Community is Difficult

Sometimes I think I’m too fickle for church or community or whatever. But I know that’s not really true. I think the struggle I have with community involves the need to form deep, personal relationships with those I commune with. I want to be best friends…okay, not really. But I do like talking regularly. And by talking, I mean texting, because phones are for people who don’t mind awkward pauses and anxiety-ridden, unedited comments. I want more than a once a week “hi, how are you?” Because seriously, who actually asks that with genuine interest anymore? No one really wants the answer. They would rather check Facebook on their phones and avoid eye contact. (#Guilty)

I recently started participating in a new “church” community. I say “church” because it’s more a group of people who sit around, sometimes sing, talk about God or Jesus or life, and drink beer. And talk about all the beer and how wondrous it is. Unless, of course, it’s Michelob or Bud Light. That’s not beer. It’s an insult to beer. And your liver. I digress. This church has been really beautiful and helpful as I recover from previous-church trauma. But in the last few weeks, my interest in it has waned. (And I’m about to dish out a whole lot of selfishness…so just bear with me and understand that in writing this, I’m also processing how I feel…word by word.)

A few weeks ago, one of the “leaders” approached me that a new girl was going to attend “church” and the leader thought I would get along with this girl because of similar interests observed online. No big deal, right? Sunday rolled around and New Girl showed up as promised. As it turns out, this girl is so hot it makes my soul hurt. And my jealousy rage. And even more ironically, she and my husband have a mutual connection. Dagger meet heart. On that fateful Sunday, I sat around and watched as everyone was enthralled by her. Only a few months prior, I was sort of the new toy and everyone wanted to talk to me and get to know me…I felt like I was finally forming relationships I’d longed for for years. And then it just dropped off…almost entirely. And now, everywhere I look online, they are doting on Hot Girl. She’s the new toy. (And seriously, this girl is great, she’s par for the course. She has good taste in music and people.) I think her entire presence sort of reinforced the fact that I’ve been wanting to (and trying to) make deeper connections with this group and it just hasn’t happened. The four leaders of the church have been friends for years and they possess a bond that I share with other close friends. These bonds are almost impenetrable, I get it. And I’m not asking to be their new best friend or even be #3 on their speed dial (do we even do speed dial anymore?), I just want more of a connection…otherwise, it’s going to be really easy for me to stay at home. Sleeping in on Sundays is like a morphine addiction. Fucking amazing.

I feel wretched for even having these thoughts. It’s not the church’s fault…because I haven’t openly said (until now), “I need more.” Because everyone has busy schedules, lives, and obligations and I don’t want to be another item on their to-do list…especially if they don’t feel the desire to reciprocate a friendship. In all of my previous communities, I was able to make a steady connection…build a friendship with someone where I felt like I could invest. And it’s astounding that I’m even considering seeking MORE from these people…cause church is fucking difficult (see previous posts). Community is difficult. Perhaps the church members sense my distrust and that’s why they hold back…they don’t want to overwhelm me. I’m not sure. And I don’t want them to read this and feel bad, like they’ve let me down or something.

I didn’t realize how much I needed that connection to stay invested. Before, the relationships just happened and they occurred organically and sometimes hastily after I got involved. I’ve been so damn lonely…for a very long time, lacking that intimacy of a good friendship. I have best friends and they live hundreds of miles away. I don’t have people to visit during the week or converse with after a long day (other than my husband). I don’t have anyone present, tangible, that I can access weekly that will hang out with or talk to me. I see online that some church people are hanging out together because that’s what they do and have done for years. Because they’re friends. How does one flat out ask…”Hey, can I come?” without looking like the dorky afterthought? I don’t want to push myself on people. And I’m shit at asking people to do things…but maybe I should try. I can’t expect that they will always seek me out.

It’s the worst possible feeling to need community and be absolutely terrified of it. Because I know the more I invest, the more I risk. But I’m tired of denying the fact that I need people in my life. I don’t need them constantly, I just need to know they’ll be there if I ask. And in turn, I’ll be there for them. That’s what friends are supposed to do.

