It’s easy for me to think I’m backwards sometimes.
I woke up at 6:12 this morning. Without an alarm. 6:12 AM is my GET-OUT-OF-BED-NOW-OR-YOU-WILL-BE-LATE-TO-WORK-AND-NOT-SHOWERED moment; the point from which there is no return to hygiene or punctuality. But I have no work this morning. Christmas break started at 3:15 PM yesterday. My Darth Vadar alarm was completely silent, the back-up alarm on my phone resting peacefully on the windowsill where I left it charging overnight.
I had decided the night before that I was going to sleep in, to enjoy the benefit of a few days of hard won freedom. But it was not to be so (even thought out of spite I chose to stay in bed until almost 8). This seems to be something that keeps coming up in my life lately: the more I try to do something, the less it happens.
The more I tell myself “today I will not get frustrated with my students” the easier I lose my temper over what turns out to be rather insignificant transgressions. The more I tell myself “I will STOP complaining about everyone around me and how they are so wrong for not doing things the way I would do them” the more examples of not-me incompetence present themselves to my judgement. The more determined I am to skip dessert the quicker the box of cookies disappears. The laundry pile only grows as underwear becomes less plentiful. It is as if I say “I will do this” then the opposite happens.
This used to be the prominent feature of my life. I would sort-of wake up, either hung-over or in some cases still drunk, and say with all the conviction one can have when unable to life one’s own head the I would never ever drink that much again. I would berate myself for the “last beer:” the drink I happened to be consuming when my body finally gave up and I either puked or passed out. It’s such an easy thing to tell yourself: “If I had just stopped before that last beer I wouldn’t feel so awful today.” As if the dozen beers beforehand had NOTHING to do with the situation. And as night approached all my resolution of the mid-morning would fade, because of course this time I would refuse the “last beer.” I wasn’t going to drink as much as I had the night before, I was just having one or two while hanging out with friends. Unsurprisingly, it was never just one or two, and the whole thing repeated the next day.
Happily, thanks to God’s intervention, AA, friends, and hard work, I haven’t gone through this depressing little ritual with alcohol in over a year.
But, if I am saying to myself that a certain thing will happen and the opposite occurs, this should tell me that something isn’t in right order in my life. I’m thinking that this has something to do with my receptivity.
A week and a half ago I went to a reflection night at my church. Fr. Jedi (that is what I call him because he ALWAYS knows what you’re thinking) gave a talk about the ability to receive. He was, as is his way, very straightforward, simply stating that “as women you have lost the capacity to receive.” I sat bolt upright. “What, how dare you say that! You be the one fielding complaints all day from unendingly dependent 8-year-olds and then come back to an apartment strewn with paper and shoes and then try and prepare for it all over again the next day and see just how much more in this world you think you can RECEIVE!” Or so I said in my head. Luckily I (mentally) piped down long enough to hear the follow up:
“How can you give Christ’s love if you do not first receive it?”
I had no comeback for that. Okay, in all honesty, my early comeback was pretty weak since I was (mentally) directing it at a priest. And so I sat, and listened, and thought. And I kept thinking. And the more I thought the more the concept of reception reared it’s ugly head. On Sunday my yoga teacher started off by saying “we are going to work today on our openness, our capacity to receive the world.” I wanted to scream, because I swear Little Miss Yogi and Fr. Jedi are totally in cohoots, they always end up reinforcing each other. But I couldn’t very well jump up and say “no, I will not, I refuse to work on receiving.” So I spent the hour laying on the ground, forcing myself not to cover my torso with my arms. And I really did have to force myself. By that evening when I attended Mass I almost burst into tears that I have become incapable of taking communion on my tongue. I received on the tongue every week from the age of 8 until 18 (my home parish doesn’t allow anything else) and now I CAN’T stop myself from lifting up my hands and putting myself between the priest and Christ.
As happens when a certain concept gets pointed out to you, not only are you more preceptive to it’s existence, you are more attuned to your own reactions. And over the last week and half every time I see where receiving is part of my life I immediately reject it. My answer is to cross my arms over my body, to close my mouth, to pretend I don’t hear, to remove myself from the situation.
So I guess I have to open myself to being open. Fuckballs.
I’m not entirely sure out it works out that because I am walling myself up that the opposite of what I say I’m going to do is what ends up happening. (Funny enough, I don’t have it all figured out yet.) But I would be seriously stupid to say that the disordered portion of my life has nothing to do with the disordered outcomes I’m experiencing. But I’m going to try something. I’m going home to Portland tomorrow to spend the week with my family. While I am physically distant from the perpetual stresses of my life (which is mostly my work) I am also going to try taking some time apart from demanding “this is how I shall be today damn it!” Not to say abandoning personal improvement, but rather admitting that how I’m doing things isn’t working. I’m going to try to be quiet, to be open, to receive Christ’s love.
It’ll be Good Friday soon enough, I think I’m going to try and let it be Christmas when it actually is Christmas.
(1 Year, 3 Months, and 1 Days Sober)