Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Courage to Change the Things I Can

     I've decided not to be concerned that sometimes my writing wells up from an angry place.
Usually I'm doing something very ordinary; washing dishes, for example. Folding laundry. A sentence fragment winds itself around the hard core of a feeling, a white hot sense of urgency. And so it spins itself into a whole sentence, usually something from the middle of the stack of thoughts. I have to work backwards and forwards to work it into the weft. Intelligently. Usefully. And I worry. Always worry that whatever comes out is too intense, too much like the fevered scribbles in the pages of a journal with a wraparound lock, something I'd write in with a foolish pen, cotton candy pink or with a big plastic daisy on top. He likes me. He doesn't like me. I memorized his schedule so I could pass him in the hall. It is hard to know when your writing stops smelling of rollerball lipgloss and hormone driven urgencies and starts making sense, being real. Or maybe it is all real, and 14 year old real is just as valid as 43 year old real.
What purpose does it serve? I ask that question not with the desperate fear that maybe the answer is "None at all", but because I really don't know. Truly don't. Only that sometimes it is anger and failure and frustration that turns the machine, starts the shower of sparks.
     I am considering the possibility that I am an addict. And I use that word carefully, gingerly, not wanting to grasp the corner of a flag I don't have the right to fly. Being a sugar addict isn't the same as being addicted to something that could kill me outright. Its legal. Hell, its everywhere. And I only use the term in response to the degree to which it is humiliating and frustrating not to have mastery over something that, for most people, isn't even a thing. Isn't even an issue. But when you want something very badly and that want paces your thoughts, talking endlessly, accusing, bargaining, pleading, interrupting your peace, making threats, I think it is fair use. Addiction. Okay.
     I walked that narrow road for a good few months where I kept it away. And didn't miss it. And acknowledged that it was best left elsewhere and not in my house. Then I let it back in through a series of sneaky compromises. And before I knew it, the "When this is gone I'll just...." negotiations started. And hey, something occurred to me.

Changing the things I can is a real bitch.

I think I have paid really close attention to the first part. "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change." because that focuses the whole business on making things okay, dealing with what needs dealt with. Legitimate enterprise. Absolutely necessary. Acceptance seems like something that will eventually happen if you wait the right way. Maybe it will steal over you while you sit around a particularly poignant and introspective campfire. One day you find you have the calluses and muscles necessary to grasp and carry the Things that Cannot Change.

But even if that is true (and I suspect that it is not), that's only a third of the way home. When I ask for 'the courage to change the things I can' the implication is that I intend to make use of that courage and actually change things.


It is the things in this category I'm having to confront right now. A big ol' pile of Things. Behavior I can't engage in. Ways of dealing with stress and frustration and intensity and hurt that don't work and never did. And it seems so stupid that this can be as simple as things I can no longer eat and drink. I am realizing that, for me, there is no 'treat yourself', there is no 'once in a while' with some things. And that has to be okay. Because the only way to stop negotiations with that internal liar, that endless compromise, is to call it out, call it what it is no matter how foolish and humiliating it might be, and deal with it accordingly. The courage to change the things I can.  Not just most of the time', but all the time.

The wisdom to know the difference. Wisdom is a good thing to ask for. Solomon asked for wisdom and as a result, pretty much got everything else he needed. We get it when we ask also. Sometimes there's a little gap between the wisdom and the place we need to land.

I have to believe I can make the jump.