I’m Never Going to be Like You

I tend to march to the beat of my own drummer. Most of the time. As a child, I was a rule follower…almost to a fault. Terrified of punishment, always seeking approval, wanting to obey for the sake of maintaining order. Teachers loved me because I was a great kiss ass. My parents always knew they could count on me to fall in line and be respectful and responsible. But rule following turned out to be more of a phase of life than a standard to live by.

As an adult, I’ve become a bit more rebellious. I don’t always adhere to authority. And I’m deviating more and more from the “norm.” I admit, there’s a lot of comfort in going with the flow of the majority. Typically, you know where you stand, what you believe, and where you’re going…because you’re likely following the crowd. You have friends to talk about life with…because you can all relate to each other. You’re sharing the experiences. In many ways, when you choose to live differently from the accepted norm, you abandon or lose some of the friendships and relationships you’ve cultivated.

Being atypical is lonely. I spend a lot of time frustrated about the loneliness. I miss being part of the collective.

I’m currently at the end of graduate school. At the conclusion of this adventure in debt acquisition, I’ll have a MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Makes me sound all official, doesn’t it? But truthfully, I could give a shit less. Because I’m not a “clinical mental health counselor.” I don’t fit into their mold or ideology of what a therapist should be. I didn’t fit in the mold before I enrolled. It’s a little humorous when I tell fellow classmates that I really don’t care to be state licensed, endure the national exam, or sit for hours and hours in a tiny room listening to people bitch about their problems. I didn’t start grad school and sacrifice years of employment, socialization, and reading GOOD books to learn how fucked up Freud really was. I wanted to learn how to relate to people better, how to manage ethical dilemmas, and generally how to understand behaviors of people experiencing distress. I’ve spent almost three years being taught how to be a compassionate human. I really could have saved myself the $90,000 loan. But the investment isn’t entirely in vain. If anything, I’ve learned more about who I am and who I want to be. I’ve also learned who I’m NOT.

I’m not society’s version of a therapist. I’m a conversationalist. I dialogue with people. I listen to their stories. And sometimes, I give them strategies for how to journey through life with a little dignity. And when dignity can’t be found, I give them a bat and tell them to break shit until they feel better (as long as they break objects and not people or animals…I’m not THAT delusional).

Ultimately, I think we all want to tell our stories…and more than that, we want to be heard and feel validated. It doesn’t take years and years of reading psychosocial theories to learn how to love people where they are. Or at least it shouldn’t.

I’m never going to be who they think I should be. I’m going to be myself. H…who talks to people in the language they relate to.

Truth is Damaging

We should never meet our heroes.

Yes, I realize it’s a pessimistic way to start a blog post, but who am I trying to impress? I mean, let’s be real. I have trust issues. Deep ones. Heroes, notwithstanding, people can be shitty. Selfish liars, manipulative tools. Douche canoes.

And I don’t know that there’s anyone who I trust implicitly. Not even my husband. And that’s a frightening thing to admit because I love him more than anyone else on this planet. And it’s a terrible thing to admit because I’m sure he would be hurt by my confession…particularly because he’s done so much to prove his trustworthiness over the last four years of our relationship. But it’s just the way I feel…

I wish people were who they should be (honest, compassionate, loving, selfless). I wish they were honest or at least had the decency to not be assholes. And perhaps my greatest fear is that the people I cherish the most are going to hurt me. Truthfully, the only person who has the power to destroy me is my husband because I’ve given him the power to do so. And when I think about that, I want to pull away to protect myself. But I won’t. Because he’s a miracle for my broken heart.

All of this is sort of a preamble to a point that’s honestly still frustrating the hell out of me. I recently found out that some ministerial leaders/emergent authors (people I admired for years) are being abusive, heinous trolls and I don’t understand how the individuals who are aware of this deceit continue to perpetuate a fraud. The depths of the betrayal seem to know no end. I wish I didn’t know…I wish I could erase the knowledge of what these men and women have done because I liked believing the lie. The lie was safe.

The truth is often damaging…before it’s healing.

Perhaps that’s why so few people ever tell the truth. But I really wish they would.

 

“A heart is a fragile thing, that’s why we protect them so vigorously, give them away so rarely, and why it means so much when we do.” –The Little Prince