I’ve always been a “good girl”. People describe me as kind, nice, pleasant. And that’s ok with me. I AM nice. That’s just not the whole of it.
I grew up in the kind of overly-emotional, logic defying, humanity-denying Christianity that people make documentaries about. Being submissive, loving, kind, and without need was mandatory to, you know, be a woman of god. Not feeling up to the challenge of complete and total compassion 100% of the time? Well, their answer was somewhere between “The devil is already in your soul! Back, Jezebel!” and “Fake it till you make it”. I’m not a big fan of faking my way to heaven these days, but old habits die hard, and god damn it, there are times that I’m going to smile and say, “I’m ok” even after I collapse onto the ground, lose sight in my right eye, and start spouting gibberish.
That’s actually a pretty good description of this past year.
I’ve made progress. Tons of progress. I have real friends who I am real with. But despite the progress, fake smiles and misdirection still steal in.
Asking for But still, needing any kind of help feels like a simultaneous punch in the gut and panic attack.
With those I don’t know well, and even some I do, there’s a constant loop in my mind in every interaction:
“Smile. Put them at ease. Reassure them. Calm them down. Say what they need to hear. Laugh. Be positive. Don’t accept help. Minimize. Deflect attention. Circle back to them. Repeat.”
When I do this, Narcissists LOVE me, but my soul kinda hates me.
‘Nice’ is boring and invisible and safe. As long as you never need anything. Oh. Wait. Invisible isn’t good all of the time. Smiles can be lies. The kind of lies that hurt. Sometimes it is ok to say,
“I AM NOT OK.”
2015 was the year that drove this lesson home. This has been a year of saying, not so loud and proud, I can’t do it alone. I need help. This is all just too much for me.
A wise person once explained it to me like this, “We all start out as children. We need to receive. Just to live. We need love and food and safety and play. Then we grow a little older. We become aware that we are not the only one in the world. We want to GIVE. So we do. We give and give and give and give. Until one day, a little wiser, we realize that the biggest gift is in welcoming both. Receiving and giving are two sides of the same coin. Our highest selves know this.”
So, if you are struggling right now and you are the sort that always is lending a hand, do me a favor. Reach out and take a hand. That’s a way of giving too.
There’s another church that’s fucked me up pretty bad. The Church of Positivity.
This book has a different cover, but both canonize some pretty harmful, superstitious bullshit that doesn’t work very well in the real world. This stuff is just as bat-shit crazy, fake, and wounding as the first one.
The dangerous underlying message of both is this:
1. Be happy all of the time.
2. If you aren’t happy all of the time, you are a sinner/attracting bad energy.
3. If all of your dreams haven’t come true, you are not praying enough/believing in the love of the universe enough.
4. That other person over there, they don’t have what they want because they are sinners/not as actualized as you are.
5. If you hang out with them, you’ll be tainted by their sin/bad energy.
Now I love self-help as much as (or like a million times more than) your average potty-mouthed aspiring online entrepreneur. And delusions are a serious part of my love affair. But I also love reality.
So I’ll propose some Rules of Positivity and of Faking It that work a little better for me.
RULES OF POSITIVITY
1. If something sucks, admit that it sucks. Don’t wallow in it all day and keep a list of the shitty stuff that happened to you and throw the pity part of the century. But don’t deny, either. Just admit it. Say, “This sucks. A lot.”
2. If something is amazing, also admit that it is amazing. Don’t pretend everything is always amazing or worry that it will just suck again. Enjoy the amazingness.
3. Accept that you are not going to be happy all of the time. This means you are alive and not manic. That’s a good thing.
4. Talk about the bad things. This is the one that gets me every time. When I talk about the bad things, I have to a. admit things are bad, and then b. feel the badness. Which inevitably leads to c. more intense bad feelings and lots of tears and vulnerability, but then to d. a feeling of relief and an understanding that, though things are bad, it’s ok. And usually some great connection with the people I love.
5. Accept that you are not going to be bad all of the time. That’s the nature of feelings. They ALWAYS change.
6. If things aren’t going your way, go easy on yourself. What’s that you’re saying inside of your head? Would you say that to someone else?
7. Act. Take action. Do something. Do anything. You are not god and you do not control the universe. But you can learn to control your responses, your mindset, your reaction, and your story about the world. In an honest way.
8. You can’t always get what you want. But eventually, if you are patient and kind to yourself, you can want what you get.
To sum up: Be real. Be honest. Especially with yourself. Do you like it when you meet a fake person? Don’t be that person.
Naomi’s RULE of FAKING IT:
But, you may ask. When CAN I fake it and not wound my soul? Here’s a time when Faking It is a-ok:
You are totally allowed to “fake it till you make it”, when that means putting on a confident persona and giving yourself a pep talk when facing a new and exciting challenge.
Faking It is NOT OK when you are not ok and you are not going to be ok unless some shit changes on a deep level. Inside or outside of yourself.
You are not allowed to fake being ok when you are not ok. This delays healing, prolongs misery, makes you a liar (most importantly to YOURSELF!) and stalls your re-entry into the human race where you are needed. Even broken. Even unhappy. Even imperfect.
This includes pretending you are ok when you receive devastating news, lose your health, are overcome by grief from break-up or death, find yourself in that place you never thought you would see again, or any other scenario where “Faking It” really means diving head first into a solo shit spiral that ends with you wearing the same reeking PJs six days in a row, subsisting on junk food you find when you rummage through the dregs of your cupboard so you don’t have to face the grocery store, and planning your inevitable demise 10 different ways.
FAKING that you are ok DOES NOT EQUAL being a nice person. Or a godly person. Or an enlightened, modern-day reincarnation of Buddha.
PRETENDING that everything is alright when it is most definitely not is a good way to lose trust in yourself, get stuck in downward suck of depression, and lose your way.
And no one wants that for you. Reach out. Lean. Take a little. That’s as much a reason why you’re here as anything else.
P.S. Do you have trouble being real about what you need? Let me know in the comments. <3