends of Job tonight. Generally speaking, they’re raging douchebags with incredibly bad and ill-informed advice (been there, can’t come down to hard on them for it), but you’ve got to give them this: when Job’s life was going to pot, this is what they did: “they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was. [Job 2:13]” They dropped what they were doing and came to be with him. They don’t become jerkasses until they start pushing and prodding at “what he did wrong to deserve it”. They had it right the first time. They were just there. Actions are love. Presence is love.
I think that as humans when we see something that’s broken we either want to poke it or fix it. We don’t do well with things that are too sensitive to poke and too convoluted and messed up to fix. We try to package it in a way that we can understand then make it better. Sometimes we can’t make it better, sometimes it doesn’t fit into a neat box. I think deep down we know that and we try to take care of other people’s issues as a way of cathartically dealing with our own. Can we [I] learn how to offer support without offering advice? Without needing to get in there and clean up the mess like a some kind of superhero emotional janitor? Let’s be Broken people together. I know it will get better. I’ll sort it out. We’ll sort it out. All I really know is that for now I’m lost in my head, and I’d just appreciate some good company while I wander.