Monday, March 13
Someone counseled me last night to keep my heart open.
But they had no idea how hurt I was inside.
Keeping an open heart is being open to betrayal, to hurt, to loss and overwhelming pain. It's being willing to emotionally invest in people who might never give back, willing to believe in places that may only lead to sorrow. It's not being blind to people's failures, but being willing to believe in them and their ability to change, to trust them, to give them endless chances to move forward and try again.
It's a tried-and-true method of exchanging love for more hurt than I could ever imagine.
And is it worth it?
I've started keeping track of the friendships I try to develop. And the vast majority end in excruciating pain on my end... usually long before they begin to pay emotional dividends. There is no rational reason for me to share my heart with individuals or the world when for decades doing exactly that has led to pain, betrayal, and realizing that others never really cared in the first place.
In some twisted, or divine, way, though, that same pain has made me a better person. More aware of the pain and sorrow and suffering in the world... and, ironically, it has opened my heart to helping others.
But each time I'm burned I find have a hard time trusting people again. I can trust them to exist, to make mistakes, and perhaps to even bring some sort of temporary respite to life. But can I trust them to be committed? To be honest? Is it wise, or even safe, to give my heart and soul to someone, even when they need it, when so many have crushed it without a word or a care?
That's the thing. Being a true friend to someone requires trust, even in tenuous times. It requires honesty and vulnerability.
And the reality of the matter is that those will lead to pain... as they have in the far and recent past.
Hence why I am in pain right now.
I want it to stop.
And I could make it happen. I could numb in a thousand different ways - from seeking endorphin highs at the gym to drinking myself to oblivion. And to keep myself safe I could close my heart and simply stop believing in people.
Closing off to people, and the world, isn't hard... and likely few would even notice.
But that's not what life is, right? It's important to surround myself with good people. To choose my closest friends from only those who have made the same goals and who are committed to being there for me for eternity. But it's also important to love people... to forgive them... and to turn to relationships with the hope that the other person will be there for me - to be reliant and give people the opportunity to be there for me and part of my life a second and a third and a thousand other times.
Dear world, I am hurt. You have betrayed and discarded me once again, when I did everything I knew how... and gave everything I had.
And yet a sense of honor, and need to do the right thing, and whatever else it is, courses through me. Honor sometimes seems masochistic. Why would I jump back into the fray of emotional pain only moments after being destroyed... just because it's the right thing to do?
Because it's the right thing to do.
For everyone else, it seems that the game returns a net positive. And while it may ultimately bring me only pain and misery, at least I can be a friend to someone for a moment along the way... and make the world a little better place. The honor inside me says that my pain is worth less than someone else's... and even if I feel a hundred times more, if I can help someone in need, be there for someone who wants help coming closer to God, then it's worth it.
And I believe that.
God loves and is hurt far more than I could ever imagine. He knows me and my heart. And, thanks to Him... it'll all be ok.
Posted by Mormon Guy at 10:35 AM
Sunday, March 5
When life and work are packed, I can almost pretend that my life is normal. I meet new people, help people smile at work, schedule my day to spend time with family and take time to relax.
But often that's not enough to overcome the feelings that undergird the rest.
I feel like I'm broken.
Specifically, I feel like a real friendship with me, a relationship with me, would never be enough for someone else, unless circumstances 'made' them choose me.
There are exceptions. My best friend is there for me whenever I need him... and while we are both broken, we've both put in effort to make the friendship work. My family is always there for me, and one blessing my siblings have is that we forgive quickly.
But I can't shake the feeling that I'm unique from the rest of my world in an awful, terrifying way. That "I am broken... so the only people who would ever be my close friends are people who are broken. And as soon as they're not broken anymore... they won't be close friends anymore."
Part of me knows that can't be completely true.
And part of me believes it to my core.
I mean, for the vast majority of my life people have come and gone.
With rare exceptions, people don't usually seek me out to be my friend. The people who do are often searching for something specific that I can give instead of searching for *me* - they want someone who can listen, someone who cares, someone who isn't going to pass judgment or who can give advice. Which means that if I want a real friendship, I often end up being the driving force. For whatever reasons, it's incredibly difficult for others to take that role. And when I stop driving - whether from being busy in life or depression or whatever - it just disappears.
Sometimes it disappears anyway.
So maybe I'm broken. And this has nothing to do with being attracted to men. I have autism, bipolar, and a host of other things - and they impact my life whether anyone wants them to or not. Whether or not I am broken, however, life is definitely full of broken dreams and shattered relationships regardless of who I am and what I face.
I guess the question is this:
What am I going to do about it?
I could stop hoping. I've pulled myself out from the world emotionally because it hurt too much more times than I can count. The greatest pain comes when people close to me turn away or leave my life... so I could live assuming that no one will ever stay. Life can still be incredibly meaningful when I forget myself and work for others, focusing on making every moment worthwhile. That's usually my go-to.
I could numb. There are thousands of things that could distract me from reality and help me forget. Drugs and alcohol are obviously poor choices... but exercise, food, video games, hobbies, tv and movies, books, social media, and more could serve as distractions.
And then Mikey calls for help and interrupts my reverie. My family cares for an angel who has lived with us for a decade. We don't know what is happening, but the past few days she's been hallucinating worms crawling out of her skin, and bugs coating the floor. I go up to get her and she's having trouble understanding that it's Sunday, and everyone else is at Church. Yes, I may be broken, but there are people who need help far more than I do. And my ward doesn't start for a couple more hours.
I sit and read to her, and the feeling of worthlessness and aloneness fades away. My problems seem so small and insignificant in comparison.
And then I remember the compact I made with God when I first felt wholly broken, years ago. I was as low as I could get - depressed, suicidal, alone, and disconnected... wanting only to die to make the pain go away. And somehow in that moment, I found God, and He made me a deal: I promised to spend my life reaching outward, serving others, choosing the right, focusing on making the world a better place... and He promised that in His own way, and His own time, He would meet my needs and make me whole.
I guess that's the answer.
Do my best, try to love people, try to make the world a better place, and trust that God will make it all work out.
Likely I'll forget again. Life will seem rough, people will come into my life and disappear out of it, I'll feel incredible pain and loneliness and frustration and feel broken beyond belief.
But, for right now, I see purpose in the life I live. God gave me life so that I can do His will. Perhaps, from my current perspective, I *am* broken. But that's ok.
"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."
Posted by Mormon Guy at 10:01 AM