As I have mentioned before, I have a board of directors that help keep me sane. One of them I’ve known since high school, one of them I’ve never physically met, and one of them was on the board in Portland without even knowing it and now watches over me from Alaska. It’s a rolling hierarchy for me, because I have mental health issues and my life goes better when I realize that there is nothing I can do but manage it, and sometimes other people are better judges than I am of my behavior, because I simply cannot see it from the outside like they can. The older I get, having people to which I am accountable is important, because it helps me from falling through the safety net of society by saying and doing things that are so beyond the pale that it alienates people instead of heals them, which is always going to be my intent; being human and fallible prevents me from healing everyone, every time. Sometimes, I’m angry, and even if it’s not your fault, you’re going to think that. I do not have the ability to be objective with the board. They are not my patients or parishioners, and never will be. They are the ones I feel safe in having normal human reactions- in front of people objectively, I cannot let my emotions be a part of “things.” It’s kind of a good attitude to have at any job, because it will stop you from ruminating about petty shit and start to define yourself by what you do for passion instead of money. It’s a Portland attitude that I wear proudly in Houston. When people ask what I do, I rarely if ever tell them what I do for a living, even when I worked at huge corporations. I am a writer, and that’s all you ever need to know about me, because it is not my job but my definition.
It is the board of directors to which I allow surrender in order to make me capable of these ideals, and in my life, I struggle with the pride that comes before the fall. I do not mean that I am weaker than they are. I mean that they are the people that get to see the entire range of who leslie is when it is not appropriate to show it to the whole world, because it affects your confidentiality and not mine alone. Ministering is not blogging, and parishioners aren’t friends. It is a distinct disconnect I will have all my life to ensure clinical separation between my problems and yours. I don’t want to project what I think based on what I’d do if I were you, and I don’t want to ruminate on your problems while I’m trying to have a conversation with my wife and can’t bring myself into the present. I’m sorry. Your problems just cannot be important enough to me that it screws up my marriage, and I think everyone in this profession would agree with that boundary. No one wants to sleep on the sofa.
However, I will take on the problems of the board, because they take on mine. I will comfort them as they comfort me, and with this I hope to live in harmony, but can’t help causing waves occasionally and they can’t, either. We all continue to let our hearts get bigger with acceptance of each other, the wholeness of that person’s being, because it is ice and fire and everything in between, hopefully settling in front of a roaring fire that is constrained only by it’s hearth so that we do not burn.
Fire tempers and makes us stronger. We fight, we have make-up text, we move on, and the scar tissue from that fight heals so that the relationship is stronger and more flexible, not less. Our range of motion has increased, and we are capable of handling dischord [sic].
I didn’t become the full range of humanness until I realized what a gift I’d been given in people who were willing to fight it out with me and come through on the other side stronger than we ever were before. I have a massive disrespect for friends who hear things they don’t like and release their inner eight-year-old and stomp off mad, never to return.
Thanks are necessary for the woman in the story I just linked; she was the one that called me on my bullshit, I apologized, and we moved on to laugh and joke another day. It was taking scar tissue and making a metaphorically elite athlete out of it. L-money, thanks for tempering me. You cannot imagine how much I needed it.
See? Board of directors. They save me when I can’t save myself. Let me know if you create your own. It’s a miracle to me in and of itself.