Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Charles Atlas Has Nothing on Me....

I always thought of myself as utterly weak: weak spirited, weak attitude, weak in will. Scared of what people thought of me; terrified if they were right. My confidence was non-existent, my fears overwhelming, my attitude always dipped to the negative side.

I now beg to differ with those old thoughts.

Difficult times made me want to crumble. Nasty people made me cry and question myself. I swam in an ocean of self-pity, always looking for someone to throw me a rope to drag me to safety before I drowned. Come to think of it, it's possible that that dependence on others was my biggest weakness, my hugest downfall. It's also possible that it also set the tone for how I felt about myself.

It never occurred to me that there was one person that I should have looked to for saving me: yeah, that's right - the one, the only....me.

There had to come a point in my life that I realized, hey, this is my life, not any of the assholes who came and went, who belittled me or betrayed me; not those who took advantage of my kindness or caring; not my family's; not anyone's: it's mine.

And that point has come now, even if midway through.

I'm a terrific thinker, even if I do over-think at times. But I toss everything around in my head until I either a) find an answer, b) get tired of hearing my own voice in my head (which is usually what happens), or c) until I make a discovery. I'm going with "b" and "c" and I'm good with that.

I've discovered through all my thinking that throughout my life, I never acted or reacted to things in a healthy way; a mentally healthy way. What, really, was or is the point of self-pity? It does weaken you and it holds you back. I'm sure the lack of self-understanding as a kid and immaturity as a young adult lent a hand in that, but there's only so long a person can use that as an excuse, say into your early twenties. As I started experiencing more and more painful things, as life got a little tougher, I still threw out that stupid fucking water-logged rope, wanting to be pulled into safer territory; a place where someone was waiting with potential answers to my life's questions and problems. I always wanted to put my life into someone else's hands. Shit, I allowed other people's opinions of me to shape who I thought I was, so... why not let them save me and be mental muscle, too?

Still though, when I think into the past, no matter how much I listened, how hard I tried, how much I wanted resolutions, nothing stuck. And I never understood why - until now. When it comes down to it, nobody but me can fix anything that's meant for me to fix. If a person can't fit into my size eights, how can I expect them to walk for me? No matter how many times my friends or family have tried to pick me up when I started to fall down, when they had to let go and back away, the only way I could stand on my own was by tying my laces tightly and finding my own strength. Nobody can hold me up, throw me a rope, or convince me of anything unless I'm willing to believe in myself and believe I can do it. Even if I wobble around, if I remain upright on my own two feet, hey, that's better than falling into a heap any day. The point is, it's ultimately my decision to stand or fall, laugh or cry, to try hard or wave the white flag, to sink or swim. And come to think of it, I don't think I ever really did crumble or drown. Obviously, I'm still here. So, it's possible that I always had the fins but was too afraid I wasn't a strong enough swimmer. Kind of like Nemo.

I've somehow made it this far in my not-by-any-means-horrible-life but through a life of self-doubt and uncertainty. I don't think I could have if I didn't have strength of some sort. And I sit and think about this all the time: where did it come from? Was it always there? If so, why didn't I use it? And then I think, well... maybe it had to be built up and stored for a time when it was needed the most. Maybe I needed to be weak in order to gain strength. Maybe I had to hop over piles of dog shit in order to find that clean spot of grass. Maybe the first part of my life was a pop quiz where I had to get half (or all) the answers wrong so that during the second part of my life when I have to take the real test, I'll be better prepared with better answers. Maybe I needed to walk a certain path in order to find the me that I'm meant to be. Maybe, just maybe, finding and embracing who I am is truly the key to strength - period.

And I think I've found her. Shit, I think I'm embracing the hell out of her, too. She's not half bad.

For all my mistakes, past and present, I'm becoming more and more okay with them as time goes on. I realize that I have to be. I know all my experiences made me who I am and because of that, I finally know what makes me tick, what makes me laugh, what's worth crying over. I know what my capabilities are, what's important, and the kind of people I want and need in my life and the kind of people I don't. I know when to care, when to not care, and when to be indifferent. I know that I still err in judgment at times, but I understand that it's okay because I'm human. And I know that sometimes you can control things and other times you can't and when you can't, then the only thing you can do is cross your fingers and hope for the best or hope that things will be what they're supposed to be. I realize life is difficult but it's up to me to make the best of it and to live it. And sometimes, you just gotta fucking roll with it and right now, I'm rollin'.

Finally, I can listen to other people's opinions, take them in, and decide whether I agree or not. It's no longer crucial for me to have everyone's approval. I no longer feel completely dependent on other people to make my choices for me. I finally feel like I can jump in an ocean and swim, even if sometimes it's just doing the doggie-paddle. I've put my weathered rope away because I want to swim as far as I can across the ocean on my own, riding the waves and drifting when it's calm.

I guess I can thank God that I've known weakness, otherwise I'd have never recognized my strengths.


  1. As the good witch of OZ said,you've always had a heart,a brain & courage.It's been there all along.you just had to know it.

  2. You always struck me as a tough kid. I think I was actually afraid of you that first time I met you in youth group at Temple Israel. You weren't mean really....just ... strong. I was kind of intimidated maybe, so I think you had it in you from an early age. Strength that is. And at that age (I think we were 7-8-9?) it's difficult to define the difference between strength and weakness. People say that bullies are that way out of weakness or fear (no you weren't a bully). Class clowns clown around as a defense. But it takes some humanity and will to create these mechanisms at an early age.

    I remember you kept targeting me as a kissing post. Hahhaha...I pretended to be quietly affronted, but I actually enjoyed it. You'll have to excuse my memory. It's extremely sharp.

    Then when we became friends in Junior High, I caught your sensitive side even though I still saw you as a tough kid. Loud, vulgar and tough. I guess that's what I admired about you as I was relatively quiet (depending on the circumstance) and anything but tough. I thought of myself as overly sensitive. I wonder how you saw me. I don't expect other people to have vivid memories though.

    God, all this self discovery. I think I'll Skype my old shrink in New York.

  3. JDB,
    No, I don't think I was a bully - you're correct. More of a big-mouth if anything at all. I just always enjoyed being social, really. I don't know if I was strong back then...it took me until now to realize that yes, maybe there's strength underneath my sensitivity. And yes, you're right that I was sensitive and yes, now that you mention it, I do believe I tried to kiss ya. :)
    I remember you mostly in art class... I always sat with you and James (Goetz, was it?) and I always tried to talk with you about deep stuff. That's how I remember you the most. And even though I was loud (was I vulgar back then too? Eek... I know I can be NOW but I accept that I am and quite enjoy it!) I do remember always finding something more interesting about the quieter people (you) and wanting to delve into their heads. It's those who are quiet and deep that are sometimes more interesting than the people who are boisterous.
    Thank you, my friend... It's always nice when someone has a memory he's willing to share. And no, this definitely doesn't embarrass me.
    J. Miz xo

  4. Rock on! And nobody is more vulgar and boisterous than I. I believe that it's a virtue to get things off the chest. Yes it was Goetz. We also talked about ROCK! Who was that other kid with the rat tail in his hair?