Friday, May 19, 2006

Messy Humans

Getting close to people is a messy thing. I've been thinking and learning a lot about community lately - how our modern culture of going it alone and every man for himself is so against everything in the Bible. When I've thought about the messiness of people it has usually been in seeing more an more of people's true selves as we get closer. More learning that being together when everyone's tired is going to mean some grumpiness and that everyone isn't always picture perfect.

But this week my thoughts about messy humans has been about myself. I've always been a very 'on stage/back stage' type of person. There are areas of my house that are off limits to anyone else (which often results in them being very messy because I know no one will see them - sigh) and my public persona at my job is very different from who I am in real life. Part of this is that I'm an introvert and wouldn't be able to function in such an extroverted job. Part of it is (honestly) that I've been hurt very often by people who I thought were my friends, and now it takes a lot for me to trust people. So, I'm happy, bouncy, bubbly. Except, really I'm not. There are very few people in the world that I can really decompress with. (Part of this also has to do with control and controlling people's impressions, which is another blog for another day.)

This week I had a horrible week. I wrapped up a major project on Monday that had been chewing through my time and energy. Well worth it, but I was mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted by the end. On Wednesday we were finishing up a proposal I've been working on for 4 months. There had been lots of obstacles and I had worked exceedingly hard to get it on track and keep it there. Plus, I had been having trouble sleeping, so I was too tired to be at work.

So, Wednesday afternoon I'm in the middle of last minute high drama on the proposal and I got an email from a friend that upset me. It was from someone I'm close to and in the midst of all the other drama going on (which the person didn't know about) I got a little sideswiped by the email. I lost it. Then my boss wrote an email saying the proposal was off and wasn't being submitted. So, I did what any successful professional woman would do. I closed my office door and I cried.

Then the proposal went in and I left the office early. I pulled myself together, picked up a couple of groceries and I went home. By the time I got home there was a message from the friend who sent the email.

I pulled myself together before I called them back, but as soon as we started to talk I lost it again. We talked for a short time and cleared things up.

I went to bed at 7 and woke up at 7 the next morning. I felt like a new woman. The proposal was in, the conflict with my friend never existed, and I didn't feel exhausted.

Then the panic hit me. I had sobbed on the phone with my friend the night before. No pretense of being pulled together. Totally falling apart. What would they think of me? Maybe I should just pack my stuff up and move before word got out that I'm a complete flake/freak/basket case? How was I going to face my friend knowing that they knew this about me? My secret was out - when I get exceedingly tired I cry. And I often get irrational. Most of the time when I'm in that state I completely avoid any human contact, because I don't want anyone to see me like that. In fact, truth be told, that's one of the reasons I don't have roommates. I don't reach out for help, because I don't want anyone to see me like that. I'd rather deal with things alone that have people see me as a basket case.

Eventually the panic faded and I saw my friend on Thursday evening. There was no headline in the local paper about my breakdown. None of my other friends had found out. In fact, my friend didn't treat me any more like a freak than usual. :)

All this is to say that I need to learn the humility of being a messy person. If I really do want to live in close community, I can't just withdraw from it when I'm not at my best. I can't just assume that others will reject me if they see what I'm really like.

Reading the book of Acts it can often feel like a bit of a white wash. There's no discussion of the day to day existence of this amazing community. How did they deal with one another? How did they learn to trust? I guess some of this we have to figure out on our own. How to be messy and yet trust each other enough to live closely together.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the past year I've learned that people actually love me more when I let them see me when I'm vulnerable and upset. It's hard to love a person if you don't get to see all of them. I hope you can let people in even during "messy" times, because it's not so much about being messy it's about being real.

10:18 AM  

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