This week, I asked you to simply choose to feel/be/do what you want to feel/be/do. I asked this very selfishly, actually. Since I can’t be as normal as the world would like, I’m trying to get the world to be as crazy as I am. And I know you bitches can really bring the crazy!

4 years ago, if you told me you were sad, I would have listed out 10 reasons why you should be happy. If you were anxious I probably would have given you some baked goods and herbal tea mixes to fix you back up to an outward level of calm. If you were stressed I would have pointed out the reasons why you shouldn’t be. If none of those things worked then I probably would have distanced myself and labeled you a little unbalanced. I see now I was kind of an asshole.

I don’t know if this is a common thing or not. That’s the trippy thing about leaving a religion of origin and all the friendships entangled in it. While I was in a religion surrounded by other people in the same religion, then my state of emotion was directly linked to my state of spirituality. Happy = choosing the right. Sad = choosing the wrong. Therefor, any emotions that fell outside of the normal happy/joyful/pleased range was not only an indication of distress but also of sinning in some way. Sad? Be better. Think better. Act better.

When things started falling apart for me I knew how unhappy I was and so was hard at work trying to counterbalance it with “being better”. I was at the pinnacle of being as good of a person as I humanely could be. Not that I turned into a glowing angel with wings and a bejeweled sash..not at all. But I was really trying for it. And still it wasn’t enough. I looked around at all my friends and let my cracks show. “I am so unhappy with my marriage/life/existence! Is it normal? What more can I do?!” and the answer came rolling in. It was basically the same answer from lots of different sources.

“Why do you think I’m so involved in Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts/PTA/baking/crafting/scrapbooking? It gives me something to take my mind off all that. Plus, what do you really have to be sad about? Be grateful for what you have instead of wishing for what you don’t.”

Like the powder keg of old cowboy stories, I sat and sat and sat until the spark of flame finally reached me from the long snaking fuse. It maybe was a slow burn after the fuse was lit, but once it reached me I exploded. One minute a wooden frame holding an inert chemical mix of powders…the next a conflagration that torched everything.

Lots of people have changed religions, moved houses, and ended marriages. I’m one in a long line in that regard. But few have done it with such verve and within such a short amount of time, methinks. What it took me 36 years to build, only took a year to undo completely.

I was left in a wrecked state. You can imagine. Or maybe you can’t. Either way, I couldn’t even pretend to appear “put together”. You know what saved me?

Other than whiskey and martinis, that is…

What saved me was friends who encouraged me to just be me in whatever form and whatever state.

Friends that I could call and say, “I’m so angry!” and would not reply with a douchey “what do you really have to be angry about when so many people have it so much worse?!” No, no. These new friends of mine wouldn’t even ask to hear the reason why before exclaiming, “Who do I need to punch in the face?”

Friends that I could collapse in a sobbing heap literally on their lap and say, “I’m so sad!” and they would stroke my hair (or, my head, after I shaved my hair off) and say…well, nothing actually. They would just let me sob on their laps and snot in their hair and slobber on their t-shirt and not ask me to get off and compose myself.

Friends I could call from inside a closet and admit that I was feeling overwhelmed and hiding from life and they would ask me what closet I was in and then arrive with a bottle of wine and sit in the closet with me until we both wanted a more comfy place to have a breakdown.

Before, my friends would harass me if I wasn’t pretending to hide my emotions good enough. Now, my friends harass me if I start pretending anything at all.

I am grateful for them. Chances are if you’re reading this and you know me in person then you are one of them. If you’re reading this and you don’t know me, then I hope you at least have a handful of friends like them in your life. If you don’t, then let me welcome you into the group of Unconditionally Supportive Badasses. Be who you are. We have your back! Choose it. Own it. Be it.

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10 Comments

  1. Linda /

    I love you!

  2. B. Andrew /

    Interesting. Go get ‘em.

  3. Helen /

    I liked you then…. and I like you now. I really like your blog.

  4. ahhh…what was that catalyst? what was it that shook you to the core? how did you find friends like that? i listen to what others say about others. and know, that if i said, “Oh my God, what the hell am I doing? What the hell are we doing?” they might just look at me and say exactly, “Count your blessings, it could be worse” meaning, don’t tell me that cause then i you might think i am doing something wrong if you think what you are doing is wrong. i stood in target the other day listening to the noise of shopping. it was loud. it was saturday. and i couldn’t figure out what the hell i was doing there. amongst it. part of it. something is off.

    ;)

  5. So, so very deeply true!
    Love your work. If you ever come out to Australia, I’ll have your back!

  6. You know, I can’t imagine telling a friend to be happy when she is despondent. Unless I was being greatly sarcastic as I poured another glass of red. Sometimes life just sucks and no amount of “turn that frown upside down” will change that.

    • Linda /

      It goes with the mind-fuckery of religion, Jen. If you’re not happy, then you’re not : you should pray more, worship more, serve more, go to church more, etc. It’s a real mindfuck, it is. You are NEVER accepted for who you are, where you are. You should always being something more or different. That’s the main reason I left my religion. Once I was free of all that baggage, I was SO MUCH HAPPIER–despite all the bs about being “free in Christ.” From here on out, I’m with Billy Joel: “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints. The sinners are much more fun.” :-)

      • Linda /

        Ha ha! I used a phrase inside “” and it didn’t show up. What it should have read was: If you’re not happy, then you’re not “.”