Monday, October 15, 2012

How do we measure?

Sometimes life feels like a game of catch-up; and I'm not talking about trying to jump on the hamster wheel of the dreaded rat race. But figuring out this whole 'life' thing, especially as a self-directed endeavor, sometimes feels overwhelming.

It's probably safe to say that the majority of us feel like we've got only an inkling of a clue as to what's going on. There are times where I take comfort in that. Other times, like today, I struggle to shake the free-floating anxiety I attach to the bigger questions of "Where am I going" and "What do I want." There were times where I thought that I knew; mostly I know that I don't know.

And you know what? A grand majority of the time I am just fine with that. I try to give myself a lot of leeway, like: "Hey, for a gal who grew up in a cult that controlled all of the aspects of your life, you're doing kind of well for yourself." Sometimes, though, that just doesn't feel like enough. While I realize that I'm fighting the programming of how I was raised, it's very difficult to shake the feeling of not being enough. This is only exacerbated by the success/fame obsession we have in our culture.

There was a time, about 10 years ago, that I ached to be fucking normal (whatever that means, right?).
There is this distinct memory of being 17 and life guarding on gloomy winter mornings, listening to the sploosh, sploosh, splursh of the elderly patrons' laps across the pool. I had learned all of their strokes patterns and knew that, despite appearances, the gentleman in lane three was not drowning. He just sort of swam that way. I would get mesmerized by their gliding across the pool, my head going back and forth like a mother hen counting her chicks.

I'd walk around the pool to stay awake, being the only guard on duty those cold mornings. During the hours of solitary watching, I'd wrestle with my internal self and the rhetoric that we had been indoctrinated with: we had to be someone for God and "True Father." We had to accomplish things for God and "True Parents." One older sister had once taken me out to lunch specifically to tell me that she thought I had a lot to offer God. But I had no idea what it was I was supposed to do, or be or accomplish and that anxiety of not knowing often drove me to distraction.

There was a point in those early mornings where I simply longed for normalcy, and to live my life for myself. I didn't really want to work for God, love for God, or accomplish  for God. Rebellious! The God of my childhood bore Rev. Moon's face. There was disapproval lining every expression. There was nothing that I wanted to give to that; to feed into that was to be faced with every offering of self as being insufficient.

I sought normal, safe and insignificant as my shelter from the world of upheaval and abuse. It was probably the foundation that I needed. Success was measured in teaspoons: being able to buy a car, pay rent on an apartment, hold down a job, have a cat....have a relationship. Later I worked myself through school and got a big girl job. Had we graduated to tablespoons of success?

It's still difficult for me to measure my success as a human being. A number of my fellow second generation who left the church are dealing with sex and drug addiction. There are others that are immensely successful in their professional lives - a success that I hope translates into their personal lives as well. It's taking me time to discover what makes me a worthwhile human being. Outside of the context of being dictated to, and told where my worth and value lies, it is difficult to get my bearings some days.

For a long time it has been difficult to deal with the knowledge that no matter what I accomplished in my life, I would never have true acknowledgement or approval from my parents. All they really wanted from me was to get married (for God) and make babies (for God). Everything else would have been icing on the proverbial cake (for God).

Maybe, just maybe, I am finally coming to terms with that. It's ok to go through life without the stamp of approval from authority figures. I'm also learning that, despite the way I was raised, I can pick and choose my mentors and, occasionally, my authority figures. There is no one else to answer to in my life but me. That can be fucking lonely...

Now that I'm finally crawling out of my hiding place of insignificance and anonymity, I ask myself how do I measure myself as a person. Am I a success? Just because I didn't become addicted to sex or drugs upon leaving the church, does that in any way reflect on my worth? I don't think so - but truthfully it was a point of measure for me for a long time- especially if I had to defend myself against my parents.

There is a birthday coming up. I'm nearing the end of my 20's and many days I still feel lost. Is that normal?

"I have come to accept the feeling of not knowing where I am going. And I have trained myself to love it. Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight, that we force our wings to unravel and alas begin our flight. And as we fly, we still may not know where we are going to. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings. You may not know where you're going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you."

~C. JoyBell C.


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