First, in a slightly better mood than the last blog. It was just one of those days.
Second, before moving on to anything else I’d like to state how sad I am about Jim Carroll’s passing. I only knew him as an acquaintance, but he was close to someone in my extended family, and in my experience he was a very sweet, gentle person. His writing blew me away as a teenager trapped in Catholicism, and was one of the influences that brought me to New York. Upon meeting him I was not disappointed; he was a true poet, a deeply sensitive soul, and his words resonated far beyond the page. Our world is dimmer for his loss.
So I have been thinking a lot about the defenses we build up, and how what serves us in some ways hinders us in others. And in my own case, how difficult it is to get clear on what is real and what is past damage clouding my vision. At times it feels like madness, which in a way, I suppose it is.
No one is born angry or defensive. We get hurt in whatever endlessly varied ways there are to get hurt, and we start rigging pulleys and levers and straps to prop ourselves up in whatever ways feel necessary to get through the day. Over time layers are built up, and left unchecked we can become wrapped in probably necessary but very heavy layers of crap that restrict true movement.
Recently my inner circle of friends were discussing the drug addiction of someone we love. I had only weeks before that spoken to this person about their childhood, which was absolutely horrific, on a Bastard Out of Carolina level of sorrow, betrayal, and abuse. Just hearing a quick summation of it brought me to tears. So in our discussion I proposed that in order for this person to stop doing drugs, they would have to find other ways to deal with and cleanse from what must be a crippling pain, and to me that looked far more daunting than carrying a simple drug habit. Which is not to say that I’m advocating addiction, but trying to say that nothing happens in a vacuum and sometimes it isn’t as simple as we’d like it to be. Sometimes the fucked up things we do keep us alive.
I have stated before that it’s my own personal belief that the most offensive people are operating from a defensive position, even if we can’t always see what they’re defending. I know that to be completely true in my case. At my worst, at my most difficult, at my most offensive states, I have been attempting to protect myself. And sometimes those ways have been hurtful to others, and most definitely hurtful to myself. But we work with what we have.
So now I find myself in a position in life where many of my defensive layers just aren’t making sense any more. Despite all and numerous attempts to prove otherwise, the person that I share my life with remains consistently trustworthy and solid. I find that rather than being the victim I once created my own personal armors to defend, I have instead become the asshole in the equation, tilting at my own windmills or behaving in unnecessarily fucked up ways simply out of habit.
It feels incredibly uncomfortable to simply be quiet and trust that things are indeed what they seem, especially when one is so used to the sky falling, the rug being pulled out, the words being a lie. And I am not just speaking for myself, I’m speaking for many people I know, and I suppose especially for the women I know. How does a person soften, when it took years to harden into a much-needed protective shell? Exhibit A:
me: So years ago I lived at the Jane West hotel
Ingrid: do you know where that ass is now
Exhibit B: Recently I’m standing at a show surrounded by people. A girl next to me points to the husband of a friend of mine and says “I hate that guy. He’s married and he hits on every girl he can. He’s so gross.” My stomach drops and I say, “His wife is beautiful and brilliant.” I feel sick inside because it brings back the memory of so many similar situations in my own life, and I know how hurt my friend will be eventually. A familiar voice inside of me says, “This is what happens when you trust.”
Most of the women I know over the age of 35 are angry, really angry, for mostly legitimate reasons. I know I’ve spoken about this a million times already. But what I haven’t fully worked out in my brain is what comes after that anger, which can fuel us and make us interesting, but in the long run doesn’t serve us in a truly positive way. How does a person, when finally managing to pull themselves out of the line of fire, soften back into the original state of open faith? I am unsure, except that I know it involves a very slow peeling of layers and the patience of the people who love us. It is daunting and scary, but I guess necessary for the shift that we’re all approaching. And in my case, I owe it to my boyfriend.
Sigh…I really hate being nice. Would be so much easier just to develop a drug habit, wouldn’t it?