Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Rotten

There is no doubt that I am an awful person. I have seen this all the more clearly now that I have a toddler. I mean, one cannot yell at a baby, it's just a baby. But a toddler who is constantly in to everything and who willfully poops in her pants and tries to cut her brother with playdough scissors...well, now that just sounds funny, but I was angry earlier. I have a very low threshold for crying. When those two babies start wailing, my tolerance for my daughter goes down to nothing. I become this awful, yelling monster. I am angry at the step stool for being in my way, even if I put it there. Screaming just really makes me lose my shit. And when I can actually remain calm throughout the day, my husband gets the brunt of all that pent up frustration in the form of ridiculous complaints about what he is doing, like taking out the trash...I mean, how dare he not read my mind and feed a baby instead of doing any other thing that needs to be done. I am utterly and completely absurd.


The other morning I was in this Red Zone where I was at the complete base of myself. I had to apologize to Maya for being a complete bitch. I was so angry at Marco I could hardly see straight. He was flying, and I couldn't reach him. This did not stop me from calling him 30 times (no exaggeration) and texting him the following series of messages:


Not a good morning.
Please come home NOW!
Everyone is crying.
You are NEVER allowed to do this to me again when there is a crying baby.
You have 29 minutes.
You said you'd be home by 10.
I am really starting to get mad.
You are NEVER flying again.
I cannot believe you are still flying. Now you won't be home until after 11.

I always feel that I am completely justified in my anger. At the time, in that Red Zone of anger and hostility, I can see no other response other than the one I am giving. Well, that's not true. I know there is an alternative. But I choose to stay there, in my anger and frustration. I choose. It doesn't feel like a choice because of the circumstances that led me there. I can hear the voice in my head saying, "The babies are screaming, so it's okay that you're frustrated. You're only human." But I know. I know I'm not supposed to act that way. I know. And sometimes I am able to back up mentally and witness the scene, to see myself shouting and huffing and puffing. I can see myself angrily shoving the footstool across the floor. I hear myself treating Maya with disrespect, speaking in a tone I wouldn't use with anyone else because they would yell right back at me. It's absolutely ugly. It's ugly and mean and just plain wrong.

And that's not the only way I suck, but that is a major area for me. I am a VERY poor example of how to deal with anger and frustration. And I am the example. I'm not parenting - I'm modeling. I can say all I want and get Maya to take deep breaths and put her in time out, but what she's learning is almost completely based on my example. Crap.

Now, I have grown so much in recent years. I am unrecognizable to who I was in high school and college. I feel liberated from most of the food and body issues that crippled me for many years. I feel strong and confident and comfortable in my own skin (most of the time). I feel capable and smart and even organized (hard for old roomies to believe, I know). I even feel wise sometimes. At least I see glimmers of it. But put into stressful circumstances, and I am a fit-pitching toddler. All of my centeredness goes completely out the window. My focus narrows to the immediate.

So, we've established that I am, indeed, a rotten human being. Maybe the rottenest. The question is, at my core, am I the rot or am I the observer?

Christians would say that I am the rot and that rottenness separates me from God. Thus, I am in need of salvation and forgiveness in order to be in God's holy presence. And the only way to get that forgiveness is to believe that Jesus died for my rotten self and rose again and paid the price (death) that is required by God. Did I get that right?

But I don't get it. Sure, I feel badly about my horrific choices. I'm not saying anyone else is to blame. I am not justifying my behavior in any way. I am completely, awfully wrong. There is absolutely no question about the rot. However, it seems to me that this is the very nature of being human. We're all born this way. But am I deserving of hell and damnation because I am human? Is God really going to send MOST of humanity to the pits of hell to burn for all eternity because we were born imperfect? It just doesn't make any sense to me.

Here's what makes more sense to me and feels like truth. I think we all have spirit or God or essential nature within us that is separate from the rot. I think my real self is the observer of all the madness. My true spiritual self is the one who knows what I'm doing is wrong. I am the one who wants to change. I don't think that good works are somehow going to get me ahead or into heaven. I think being aware and living in that awareness and tapping into that love that already exists IS heaven. I don't know what will happen after this life. No one does. It doesn't really matter, does it? I think that Jesus meant living life in the spirit is what we're aiming for. He said, "I am the way the truth and the life...If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well." (John 14) He was a living example of being in that place of awareness, of tapping into the spirit. We all have access to it. Even if you believe in Jesus as God's son and as the way to salvation...I still think it's pretty clear that he didn't mean to just stop there. The whole idea is to live in that spirit here and now.

