On being human
Do you have a hard time admitting that you’re human?
I sure do. Just recently I lost something - I had saved up to buy myself some bluetooth headphones to listen to music and make phone calls. It’s missing. And I’m obsessed with it not being able to find it. I (ahem) do NOT lose stuff. I have members of my familythat lose and misplace stuff all the time. In fact last year for Christmas we bought the kids those “flat” trackers that they could put in their wallets or on their keychains because they are always misplacing stuff. But me…I don’t lose stuff.
Interestingly, what bothered me most about losing these headphones was that I didn’t want to be like “them” - you know, the other people in my family who lose stuff. That’s so…irresponsible. I mean really, if you put things in their place and are halfway conscientious…you won’t lose things. In my own estimation and self-righteousness, I had to be better than “them” because I was not distracted and irresponsible like “them.” What will happen in this family if the responsible one is no longer responsible. We’ll all fall apart. I won’t be strong enough to save us. We’ll all end up homeless, spending whatever money we do earn re-buying the same headphones over and over again.
I was so convinced that I (ahem) could NOT have lost these headphones that I made up a story in my mind that one of them probably hid them just to tease me and drive me crazy - the same way that they sometimes do with our plates of food if someone leaves the dinner table for a moment. I’m serious. I (ahem) could NOT have lost them - someone else must have misplaced them.
I absolutely could not face my own humanity - that sometimes, actually, I am irresponsible. (my soul cringes to even say the word). Sometimes I do make mistakes (sigh). Sometimes, I’m not better than others…I’m just like them. And my perfectionistic, arrogant, wants-to-be-seen-as-responsible-and-all-together ego feels ashamed. Which is why I distance myself “morally” (and sometimes actually) from these ones I love.
In that moment, I know that my imperfection won’t actually drive someone away because they think less likely of me…at least I know it cognitively. But emotionally, I think that’s my fear. That someone will see my faults and send me away. As a child relinquished at birth, this was the innate gift given me. Be perfect so that you won’t be relinquished and abandoned.
The “i’m-better-than-you” eye roll that I give (internally or externally) every time “they” inform me that they can’t find their wallet, phone, keys, charging cord and yes, just like me, headphones, is reflected back at me. Damn. I wanted to be better than them. And, I don’t want the eye roll coming my way, declaring my ineptitude. I’m not like “them.” I can’t be like them because it would say that I’m inept and irresponsible. And, that doesn’t fit with the virtual narrative of my greatness that I’ve made up in my mind.
As a bonafide codependent - meaning that I often let other peoples opinions (even perceived opinions) impact how I live and move and have my being - I have to come clean. As a bonafide codependent - who thinks that if only I could just “control” my own life and help be responsible for everyone else - I won’t have to face the shame I feel over being human.
I confess - I have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility. It probably came from the womb forth - it is practically a statistical fact that kids relinquished at birth feel “responsible” for not being good enough to be “retained” by their birth parent(s). And so we kick it into overdrive to overcompensate and please everybody (or nobody - depending upon which shame-turn it takes.)
There’s an easier solution than trying to pick up the slack for everyone else in my family - my aging parents, my distant (but well loved brother), my ADHD husband and girl-laughter, my very active teen boy-wonder. There’s a saying in the codependent recovery world (Al-Anon, ACA, Coda) that is something akin to this: When we attempt to control people and things that we have no business controlling, we are controlled. And oh, how much time and energy goes into maintaining this imaginary order - energy that gets siphoned away from me being able to feel my own feelings and make my own choices and live without judging and being judged.
The easier solution is to admit that I’m human. I have moments of being inept and irresponsible. And guess what - it does not merit me a cosmic eye roll from God. Rarely, have I seen an eye roll from my husband or kids (typically only when I make corny puns.) No, in fact, it doesn’t separate me from God’s love one iota. But it separates me from me and from those whom I love. I waste so much energy in trying to hold all things together. Oh wait - that’s God’s job (Col 1:17).
So, after obsessively compulsively checking and re-checking bags, purses, coat pockets and seat cushions, I am ready to just say it: I lose shit…and it doesn’t separate me from God’s love. And I say the word “shit” and it doesn’t separate me from God’s love. And I am a gloriously messy human being - longing to love and be loved…and I do it so imperfectly.
The air seems to enter my lungs more fully and freely after such an admission. I am human. I fail. I love. I long to be loved. I do humanity so perfectly imperfectly. And I choose, this day, to lovingly embrace myself just as I am - with all my crap, and all my glory.
“You didn’t cause it. you can’t control it, you can’t cure it.”
- What would you hate to be seen as? (irresponsible? lazy? stupid? overly dramatic? etc.)
- In whom do you see these traits (and maybe roll your eyes a little)?
- Take a moment to say aloud, “I am sometimes _____________ and it doesn’t separate me from God’s love. I am a gloriously messy human being and I will choose to love myself.
- Describe your experience of this exercise…what is most present to you?