Monday, February 25, 2013

A Lenten Interior Housecleaning

Today, seemingly out of the blue, from the deep recesses of my mind came the name of one poem and the first few lines of yet another.  I used to keep a notebook of poems and sayings when I was young. It was part of my apparent “dual personality”, for in addition to this deeper and more serious notebook, I kept diaries of my other side, having to do with the messy business of keeping relationships with family and friends, the significant others in my life. This often included those that I had no real relationship with, but rather secret crushes on, or what I used to call, pedestal friends.

Once I even stuck a piece of chewed gum wrapped in waxed paper into my diary.  It had been given to me by one of my heart throbs. Perhaps I was hoping that our superficial friendship would be forever cemented in the recesses of my diary, marking the beginning of a wonderful and forever romance.  Many of my early diaries were so embarrassingly frivolous that I threw them out, not knowing that teenage diaries are records of such drivel.  Now of course I cannot remember the name of this gum-giving beau, and even if I still had this diary to refer to, I would likely scratch my head and not be able to recall his face.  It would be like reading about someone else’s life and not my own.

So, why is it strange that into my head should pop memories of these favorite poems from my past right now?  Perhaps,I am not really all that different than I was years ago? I still sometimes fret over relationships, only now they are largely over friendships with other women. Could they be as frivolous and immature as my diary entries of years ago? I think so. I am not always a good judge of character and consider some as friends that really aren't. I have recently worked to reconcile a recent misunderstanding with such a "friend" and found instead the harsh reality that she doesn't see the point and would prefer not to associate with me. I feel like a young school girl coming home to cry to my mother about someone at school not wanting to be my friend.

I laid in bed last night re-examining what I said and what she said and how it all broke down. I felt truly sad about the loss of this "friend" and wondered how I had so offended her. I have been told that my over transparency and compulsion to be frank and honest might well be a symptom of my illness that truly affects my brain. My daughter, has more than once let me know that she often sees that I don't have a proper filter when it comes to my tongue.

This friend has my same condition and we have often laughed about this common tendency.  However, as I remembered the fateful conversation from which there seemed to be no recovery, I really had no malicious intent to offend her. I know that my friend is not comfortable with political talk, and my comments regarding my husband's job loss were simply open statements about the economic times that we are living in and that I truly feel that companies of today are burdened by some of the added regulations, creating more lay-offs.  I watch the news, likely too often, and it is no secret that unemployment is high and we are now experiencing it first hand.

My friend does not share my political beliefs, though in that conversation we had little agreement on other issues as well, and she grew more and more upset. I wasn't feeling the support that my friend had openly offered and I decided I had accidentally pushed a button.  She was recalling her family's own decline by such a lay-off and was suggesting that we would also feel this decline.  I don't like to borrow trouble and this certainly wasn't helping me stay positive about our current challenges.  The truth was, her fears were my own, but I was actively choosing to live in faith and not fear and so I let her know. I abruptly ended the conversation, apologizing about having to take a call from my daughter.  I was relieved to do just that.

I don't think that friendship should dissolve by mere differences of opinions though I have learned over the years that some relationships will go by the wayside for reasons that I don't totally understand. I have tried to cultivate sensitivity and tact but sometimes it seems, to no avail. My true self speaks loud and clear, especially about values I hold most dear and what comes out is sometimes not acceptable to another.  I  don't really regret being who and what I am, though it pains me to think that I have offended someone.

Perhaps the fault is not all mine and may in fact, merely be a turning point in a relationship that was supposed to happen? Perhaps this was just an unexpected Lenten interior housecleaning. It seems I am not supposed to be a friend to some. I am a strong person, with strong opinions and am open about expressing them.  Not all appreciate such honesty, and don't feel so comfortable about conflicting views.

So about these poems that spontaneously popped into my mind...I don't believe they were simply serendipitous, but rather a lovely insight into my inner self, like God holding up a mirror and encouraging me to see my own reflection. After looking them up, one, by its name and the other by its first line, I see me in them. One is about what we used to call, "fair weather friends” and the other about standing strong with your convictions. I found myself comforted by them, for they are each strong poems and reflect my values. I realized that I have turned into that person that I wanted to be: courageous enough to be who I am, no matter the cost. but there's the rub.  I also like to be well-liked and can't always have it both ways. As my dad used to say about me, “I want my cake and eat it to”. Indeed I do, though Miss Congeniality I am not,nor is peace so easily won!

Since copying the poems below into my special notebook years ago, I received a forward with the following saying, “There comes a point in our life when you realize: Who matters, Who never did, Who won’t anymore…And who always will.  So don’t worry about the people from your past, there’s a reason why they didn’t make it to your future.” “ Amen” I say. Sometimes God assists me in cleaning out my interior  house and likely it is a good thing, though I still find it a painful process!

Invictus by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.

Solitude by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow it’s mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air.
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you’
Grieve, and they turn and go.
They want full measure of all your pleasure.
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many’
Be sad, and you lose them all.
There are none to decline our nectared wine.
But alone, you must drink life’s gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live.
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.