I'd really like to have some sort of faith. I'd really like to have a concrete set of beliefs to base my life on and meet with others to discuss. I still love reading what Jesus had to say. I think there are a lot of great things there. I think he got it. I just don't believe that the salvation comes from the outside in. I just don't believe that God is going to exclude most of humanity from his spirit. I don't believe in the Bible or any other written text (most of which I have not read, I'll admit) as the inherent word of God at the exclusion of all else. I wish there were some place to gather together to discuss these things that was not church or temple or mosque. I'd like to do a book club of many spiritual books. I do want to learn. I do want to grow. I do want to understand. I certainly don't want to stay in my rot and ruin my life and the lives of those I love because I'm so stinking awful. Any suggestions??

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think you are at a place where you can begin to move forward. No one is able to improve anything, if they cannot admit there is a problem. But just knowing there is a problem is not going to make things change either. Maybe at those moments of insanity it is about reaching out and asking for help...asking God's spirit to help you and give you back perspective. He says that He will generously give wisdom to anyone who asks. I hope you will find the answers you are looking for, and I hope you know that you are not alone. We all have those moments of regret for modeling behavior that we really don't want in our children, and we all have moments where we see ourselves reacting in ways we shouldn't.

Anonymous said...

You are not a monster, you are a MOM, Abrave mom i must said,who actually admits what we all moms feel.

kc said...

There's a lot I'd like to respond to here. Your candor is refreshing and please know you have friends who also sometimes struggle with all of this. I think you'd really like Frederick Buechner---let me know if you'd like me to send you some of his stuff. I'll leave you with a quote of his. Love you, Heather (pronounced HEADER)!

"I am a part-time novelist who happens also to be a part-time Christian…when certain things seem real and important to me and the rest of the time not Christian in any sense that I can believe matters much to Christ or anybody else. Any Christian who is not a hero, Léon Bloy wrote, is a pig, which is a harder way of saying the same thing. From time to time I find a kind of heroism momentarily possible—a seeing, doing, telling of Christly truth—but most of the time I am indistinguishable from the rest of the herd that jostles and snuffles at the great trough of life. Part-time novelist, Christian, pig." -- Frederick Buechner

Kim said...

Heather, I'm a friend of Adam's and I am soooooo glad that his FB comment brought me to your blog. I too am a mother of a 2 1/2 boy and a 1 1/2 girl. I too come from a strict Christian and Latin Catholic background (divorce splits everything in life, doesn't it). I too am rotten. I too see myself and ask WTF.

Just yesterday I have resolved not to yell for at least 24 hours by telling the children, "if you cry and there is no oowie, you will go to your room." No warnings, no counting to 3, no next time that's it...just picked them up and took them to their room. Of course there was more screaming, but after the first few times it became the only thing I had to say....say not yell. It worked for one day and I dont know if it will work for the next....but I think creativity is the only thing mothers of youngins have to keep going...otherwise the rut of rotteness is our plight.

I very much agree with your spiritual reflections and I have also explored the surface of many spiritual perspectives. I would LOVE the opportunity to join a group of hard working mothers reading, sharing, discussing, blogging about daily frustrations of damnation and spirituality.

Please keep me in your thoughts and remember YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

Island Girl said...

Your post is really normal and human. I can identify with the raging emotions when exhausted and/or stressed out.

I'm a missionary kid as you are and your thoughts about God resonated with a lot of my struggles in the past years. I came to a place several years ago where I told God that I wasn't sure he was worth following. After all, it's his fault that my parents trapsed (spelling?) around the globe... that I had to say goodbye to all my friends every year or two or three... had to say goodbye to all my extended family...never had a real home...never belonged...had to put on a happy face for alot of curious people ... feel like everything -even now- is temporary... don't feel like I can put down roots anywhere b/c nothing is forever ... and all this for what? I told him it was pretty rotten of him to require all this of me. It alters who I am today.

This post reminded me of that time in my life (not that long ago) and how he did literal miracles for me and turned my emotional/spiritual ASHES into beauty and my inner turmoil into peace. No human counselor (and I had a couple of them!) can work with your heart like Jesus can.

You can find this peace, too, in the person of Jesus... not from what other Christians say about him or model about him but in Jesus Himself as you observe in the book of Luke. Talk to him. Tell him. Let him talk back to you. He absolutely will.

Hugs from a fellow MK,
Kevin's Karen Seager

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