Gabriel turns Two: Happy Birthday Sweet Boy

Monday, November 06, 2006

How to Love a Wacko

(Sinners Version)

Recently I heard someone preach about how loving people is a priority, and loving people is really hard. Really really hard, because we're all wackos. You're all wackos. I'm a wacko.

Being a wacko means you're different from other people. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try (or they try) you won't get them, and they won't get you either. Being a wacko has cool aspects, like being unique, funky, quirky -- a veritable individual stamped with all the fabulous strangeness God could come up with on the day of your conception, and every day thereafter after. But being a wacko also has drawbacks. Because most of us are screwed up, scarred, angry, afraid and vulnerable -- and all that's there, lurking under the surface even when everything's swimming and people are smiling and life seems good over coffee with a friend or a nice response to your blog, or the smell of children sleeping peacefully.

Most of us are time bombs, just waiting to go off when a wacko comes along and has the audacity to press the really horrid irksome buttons one too many times in just such a way that the button being pressed activates certain nerves around the nipple, sending us into a storm of undignified rage or angst, pity party or a fuck-the-world cynical funk. Once in a while the wacko is just some slick-haired dude practically trying to kill the world with his sports car while the base amps beat like club armageddon. But what really brings out the destructive, evil impulse in our souls is when the wacko is our sister or brother, mom or dad, best friend or the special person who is supposed to faithfully share your bed and kitchen til death do you part.

Right now, my mom is the Judas of my heart, with my father in the background with his eyes bulging uncontrollably from his mad bald head.

There are times when we feel totally screwed, hemmed in on every side by bad options, and the ultimate choice ism annoyingly enough, simply to hate or love. Sometimes it's possible to do both at one time, but sooner or later grace or condemnation wins, by the slightest tip of the balance, like a plate falling off a waiter's noggin.

Right now the plate is on my head, piled high with much-too-greasy portions of wounded hate for my mother, (and my father two, though it's more a cold, sinister numbness, like quiet, mostly resigned hate) and on the other side of the plate, in a small, humble pile is something resembling a cross between mashed potatoes and compassion and the serenity prayer written in my rice.

Recently I took a risk, putting my heart on the line with my mom, when I knew she might easily ravage it and destroy the last remnants of my ability feel happy and comfortable with her -- to genuinely open up myself to her and hope with a degree of faith to receive a love that doesn't hurt. Oh my mom wanted to be there for me, but just like always, she just fucking couldn't. She always tries, and in the things that matter to me, she can't come through. Just doesn't, can't...what can I say? What can she say? She just couldn't do it. And it's worse because I know she loves me, yet always with a love that hurts me. And what's even worse than that is my behavior.

In desperate pain, I have embodied cold hatred and ravaged soul these last few days, and I'm so sorry, because I know I've hurt my mom, and I know part of me wanted to, wanted to use my feelings to punish her for doing this to me. And I'm embarrassed when it comes to my mom, I'm still acting like a kid -- seeking to be loved, when it's time to grow up and seek first to love rather to be loved. And yet, why should I have to be the grownup with my mother? Why do I always have to be the mature one, accepting her even I pay the price for her sins? She was supposed to take care of ME, and love me and teach me to trust. But no.

Yes, our most fearsome enemies are probably always going to be the people we love who let us down when we need them. And only through Jesus, with a little help from the eight-fold path of buddhism (ala, "life is suffering -- it'll suck less if you accept it") can we redefine our true need and realize somehow it's possible to find life beyond our injuries of crushed expectations and love that hurts.

I've asked God to forgive and help me, knowing it would take a miracle, because the sickening grease of betrayal and unmet needs, helplessness and hate runs so deep and long, like a twisted river from the garden of hell. And I don't know which way this one will go, because I'm just another wacko, and I find this burden too much to bear. So I just wait, fluctating between love and hate, hoping soon Jesus will show up and be yoked to me and show me a way of carrying this burden that would make it easy and light, more like a privelege than a punishment for someone else's goddamn sins.

Who will win, hate or love? I'm praying love but I know I'm not strong enough to overcome hate's pull on my own -- it's too stong, the wounds too deep to resist. I don't have much confidence in my ability to love a wacko so painfully close to my angry, bleeding heart. Yet somewhere in my hate is the truth that I love enough to hate, and maybe under all that hate, God can dig up the love and replant it in a different, gentler garden, with stakes to help it grow properly, and fertilizer and a tender hand to water the dry places, with lots of sunshine to make up for the dark cold of winter. And maybe someday Spring will come in the Narnia of my heart. And I will love again, for the first time with the grownup love of God. This is my desperate prayer. Amen.


ktismatics said...

Why is it that your parents don't quite remind me of Marge and Homer Simpson? Sometimes I wonder whether most of the people in the world aren't fully human. It's like they're representatives of some related but inferior species, or perhaps they're undead simulacra of humans. It'd be less confusing if they looked like trees walking, but they look and sound so real. Scary...

Jemila Monroe said...

Heh...BTW, that post is NOT part of my book ;)

Yes it would be some much easier if they looked like trees walking, or like Java the Hut, or just if they were all, all bad. Consistentcy -- what a magic word that exists so rarely! It's so much easier to demonize people and write them off than wrestle with the immense pain and confusion of an actual complicated, wacko-genuinely human being who, despite repeated failure at great cost -- is actually doing their best. When someone's best is not good enough -- what do we do? When is it time to change our expectations and when is it time to throw in the towel, wish them well and move on? I've noticed that I don't hate people who are not actively hurting me in the present tense...

ktismatics said...

I agree -- it's those glimmmers of possibility that throw you off, give you some hope that the other person actually has something else that you could nurture into full blossom. Sometimes I wonder whether people can simulate some good version of themeselves without there being any reality at all behind it. Too often hope just seems like the prelude to rage and depression...

Jemila Monroe said...

Yo. So what does it mean to be a Christian in these situations? I personally have no clue when I am supposed to carry my cross and when it's time to shake off the dust and save my pearsl for those who can hold them rightly, so alternate between the approaches and this really lends itself to feelings of futility when the cycle parades on, with no real signs of abating. "the only thing I can change is me." So true. Wise. Essential. Easier said than done. Is the cup I am drinking God's will or a self-imposed poison? How do I know? Lord help me, day by day.

Anonymous said...

Jemila, In response to asking how to be Christian in this situation, I would say that you need to look out for #1 first - build on the pyramids of God, immediate family, and then extended family. Pray that your Mom will be able to accept the boundaries you vitally need and pray for the strength to maintain them while asking for healing from the process, which must be causing you a ton of grief. I for one will be praying for you.

Deep_Well said...

I too have wondered at how people can "simulate some good version of themeselves without there being any reality at all behind it." I have learned that when this becomes the pattern, hope deffered truly does make the heart sick. I don't know when to stop hoping and face reality. My guess is that every situation is different. What I have learned, though, is that if I do not at least respond in the situation as though I am a valuable person worthy of respect, it is my heart that gets trampled. We are God's most precious creation, and I know it grieves Him when we allow ourselves to be treated in this way. I'm still learning how to set healthy boundaries, and it is most difficult with family, but I now know that taking care of myself is often the most loving and Christian thing that I can do for myself as well as the person/s I am in relationship with. The scary part is the fact that I too tend simulate some good version of myself to myself, because I am still learning how to love myself unconditionally. I love your ability to be real about your hatred toward your mother. Sure, I hope that love wins out, too, but if there wasn't a battle between love and hate, you would just be living in your own denial. And all that we attempt to deny will come back to bite us eventually. So, "fight the good fight" and continue to remain honest with yourself regardless of the outcome.