To those of you who don’t actually know me (uhh.. no one…), Corey is hubs. I try not to use his name because he is a shy sensitive type and because we’ve mutually decided that Corey is one of the top ten worst names. Not one you see next to Oliver and Angus on the ol’ “Most Popular Baby Names” list. But it’s okay. That’s why we have nicknames.
Today is the big birthday. You know, getting a little older, feeling exactly the same. I did allow myself a few seconds last night to fall deeply into a pit of black despair, but only long enough to think “wow. you really dont get time back”, and then I remembered I had peanut butter Puffins in the pantry and forgot all about what a creeper aging can be.
The truth about aging, I think, is that it’s all relative. As a person who sets goals, it is, of course, important to feel like I am achieving my goals at a fairly good clip. For me (and I’m not judging you), if I woke up this morning on a mattress in Southie and baby powdered my hair before heading out to man my mall cart, I may not be so inclined to wave goodbye to the year before. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though, I’m not winning any Pulitzers. What I’m getting at is a little thing called perspective. I’m doing all right for my age. I’m potty trained, self-aware, and pretend to exercise at least three days a week.
The dark underbelly of my progress is my penchant for hating myself. I have actually always liked hating myself. The richest, most buttery delicious humor is that which is true, and I’ve always found a warm fuzzy place for myself in the world of self-hatred. When in doubt, make a joke about what a fat kid you are and suddenly everyone loves you. I’ve said it before, but seriously, people LOVE to know that they are better than (ie thinner than) at least one person in their presence. It keeps us going.) Which is why, when the clock struck midnight on my new year, there I was, reading about my “Trance of Unworthiness” and how to open my life to the light of the Buddha. Fucking save me.
It all started when a very dear, and very honest, friend admitted to me that perhaps, just maybe, on occasion, my personality didn’t welcome people in with open and embracing arms. (So I’m not a hugger…) I was okay with it until I thought about how selfish it is to go through life expecting people to exist in the space that I have allowed for them. (Which explains why I have nothing to offer Stuart the family cat. I’m out of fucking compartments… and I’m not going to waste one on a cat… who cries… when he has food… and water… and one of those cage balls with the bell inside…) So I spent some time reflecting on the iCaroline, and even though I concluded that I’m a pretty fine person as is, I also decided that maybe I just dont know what I’m missing… thus I ended up in the self help aisle.
I decided immediately that I would be avoiding Christian ministries of any kind. The last thing I need, especially on top of all this birthday nonsense, is to wakeup and realize I want to be a Christian. Not only would it go against everything I believe (or don’t), it’s time consuming and expensive. The Sunday clothes alone would cost thousands. (Though I did think I was going to be a Christian when I first moved to Boston. We have some really lovely churches.) I was going the path of Eastern religion/philosophy or no path at all.
Being a yogi, I felt a kinship to the Eastern religion aisle anyway. I thought about a book on the 14th, but then I thought it would only give me greater struggles. I dont think it’s smart to start comparing yourself to His Holiness right out of the gate. Especially when you’re feeling raw and fragile.
I decided to start with books that made it on the NYT best seller list. My theory is that the reason that they make it there is because all those single cat-loving crazy women have a secret group that sends out emails about when these sorts of books come out. They shoot to the top of the best sellers list immediately because a whole legion of lonely women buy the book at the exact same time. Now, that doesnt give merit to the content, but it at least means that someone, somewhere, was able to get through it.
I started a stack for myself and decided that when the hubs was done fannying about with the architecture books I would run a few by him. He has a low threshold for BS and I thought he could help me separate the real, helpful shit from the nonsense.
By the time he arrived I had two or three picked out. I showed him the titles and asked him if he thought they would help me.
“Um. Maybe. More than likely it will serve as a how-to for more and more ways that you can hate yourself.”
Hubs. What. The Fuck. Is wrong. With YOU?
I’m standing in the self help aisle. I am PUBLICLY crying out for help and guidance. Do you REALLY want to start something right here? Right now? IN THE SELF HELP AISLE? Seriously?
My Buddha light wasn’t shining on shit. It was become a dim shadow of hatred and anger.
And then I read the title, “Radical Acceptance.”
And I decided to let him live. After all, clearly he was naive. The book had just helped me– helped him, really. I didn’t need his advice. I needed the book.