Saturday, May 29, 2010

How my devil and my angel make me crazy and what I'm doing about it

I've been keeping up with the 2500 word per day challenge and I have to say, some weird stuff seems to be coming out as I pour out enough words to get to the daily goal. I write as if I'm journaling so it's mostly stream of consciousness with a little bit of editing.

Yesterday I had a whole conversation with myself about my life. I would post it but it's really embarrassing. But one of the things I discussed with myself is the fact that I want to be a fun person. And to be a fun person, I have to do fun things. I'm usually up for stuff if someone else makes the plans but that's kind of a problem now that I'm divorced from the person who used to make the fun plans. So I reminded myself that if I want something in my life, I'm responsible for figuring out how to make it happen. So thanks to myself (with a little nudging from a friend), I rented a guitar today. I have two months to try it out and decide if I want to continue learning. At that point I'll either buy a guitar or move on to my next hobby (or back to one of the million hobbies I've already started).

Today I started writing about why I sometimes feel like I have multiple personalities. For a long time, I've felt that I have a devil who hangs out on my left shoulder and an angel who hangs out on my right shoulder. The devil isn't evil – just mischievous. When I think back on the times I've gotten myself in trouble, I can usually trace it back to something he said or suggested. He’s the one that dares me to do stuff that my angel thinks is a bad idea. He’s the one that says that everything will be okay while the angel worries about the consequences. Usually I listen to the angel. But not always. Sometimes the devil can convince the angel that something she doesn't want is okay. And sometimes I just tell them to shut up so I can figure out what’s right.

The problem with the devil is that he doesn't really think about other people or the consequences of various things. He thinks of stuff that would be fun or exciting. He wants adventure. But he forgets that I’m a mom. He forgets that I have a job. He likes music and reading and eating and drinking. He likes hanging out with friends and watching movies and tv. He likes being lazy, lazy, lazy. He hates paperwork. He hates cleaning. He hates order and efficiency. Loves chaos and mayhem. He likes to dance like a madman. He’s the one that wants the tattoo.

My angel thinks about other people constantly. She’s the responsible one who pays the bills. And tries hard to get the kids to school on time. She likes it when things are organized and orderly. She completely freaks out when I don’t keep my promises but she’s the one who gets me to over-promise in the first place. Because she wants everyone to love me. She wants me to be a good girl who never lets anyone down. She doesn't want me getting into trouble. Or making trouble. She thinks a tattoo is a horrible idea because some people might not like it. Some people might think it’s silly or weird. People might think I’m not acting my age. Like I said, she wants everyone to love me. Or at least like me. She wants to fit in so badly. My devil doesn't give a rat's ass about that crap.

It's no wonder I feel nuts. Sometimes they yell at each other so loud I can't hear myself think. And sometimes they refuse to speak at all and I feel lost. Lately I've been listening to my devil more often. First of all, he's a lot more fun. But also I'm kind of pissed at my angel because she sort of fucked up my life. If I hadn't listened to her I probably would have gotten out of my marriage sooner. Then again, maybe this is all just a neat trick so that I don't have to take responsibility for my own decisions.

One of the problems is that the devil and the angel each have their own agendas. They aren't always thinking about what's in my long-term best interest. If I listen to one or the other of them too much, my life gets out of balance and I get off track. I think the key for me is to develop a set of values - touchstones - that I can refer to whenever I'm feeling stuck about a decision. The devil and the angel can debate all they want. I can feel better about whatever decision I make if it stands up against my touchstone values.

It isn't that I don't have any values. I do. But I've been so ungrounded (for lack of a better word) for so long that I've lost touch with the core of who I am and who I want to be. When I'm not grounded, I'm almost at the mercy of whoever talks loudest - whether it's my angel, my devil, my kids, my boss or my ex-husband. For years I felt like I was standing chest deep in the ocean, struggling to keep my footing. I was constantly buffeted by the waves with the tide pulling at me. At my lowest, I thought about giving in and floating away - or worse. When I felt strong, I would tread water, fighting to stay in what I hoped was the right spot. I finally feel like I'm on solid ground but still somewhat subject to the wind and shifting sands.

As I was thinking about this, I remembered why I started reading one of my new favorite blogs - Fierce and Mighty. It was this post that hooked me. Specifically, it was this:

"I am the sort of person who believes that in order to have a successful and fulfilling life, it’s important to have a set of principles on which to ground yourself. I think that’s a lot of what helped me through some of my rougher times – that foundation of knowing who I was and who I wanted to be.

I want to be the guy who treats people the way I want to be treated… even if that other person is a douchebag. I want to live with honor. I want to live with integrity. I want to live with determination. I want to never be afraid to risk getting my heart broken because if I hold back, I’ll never get the chance at experiencing great love. I want to live in balance (this one is hard for me). I want to never forget how much of this life is a gift and I should never, ever, EVER take that for granted… because I've seen how life can jump up and kick some amazing people in the teeth without any provocation or sense of it being deserved. Anyone can suffer that fate… so embrace the good and the opportunities you see now."

I'm always impressed with people who know who they are. And knowing your own core values is essential to knowing who you really are. So what are my touchstones? I haven't quite figured that out yet. (I thought about waiting to publish this post until I figured it all out. But that would certainly mean that this post would never get published. And I'd probably stop thinking about my touchstones all together and go back to treading water).

It would be easy for me to just adopt Fierce and Mighty's values as my own - they're great. They sound good and seem like values I "should" live by. But that would be cheating. And really won't get me on solid ground because they won't be mine really. I'll always know that they're his so I'll wonder if I'm applying them right or something. So I'll have to think about it for awhile. Sit in Remembrance and see what my heart says. I know that I'll come up with a few things eventually. And I'll be on my way to solid ground in no time.

What are your Touchstone values? Please share - I could use some ideas!
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