Sunday, February 15, 2004

Ode to Saint Valentine

Saint Valentine. I had often wondered who this person was and why we celebrated this day. What did he do for love that deserved a whole day of commemoration?

The story of Saint Valentine is a fairly simple story, more simple than I had ever imagined. It took place in Rome under the rule of the emperor Claudius. Claudius needed more men in his army, and he thought that the reason that the men were not volunteering was because they did not want to leave their wives and families. So he outlawed marriage. Saint Valentine was a minister, and he did not agree with this law so he continued to perform marriages. It was this that got him executed on February 14, 269 A.D.

The man for whom this day was named was never in love at all. He did not die for his love, he did not sacrifice greatly to express his love for another, he definitely did not buy candies and flowers for anyone. He died because he believed in love.

I do not celebrate Valentine's Day, whether I have someone to celebrate it with or not. I think it's ingenuine, insincere and forced. I feel that love should be spontaneous, and the essence of romance is found within that spontaneity. So how do I reconcile the fearless heroism of Saint Valentine with my feelings about his day?

I spent the night with girlfriends. Surrounded by laughter and support, chocolate and wine, giggles and hugs. The night was not without the discussion of loves - past, present, future and those that are undeniably somewhere in-between. So many people wallow on this day. They choose it as a day of mourning and of self-deprecation. A day to cry over their singleness and the reasons therein. There is nothing wrong with being single. There is something completely natural and comfortable about being independently on your own. I am proud to be single, and I am proud of my single friends. We are strong enough to be on our own. We find happiness in ourselves and in each other. We do not need to cling to something that is ingenuine, insincere or unromantic. I find something fearless and heroic about that.

It is not that I don't believe in love or marriage. It is that I believe in it so fiercely that I cannot tolerate anything less than true romance. Saint Valentine did not die so that teenagers could lose their virginities or so that Hallmark could make a few million dollars. Nor did he die so that those who are afraid to be alone could have an excuse to find someone to hold onto. He died for real, true, God-blessed love. And when that day comes, that truly will be something to celebrate. But until then, I'll celebrate myself. I'm having a lot of fun trying to figure me out.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Pretty Enough for Me

Am I not pretty enough?
Is my heart too broken?
Do I cry too much?
Am I too outspoken?
Don’t I make you laugh?
Should I try it harder
Why do you see right through me?

I live, I breathe, I let it rain on me
I sleep, I wake, I try hard not to break
I crave, I love, I’ve waited long enough
I try as hard as I can

I laugh, I feel, I make believe it’s real
I fall, I freeze, I pray down on my knees
I hope, I stand, I take it like a man
I try as hard as I can

Am I not pretty enough?
Is my heart too broken?
Do I cry too much?
Am I too outspoken?
Don’t I make you laugh
Should I try it harder
Why do you see right through me?

- Kasey Chambers

The first time I heard that song I felt the lyrics were already so familiar that I could almost sing along. I knew them instantly by heart as though they had been written on mine for years. And it's true. Sometimes we all go through periods of self-doubt, where insecurities reign and self-confidence has been chased away. Whether you're a man or a woman, you've definitely had an experience (usually a heartbreak) that left you wondering if you somehow just weren't enough.

I like that she says "I try as hard as I can" because that's all that you can say when your thoughts are cloudy with questioning. You know you tried as hard as you could, but you still wonder what you could have (or should have) done differently. You wonder if you were a little better or a little prettier, would things be different?

I find myself caught up in thoughts like those sometimes. They feel like cyclones, spinning you out of control until you feel far away from who you are.

The harsh thing is that it's true. Sometimes you aren't pretty enough or smart enough or strong enough. Sometimes being you isn't enough.

When you break up with someone, it's not always because of outside circumstances. Sometimes it's about the guy. Sometimes he's just not enough for you, just not what you're looking for or what you want. And that's okay. Sometimes someone doesn't want to be with you because they just don't want you. It might mean that you aren't enough for them, but it never means you aren't enough for someone else or that you aren't enough for yourself.

That's the important thing to remember. In the midst of the doubting, the questioning, the self-deprecation. You have to hold onto yourself and what you know of you. You have to hold onto who you are and what you want. And you have to hold it up. I may not be pretty enough for him right now, but I'm happy with me so it's ok if I'm not what he wants.

I listen to that song every now and then, and sometimes the words still sting. But I always know that no matter what, whether he wants me or not, I'm good enough for me and content with myself so that's all that matters and all I need.

Friday, February 6, 2004

Looking In

I feel sometimes so conflicted, not knowing whether I want to scream or cry or laugh or just sit and listen. There's a swarm of bumble bees inside of me, teasing me, taunting me, buzzing about, darting around with me not knowing what the next move will be.

I have felt the bees recently. I don't know what their buzzing says. I don't know what they're trying to tell me or what they want to do to me next. I only know that I need an escape. I need to get out somehow. Out of myself, out of my head, out of my life and I need to go somewhere new.

People sometimes use that expression, "I'm beside myself." I don't know what that means. To be beside oneself. I wish I could be beside myself every once in awhile if only to get an outside perspective on things.

I can't explain what's happening inside of me or what brings it about. Heartbreak? Loneliness? Just the stale feeling of living every day? Some thing, any thing, every thing. Maybe every little one of those pesky bees represents one of those. I don't know. I know he's a jerk to lie to me, but I don't even know how I feel about that - angry, sad, confused?

But today. Today I hushed all the noises, all the motion and the fury. I silenced it all for a moment and heard a voice from somewhere deep inside of me. Some small part of me that has been buried with all the burdens I've brought upon myself.

It said, "No matter what, someday, you will smile again." It had such a soothing voice, so comforting and soft, like an angel I had with me all along that I allowed to be bullied into a corner. I wanted to hear it again. I ignored the negativity, the nay-saying, the buzzing, I pushed it all aside and listened. "It's not about getting out. What you really need is to get in."

I always try to ignore my problems, escape whatever I don't want to be confronted with, by running. Running into someone's arms. Running into another city, another place to be the location of this chaos within.

Tonight, before the voice, I thought about escaping by myself this weekend to a private beach getaway. I thought, "What I need to cleanse myself from all of this mess is the sound of the ocean." I decided I would book myself into the Holiday Inn somewhere not far from here and somewhere on the ocean.

But running away to the beach for the weekend would do nothing when I just had to return to what I left behind, what I postponed, procrastinated dealing with. It's absurd. I need to look in and find my cleansing there. But I will start with a smile. : )

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