“And what can I say? Cause I can’t be…the one you wanted me to be.” ~Sarah McLachlan
I try to be good. I really do. Every single day I work hard to make myself a more loving, kind, and compassionate person. I work on being an active listener when people need one. I strive to provide support and encouragement to everyone I encounter. I do my best to share smiles with strangers and perform random acts of kindness as much as possible. I strive to be patient and understanding, withholding prejudice and judgment.
I am not always successful.
Just like everyone else in this world, I have my wounded places, and my shadow. And when those wounds get probed, my shadow comes out. It’s not pretty when that happens. I become sarcastic and condescending, and I can toss out verbal barbs with the best of them. I can be petty and jealous and insecure. My faults, it seems, are legion.
I’ve been on a roll lately.
The other day, a group of PETA protesters put a bad taste in my mouth (ha!) for vegetarians. A bad taste that I promptly washed out with a dinner of hot wings, steak, and bbq ribs. Now, I don’t give a shit what people eat (or don’t eat). If you’re happy being a vegetarian, then more power to you. If the demand for meat falls far enough, then prices will too, and that means that I can eat more. Everybody wins, right? But for the love of god, don’t think for one second that being a vegetarian makes you any better, or any more spiritual, or any more enlightened than I am. The spirituality of omnivorism is a blog post for another day, but for now, just accept that your dietary habits have nothing to do with salvation. Or enlightenment. Or anything else. Know who else ate meat? The Buddha. And Jesus Christ. And Mohammed. And Mother Teresa. And the Dalai Lama (Briefly. He once got sick trying to follow a vegetarian diet and had to eat meat for a while. He has since returned to a vegetarian diet). And every person who ever lived in a primitive or stone-age society, including Native Americans, who are some of the most spiritual people you’ll ever meet.
It pissed me off. Enter the shadow, which prompted me to post a very graphic description of just how much I love to eat meat on facebook. That’s not ok. I mean, granted, there are far worse things that could have come out of it. I could have gone back and doused the protesters with bbq sauce…just like they douse people with animal blood. That would have been funny. And landed me in jail, probably. But anyway, my post was offensive to some of my friends (and not just the vegetarians), and so I felt bad. Not really because they were offended (if I have learned anything over the past year, its that people are offended because of their own issues…I am not responsible for their feelings), but rather I was upset because I didn’t act from the same place of tolerance that I wanted. If you want to be treated with respect, respect others, n’est ce pas?
Last night, I did it again. I went to the store, and while I was there…I was approached by a church group who wanted to pray for me. Now, in case you didn’t know…there are two things I should share to put this in context. One, I am physically disabled, and use a wheelchair for mobility. Thus, I get a LOT of people who want to pray for me. Second, I abandoned Christianity over 25 years ago, and I never looked back. I have no ill will (anymore) to Christianity or to the Christian god. In fact, I think Jesus was a pretty cool dude. I don’t think he actually did half the shit people say he did, nor did he say half the shit that they say he said…and I absolutely reject the nonsense of a virgin birth or the begotten son of god…but I do think he had a good message that has since been perverted and twisted into a shadow of it’s true nature.
It doesn’t usually bother me when people want to pray for me. It doesn’t hurt me, and it makes them feel good about themselves, so I let them do it. I grin and bear it, and tell them what they want to hear when they ask me if I feel anything differently. I don’t really care what people believe, or what they don’t believe. I have a special place in my heart for atheists. You know why? Because they don’t bother people. They don’t try to convert people. God bless the atheists. But, I digress…back to the story:
Afterwards, it pissed me off, because all I could think about was how upset they would have been if I had tried to share my beliefs with them. If I had said anything about the Goddess, or Shaktism, or even just energy/magic…they would have been appalled. The praying would have REALLY begun at that point! And the more I thought about it, the more upset I got. This same thing happened with my family over the Christmas break. Always, I am expected to sit silently while people share their beliefs with me. Christians in this country have this sense of entitlement…like they can say or do whatever the hell they want, but god forbid should you try to share your beliefs with them.
So, I did it again. I came home, and wrote a scathing post on facebook about Christians. And of course, someone took me to task for it. Then they unfriended me. It’s no loss…but still, I can;t help but think that maybe I should have kept my opinions to myself.
No, fuck that.
I have spent the first 37 years afraid of pissing people off because I did not wish to lose their friendship. I have spent the last year living for myself, quite content to be alone if that’s what it takes. What I have found is that people who really and truly love me accept me as I am, even if they don’t agree with me. Those who don’t, well, they fall away naturally and I don’t miss them for very long.
So what’s the point of this post? Honestly, I don’t really know. Partly, I want to apologize for my obnoxious behavior, but then again…I really don’t. I want to explain it, but I also feel like I shouldn’t have to. I’m tired of apologizing for not being perfect…for not always living in accordance with my own values. I am sorry that people get hurt, but since no one ever apologizes for hurting my feelings (I am often told that I am responsible for my own feelings, and so if I am hurt, that is my problem, not theirs), then I think I’m going to stop apologizing for stating my opinions. Sometimes, I really am an asshole though, and I don’t plan on stopping apologizing when I am genuinely wrong about something…I’m just tired of feeling responsible for how other people perceive me. I am me, both the good and the bad. I shouldn’t be afraid of expressing myself.
And maybe that’s the point of this. I want to see people as they really are…the good and the bad. I want to know my friends intimately…not just the parts they share with the world, but also the parts they keep hidden. I want to know when you are being a brat, or being selfish, or being “less than lovely”. I want to know your fears and your prejudices, your personal failings and your personal triumphs. I want to know your secret kinky fantasies and your dirty thoughts.
And I want you to know mine. My shadow is as much a part of me as my light, and I will not dim either one to make people more comfortable. Most of all, I want people in my life who understand that, and who will still love me even after I show my shadow side.
I’m not asking for anything I’m not willing to give in return. Is it too much to ask?
“Nothing you confess…could make me love you less. I’ll stand by you.” ~The Pretenders