Saturday, April 19, 2014

Periphery player

I took the kids to church last Sunday, and when I, perhaps, should have been focusing on it being Palm Sunday and all, I went where my mind meandered which was to the periphery.

I've written about feeling like I'm on the periphery before.  But it has been seven years since I wrote about it, so I thought I would revisit the idea.

Maybe it was the Palm Sunday "drama" that led me down the periphery pathway of thought.  Jesus was sorta a periphery guy.  He had his disciples, but he wasn't totally "with them" if we go by the whole Son of God thing.  And he certainly wasn't with the bigwig Jews or the Romans.  He kinda did his own thing.

Anyway, after many years, I finally realized that while I might have temporary yearnings for a very tight, text & call each other friendship, the truth is that kind of friendship would feel stifling.  I think I would quickly become annoyed and resent that my "friend" kept calling & texting me.  The yearnings only come when I hear someone else refer to their friendship that is "tight" in this way.  I'm not far enough removed from middle school (are we ever, fully?) to not think, "Well, something must be wrong with me if I don't have this."

I forget that I could probably have this, but I don't seek it out, which must mean I don't want it.

This is not to say I don't have friends with whom I really and truly enjoy spending time.  There are a number of women I try to get together with as time allows; we take walks or have breakfast or chat as our kids play, and I really get a lot out of those friendships and conversations.

But I don't feel the need to talk to any of them multiple times a day.
I don't feel the need to talk to my husband multiple times a day and am always amazed when I am with someone whose husband calls at all (but especially more than once).

I am definitely on the periphery at church, which is really ok until I see other people who seem far more involved.  (I have to remind myself, when I see these "tight" friends and committed church-goers, that I am seeing .05% of the picture, and my perception may be completely off the mark.)  Sometimes I think, "Maybe I should officially join this church," but that whole idea triggers a surge of uncomfortable feelings in me.  I like this church, and I like the people I've met who go to this church, but I don't feel comfortable committing that much.

It occurred to me yesterday that this inability to "commit" in a very complete way goes back even to my marriage.  I never took D's last name.  After three children and almost 17 years, I sometimes think maybe I should just take his name.  But I can't.  Again, the whole idea triggers all sorts of anxious feelings.

Basically, whenever I think to myself "Maybe I should have a "tight" friendship or officially join the church or change my name" or anything else that I consider that would lock me in (like going back to work full-time), the thought pops into my head, "I DON'T WANT TO."

I'm enough of a worrier to wonder if there is a problem with my feelings of "I DON'T WANT TO," and the older I get the more I feel like I can stew over this all I like, but ultimately if I wanted to change anything I would.  I am certainly not the kind of person who sits back and lets things happen around her.  I am all about projects and trying new things and exploring and doing something proactive if the urge fits.

Perhaps I have commitment issues, but so what?  Maybe the commitment of staying married and being a mom is all that I can manage?

Or maybe somewhere inside me, the smart part of me that doesn't allow middle school feelings of awkwardness to slip in, I realize that what is important is finding women I like and giving them my stories, my concern, and my time when I feel like it.  What is important is when I feel like it I make a point to go to church.  All the time, I give myself, my time, my love to my husband and family, even when I don't feel like it.

But I don't and can't give them everything.  The name has to stay mine.  I can't put on paper or in words that I am officially committed to the church because I don't want to back out and then feel guilt.  I don't want to make promises to people, give them expectations of friendship, that I can't meet.

Maybe this necessary feeling of holding something back is the correlate for me being so open in so many other respects. People tell me all the time, even those I really don't know very well, that I am so real.  I don't mask my feelings.  I don't try to ensure that my life looks polished and wonderful.  If anything, I feel a strong need to tell it like it is because I hate feeling like everyone else around me (that danged perception thing mentioned above) has a handle on things.

I have spent much time feeling like my openness is a flaw.  That I am too real, too honest, that people get annoyed with me for letting it all hang out.  And perhaps they do, but that is their problem and not mine.

As time goes on, I begin to feel that perhaps this realness is my god-given gift.  This thing that puts other people at ease, makes them feel that they are not alone in their flaws...that is a gift, and I have only been able to understand this as people have thanked me for it.  For making them feel not so alone when they have unpleasant feelings.

Maybe the periphery, where I feel I am (whether I am actually there or not), is just the way it has to be in order for my gift to work.

I'm ok with that.

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