Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Wear Your Diamond Dearings Every day
Last night I learned how poorly I take a compliment. My daughter caught me doing what I almost always do when given praise. I criticize it by pushing up against it my own less complimentary opinion of myself or my work, or I counter it by offering a return compliment to put whoever gave the kind words on a higher plane than me. Mock humility in practice to the point of becoming reflexive.
Shocked to have this moment of clarity illuminated by my 17 year old, I asked her, "How would you suggest I respond?" She then role played to explain I should simply say "Thank you." and all that inner critic that I wanted to just let out in the moment, should be sent packing. To not simply take the praise was to insult the giver, to refuse the gift, was to be rude. She went on to explain that to deny what someone else said as being true for the sake of oddly enough, not allowing myself to think I looked bad, made the other person feel bad for trying to praise me.
I looked in the mirror this morning and realized, this was all true. It wasn't all the truth of me, but there was a nut of it, stemming from never quite believing I was worthy of compliments let alone friends. It also explained my near compulsive desire to launch into what my children refer to as my stand up routine whenever brought into contact with strangers.
Suffice it to say, I got skewered. New People! Time to make them laugh, appear confident, smile, laugh too loudly, it's show time folks! Impress. Dazzle. Leave feeling high from the interaction, certain I've made a friend for life even if I never see them again. Wonder why no one calls or emails five minutes later. They've seen this enough times to know it is not intimate, it is a mock sharing. It is shared, but it is rather like a blog, for public consumption.
Then I sat there mad...like do we ever get over our own hang ups...does it really take to the age of 46 to even recognize a hang up? and then...why now? Friends are like diamond earrings and compliments. They should be given/enjoyed daily or they will grow dusty and be lost when it comes time for a special occasion, diamond dearings to be shown and known and enjoyed.
So when a friend called to talk about the reunion, she didn't realize she'd touched on a newly exposed vulnerability. We both felt like the coming event seemed a little flat. That I had only a few friends coming to the college for this 25th year anniversary was the fruit of not having spent time with them since, not being present then or now, save when it fit my schedule.
Being present always means the same thing, being there for the other, and I'd spent much of college not being present at my own school. To those to whom I was close, they remain, but two are deceased. Since then, while I form friends quickly --like creating lots of shallow roots, many of those friendships were built on shallow soil. Others have died from a lack of tending. Still others are there still hoping to be breathed on at some point, and then I asked.
You'd think by now, I'd know to ask and ask often and shoot, spend the whole day asking because God never tires. Friends. Despite ten children and a wonderful husband, great parents and in-laws, sister and brothers, sister and brother in laws, despite everything and everyone I knew, I felt lonely. Friends God. I want friends.
My heart asked before my head understood what I was asking but I did ask.
And God always answers. He knows how I work too, which is good, because He can pour through that junk that I use to keep things shallow or at least, incidental. He also knows I have little patience so the phone rang almost immediately.
I wanted desperately to be the one to be there for the other for everyone else...yes that sounds very selfish and yes...it is. Yes it was. One of the ones I had been there for, even when it was hard, even though it might have been born of my own selfishness, was the first to call in response to my prayer. And she set me straight. Getting off the phone with her, I felt both exhausted and exhilarated.
Then I called three women I like, who I would like to have as closer friends. I have to start being the friend to the people I hope to name as such and that means, time. I sat afterwards marveling at how stupid it is that I spend so much time not recognizing the gifts put in front of me, pushing them aside like compliments. Refusing to fully take on the gifts and the givers. Keeping the earrings in a box. And I'm carrying around a gong in my head, so that when the stand up lady shows up, I can bang her off the stage. The one not putting on the show is much more interesting and it's time she stopped pretending, she didn't want to be seen.
Oh. And I put on my diamond earrings.