February 28, 2010

A friend was complaining to me about her children.  She is frustrated with them.   Listening to her, I was paralyzed.  I had no response beyond a blank stare and brooding afterthought.  My friend doesn't know something important.  Every complaint she has about her children, she embodies.  Clearly, she's taught them to be this way.  Its as obvious as the nose on her very dear, wonderful, human, and loving face.   As a person accused of being opinionated, I am not going to point this out to her.  And she is not asking my opinion.

In truth, I am opinionated.  (As if that isn't obvious.)  I worked really hard to become opinionated.  I used to be almost completely mute under the weight of my insecurity.  And I struggled for years, examining the hurt feelings and broken bits I find in myself, before I emerged into the world capable of forming, expressing, and then owning opinions.  At a party this weekend someone called me opinionated.  I stood there, again, brooding.  Then I saw clearly: that is exactly right.  And I've chosen myself this way.  I am also reasonably fabulous.  And, yes, I actually just said that.

Despite my lovable fabulousishness and my hard-won opinionatedness, I am deeply broken.  And I don't forget this very often.  I am aware of what Jung calls the shadow self.  I know that we rarely see our own faults.  This knowledge haunts me.  It haunts me like a million winged black things capable of obliterating light.  And that is no exaggeration.  Sometimes my fear is so staggering I can only pray to God and hang on.  Which helps, but gets me no closer to seeing what I haven't yet seen.   Such is the paradox of being human. 

We all homeschool our children, one way or another.  We probably teach them many of their faults.  But no matter where they learn, they will have faults.  Because we all do.  What should we teach them about this quandary?  Perhaps:  You are human therefore you are broken.  It will be very helpful to yourself, not to mention the world, if you can find a way to love anyway.  Best start with loving yourself.  Because the more you can love yourself, the more you will find love externally and the more loving you will be to your children and the world. 

How do you love yourself?  Probably not by proclaiming your fabulousishness publicly.  Probably by examining the ways you are broken, with the help of trusted friends or a therapist. 

Dear God, please help me remember that when I am critical of others, there is a great chance I am actually complaining about myself to myself.  Which, if I can remember to pay attention, is not such a bad thing after all.  Is that a design of this world?  Because we sure do complain a lot, huh?  Love, Ms. Our Report Card

We must be exceedingly careful not to project our own shadows too shamelessly; we are still swamped with projected illusions. If you imagine someone who is brave enough to withdraw all his projections, then you get an individual who is conscious of a pretty thick Shadow. Such a man has saddled himself with new problems and conflicts. He has become a serious problem to himself, as he is now unable to say that they do this or that, they are wrong, and they must be fought against. He lives in the “House of the Gathering.” Such a man knows that whatever is wrong in the world is in himself, and if he only learns to deal with his own Shadow he has done something real for the world. He has succeeded in shouldering at least an infinitesimal part of the gigantic, unsolved social problems of our day. These problems are mostly so difficult because they are poisoned by mutual projections. How can anyone see straight when he does not even see himself and the darkness he unconsciously carries with him into all dealings? ~Jung: Psychology and Religion


val said...

yeah. i have a bit of pms going on this weekend, and i'm aware, as you say, of how i perceive others has mostly everything to do with how i FEEL right now, and very little is about how they are or what they said, or whatever.

around here we call it "reading in." it's like not taking something at face value, but adding imagined meaning. most of the time reading in is probably all about projection.

yep. you hit the nail on the head again. love, V

Anonymous said...

Oh,K. You write so beautifully. You really do.

I like what you said in your last paragraph. Before the Jung quote. "....help me remember that when I am critical of others, there is a great chance I am actually complaining about myself to myself."

How many times have I heard the complaining and griping over someones attitude or ideas...the critical harpy in me coming out. And only when I decided to be happy with ME, could I finally let go of my unhappiness with others. Well...mostly. Until I have PMS ;)

Thanks for your eloquence!


Sara said...

Beautiful post, and just what I needed to read today. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Such beauty and wisdom in this post. You are fabulous indeed. :)

I chuckled when I read that someone called you opinionated. HA ha. My mother always tells me I'm argumentative. Um..."I just have very strong opinions, Mum." But she thinks I just want to pick a fight. And the bit about being mute under the weight of insecurity made my eyes well up. I know that feeling SO well.
I am broken indeed and this post really helped to put (more) into perspective how I project that brokenness onto my lovely boy. Think it's time I wrote God a letter like that. xo

Cecelia (CC) said...

thank you.