Well, once again I wrote a whole blog entry and realized it really wasn’t what I wanted to say at all so I got to start almost from scratch. Gosh, this is fun. Why am I doing this to myself again? I mean, it seemed like such a good idea and I feel very strongly about continuing to do it for… some reason. Oh well. Onward and upward. Now. As I was saying.
What I was going to write about (and still am) is that most of my stories are not happy stories. I have a lot of frustration with the whole “pain olympics” idea, where we all compete to see who has the worst horror stories, the worst things that have happened to you but if I’m honest with myself I still do that. There’s this feeling that if my stories aren’t bad enough then my problems won’t be taken seriously or won’t deserve to be taken seriously. That’s part of it. Part of it is something else, which is the honest truth that I just don’t remember a lot of good stories. Now this is the part in the first draft of this where I went off into doing exactly what I just talked about and started at least hinting at bad stories. Which is the opposite of the whole point I was trying to make. My point is honestly that I want more good stories and I wonder why I don’t have more of them.
I will say that I do think most of my growing up was very intensely focused on survival. My memory is very, very spotty and what I do remember tends to not be good. I think what I usually remembered were the things that left scars. But here’s the thing. I’m all grown up now (for as much as I believe in such a concept) and I did it! I mean, really, I survived. I made it through and I have this rather remarkable opportunity to make a life for myself. Except that there are pretty major parts of my brain that still don’t recognize this. I think I’m still trying to survive instead of live my life and that means I still hold on to a lot of bad stories.
That’s not actually who I want to be. I’m not an unhappy person, honestly I’m not. Right now I am in many, many ways happier than I have ever been in my life. School is stressful but I’m working on what I want to do. Relationships have taken some turns I would never have seen coming (more on that in an upcoming post I imagine) but I am deliriously happy with it. I have really, really amazing friends. I have people who love me and who I love very much. This is not the life I expected to have but it is honestly much better. Looking at that, the stories I want to keep closest are not the sad ones. Which isn’t to say that hard stuff doesn’t happen. I tend to be a person who takes difficult things and wants to drag them out and pull them apart and find out what I can learn from all of the pieces so that they don’t go to waste. I think that can be an okay trait but I also think I need to balance it. Most of my happy stories are really small things. They tend to just be little things that happen to me day to day that remind me that I have a totally different outlook on people than I used to and that I actually love my life and love people, in spite of some of the really dark things that can and do happen. Often they’re so small that I don’t tell them or I tell them but immediately forget. I think perhaps that’s the wrong approach. Maybe I should make a point to mention them.
See, until this year, I had a general idea that people were always going to be out to get me. It was a very abuse victim type of mentality and I probably would not have verbalized it most of the time but it was what I believed. It was a combination of abuse things and also the general Christian teachings that all people are by nature evil, that at their core everyone is selfish and evil and that is our basic tendency all the time. This is a bitch of a combination and it seemed reasonable to really believe I needed to be on guard all of the time. And then this year I had an epiphany. I mean, really, it was one of several that changed my whole life. I realized that there were an amazing number of very, very kind people in this world. Kind in small ways, kind in big ways. I realized I could choose to have them in my life, that I could be friends with those people. I realized I could choose that life. It totally changed everything. I seriously cried 3 times the day I realized it. I am like a goldfish with this information though. Like I realize it again every couple of weeks to a month and I get overwhelmed all over again. As far as things to be surprised by constantly it is sort-of the best thing.
Here are several things that have happened this week, in varying degrees of silliness.
1) I was driving around looking for a parking spot at school and a girl saw me and motioned me over so that I could get her spot, which was a very good spot, incidentally.
2) One of my classmates who has been in recovery a number of years got some bad news and came to class clearly intoxicated. This doesn’t sound like a happy story but watching the way that my other classmates (specifically those in recovery themselves) gathered around her to talk to her and to make sure she got to the next meeting and to care about her and reach out. No one was judging, no one was upset, everyone was just concerned. It was actually really beautiful.
3) I was outside smoking and shivering because I am waiting for my coat to be mailed back from Chicago (I left it there by accident while visiting last spring) and 2 of my classmates offered to give me coats. Not like loan me coats, give me a coat. They were so concerned that I didn’t have a coat and wouldn’t have one for a week or more, they were tripping over themselves offering to find me one.
4) On Saturday at the theater, a total stranger told me that I looked adorable in my outfit. Which was such a dumb thing but I have not been feeling very cute lately and it completely made my day. Who knew that total strangers would just tell you such a nice thing for no reason?
There are seriously so many others, these happened just within the past week. There’s something remarkable to me about tiny acts of kindness. I never saw them before, I didn’t realize how many of them there were or how often people are willing to offer them. The water we swim in has a lot of terrible things but it has a lot of really wonderful things too. So I’m going to try to take note of the wonderful ones. They’re not always great stories, more often they’re just tiny things but I think overall they add up to something kind-of beautiful. So I’m going to start sharing them periodically and be a stupidly optimistic girl about the fate of humanity, in spite of everything. I know it seems naive but I think maybe it’s what combats all the rest.