Wednesday, March 26, 2014

on being a chicken shit. under the guise of control.

I'm taking a class this semester which makes me take really honest, uncomfortable looks at my life and myself. I would argue that these are the best kind of classes, even though they are hard and trying emotionally more than academically. Getting my Master's in counseling has been an entire journey in self-discovery, and while I'm extremely grateful, I'm also exhausted. 

But I'm here to write more specifically on this wonderful, albeit at times shaming-inducing and embarrassing class. 

I've always considered myself one of those people who never cries. For me it was a measure of strength, and I think there was even a bit of pride in being the kind of person, perhaps more specifically the kind of woman, that has control over my emotions. But do I really?  When I think about that now, I feel a little silly. Because in truth, I'm a HIGHLY emotional person. I'm one of those people with big, extreme moods and messy expressions of love and pain. I just got so good at putting a hard shell around it, withdrawing, successfully avoiding emotion that I was a sort of robot-person. Really, I wasn't in control, I was just terrified of what would happen if I had feelings, that I buried them. I like to feel safe, emotionally, even though I'm rather reckless in most other aspects of my life. Emotions are messy and unpredictable and powerful. They're raw. I like to appear polished and rational, self-assured. 

There's nothing wrong with being that way, except that I now really believe it's completely contrary to my authentic nature as a human being, as a helper. As a person swollen with empathy. Writing has been the only place in my life that I've let myself go, and even in that, there's a risk. 

And now I'm off-topic again. 

I'm just trying to explain. Tonight in class, the topic was apologies. What makes a good one? What does a bad one look like? Is hearing the words as important as a change in action by the person that did you wrong? So we had this assignment, and it was to come to class with a written apology, one you wished you would have given to someone you wronged or one you wish you would have gotten from someone who wronged you in some way. 

And suspicion crept in as I was thinking about what I was going to write about. I got this sneaking sense that we would all be sharing what we wrote with the class. So I typed out a bullshit apology to a faceless person about abusing the parking system at the university and came to class feeling safe. Last week, I broke down crying when I gave some of my thoughts on suicide, which was the topic that class. It was scary, I felt out of control, not just my voice and my face coloration, but in the slippery slope release can be on such a charged topic.

I've done wrong and I've been wronged. Not more and not less than anyone else, I don't think, but I have tons of actual examples in my life I could have drawn from. I can make a mountain out of almost any mole-hill when I start writing. It's what I do. In order to feel safe in my emotions, I have to explain and dissect them, and I can only do that through writing. It makes me feel more organized, seeing it all there in print. 

The people in my class, and there aren't that many of us, maybe 15, took risks. Almost all of them. And as I heard their stories and watched them struggle and cry and bravely share, I was ashamed of myself. Here I am, one of the few grad students in the class, and I'm in a program that has me talking about feelings for a living, and I can't muster an authentic apology to share with these people who have only ever been supportive?

So it comes to the end of class and I'm the only one who hasn't shared. And my teacher looks at me. And I say to the class, "I'm so embarrassed you guys. I didn't take this assignment as seriously as I wish I would have and now that I've heard all of your stories, I'm ashamed. I'm sorry, you guys. I was scared." And I read it and people laughed and they didn't seem mad at me for not exposing myself like they did. 

But I just felt so, overwhelmingly selfish and shallow and pathetic. 

And so now, I think it's time to do this assignment over. With feeling. 

1 comment:

  1. I love these types of classes, too :)