Wednesday, October 26, 2011

how to break stuff; how to fix it

I'm sitting here trying to think of a first sentence. My midnite snack is a mini bowl of butterscotch chips and a giant mug of Neo Citran; proof that I'm drawn toward opposing forces, even in the small things. It's a weird thing I've done you know - set myself up in a way for a really awkward silence-break. I tried to ease things off with terrible cake, although let's be honest, that cake hardly counted as 'easy'. How can someone announce that they are taking hiatus to fix themselves, and then come back unfixed? The whole-self-fix is not only unlikely, it's kind of silly. I suppose that's what I've realized during this month of stepbackitude: I'm not entirely fixable. Or maybe it's better to say it this way: I'm not fixable in my entirety. Next comes the oddly suprising truth: I'm okay with that.  I'm not totally sure I need to be totally 'fixed'.

The past four days have been largely spent on this same kitchen chair, staring at this same laptop, watching the previously unseen Sex and the City series, from square one. I moved recently (timed perfectly with my bloggy silence, actually), and although I should be unpacking the boxes I find myself staring at them from across the room between episodes. I briefly relocated earlier this afternoon, and organized my bathroom cupboards to the tune of SJP's imitation of neurosis, slowly putting things in my cabinets during the conversational pauses. I've wondered if I have things in common with her, or if I'm just allowed to hate her tendencies. She's a writer, and she stole my habit of narrating life in her head all day as if she were writing a column. Aside from this singular commonality, I have developed over the course of the week a lengthy exegesis on why I think SATC is perhaps the reason for disillusionment among women about relationships and general expectations from life. It isn't real by any stretch; nor is it realistic. But, as it stands, watching these characters interact with and sabotage their own lives has got me thinking about my own approaches and quirks, as if I hadn't been doing that already.

I have not discovered anything new about myself this quiet month, but I have re-discovered some of the old things. A good friend of mine recently described the call she feels in her spirit to head "homeward" - back to who she is instead of who her rushing calendar and peers expect her to be. In this conversation I found comfort, as I too have been trying to figure out how to become unlost in the muss of everyday business, to be purposeful in quiet time; to figure out for the fifty-seventh time how to be me, down to the root. Of course there are distractions - loaned DVD TV series, shopping lists and meal planning. There are good friends, new kitchens, and limited bank accounts. Add to that: monumental thought processes that start at birth and finish...sometime. At the end of it all, whether it be finances or faith that wobbles my course, I'm still left sitting at the table, eyeing the boxes, narrating my life. Not much has changed about me even though much has changed around me, and I feel at peace about it. I'm starting to wonder if I should be as insistent on changing myself as I have been. Or if, like my good friend, I should spend more time here, settled in my heart: home.

Or am I the only one addicted to renewal? What is it about a switch in habit that makes us feel good about ourselves? What is it about the receipt tally that makes us feel like we've accomplished something? We could make all the cakes, buy all the cute teal frying pans and organize a world's worth of living spaces, but this alone won't fill it. Whatever 'it' is; that hole that propels us forward, each in our own way. I know a girl that lives to be complimented, though I'm not sure even she realizes this is true. I know another someone who has good eyes until a mirror comes into view. Whatever the vice, I certainly wish we each - as uniquely as we shape our hesitations - could stop living as if the holes were... it.

I am still learning how and where to set boundaries, and I have (as we all do) a list of experiences to help me draw those lines. But I know something now that I'm not sure I really knew a month ago: I am not my drawn-line slip-ups or busted fences; nor am I my cluttered mind, unpacked boxes, or perpetual list of to-do's. No, I am not each of those things; I am all of them at once, and I'm the good things too. Maybe the world will change, or my house will change, or my certainty of wealth or status-quo-perfectitude will change, but whatever comes I can be sure I'll make it through; because I am me, right down to the root.



Mama said...

The most important thing I learned at the Women's Retreat I was at is the extreme difference between how God sees us and how we see ourselves. They are polar opposites, at least for me. All I could see was my pile of past mistakes and regrets and that's how I saw myself, nothing else. That weekend was a revelation for me. The old thoughts are still battling towards the front but at least now I recognize it and that part is more short-lived. God loves you and sees you as "fearfully and wonderfully made." It's one thing to know that as I have for decades, it's quite another to see it. The boxes don't matter. Just work through them bit by bit and enjoy.

alisha said...

This is SO good, Ash. I have a hundred thoughts swirling around in my head. We need to go for coffee!!

anita said...


Natalie said...

Who decided you needed 'fixing' anyway? I say forget about it. Just be you, because YOU are fabulous!

Mama said...

Listen to Natalie.

Colleen Taylor said...

None of these things and all of them at the same time. So true. Sometimes, after a shift (like, most recently for me, getting married and becoming a step-mom) I fear losing my essential self (whatever that is). Then I realize that (a) these things right here are who I am now -- though there is truth to the advice for moms to take care of themselves first, like passengers in a crashing plane, and (b) my self is given, not made -- given by God, and (c) this world is not my true home, so my brokenness and longings will never be fixed and fulfilled until heaven.

I am made right by the rightness of Christ. "Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee." - Augustine

Bless your journey, Ashley.