Brokenness and Presence

I am meditating on brokenness today.

Mostly, I am not feeling so broken myself these days. This is a nice change of pace. I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself whole and thriving and totally peachy keen, but I’m honestly well. I am tired, because I have two jobs now, in addition to my volunteer work and my life, but I find that working with my hands is feeding me. I am calm, and I believe my life is okay and heading places I want it to go.

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Blogging is hard for me sometimes, because I have not always been okay. I have been so broken that I ran the risk of metaphorically cutting myself – and worse! others – on all my jagged edges. I started a blog because I love to write, because I was so interested in the warm & loving communities I encountered on this Internet, and because I believe I have insights and articulations worth sharing with others. I have a thoroughly developed self-censor. I didn’t mean for this blog to be therapy, and I am aware of an audience’s interests. I didn’t (and still don’t) want to inappropriately burden others, especially strangers, with my wild emotions. If every post I wrote was “Today was wretched, and I am so hurt and lonely, and I am afraid that I have failed in life and that things will never get better,” well, it may have been authentic, but I was pretty sure it wouldn’t have done much good for my readers.

This morning, I am reconsidering.

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A lot has been said about The Facebook Effect, the curious way we all feel worse about ourselves in the midst of all the happy posts and photos and life achievements of other people. My own personal Facebook experiences are a bear, and grist for another post of its own, but I think the problem is not the site, but what we expect of it. Facebook is a muddle of photo albums, the local newspaper’s announcement section, and the overheard conversation of someone across the street. It has functions by which we can communicate, but it’s not a community. It’s not supposed to be where we have our communication. From its earliest days, through all of its many variations, and even now (despite what it might try to tell you), Facebook is meant to be only a door, not a room. It is a way to get a glimpse of someone, to help you make the leap to build relationships, but it won’t sustain relationships on its own.

People have always struggled with loneliness, and fear, and isolation, and depression, and worry about all manner of things. When we genuinely encounter people, we encounter, sometimes by chance, their struggles right along with their joys.

photo credit to James Souder

photo credit to James Souder

 

The people in my Facebook pictures are some of my favorite people in the world. We have been through so much together, that whenever we meet up, it as though we have never been apart, and I say they are as dear to me as when we spent all of our time together.

I am devastated that they are so far away, and I fixate on that. I see pictures of what they do now, who they are with, when they see each other without me, and I am lonely. I am jealous of their success and popularity and joy, and then, when we meet up, I am surprised when I encounter their struggles. I realize how much I depend on Facebook and memories instead of phone calls and letters and actual human contact to sustain these friendships, and I see it is no wonder I am lonely.

I wonder this morning, who knows more of my brokenness, these people I claim as my dearest, or the coworkers I never see outside of work, the acquaintances at Mass who see me cry through the Gloria, the people I wouldn’t say I truly know, but who do happen to be around to experience the wholeness of my experience.

I think we as people need more opportunities to experience each others’ brokenness, not to wallow in it, but to see that it is universal. The more we see our dear people and our just-happen-to-be-there people as complex, struggling fighters, the less lonely our own brokenness will seem. This means we need to be better about finding ways to encounter the friends we have chosen, even though they are far, and actually being friends with the people we may not have chosen, but who have blessed us with these encounters.

In the meantime, I blog. Now that I am feeling less broken, I find I can articulate this yearning for community, for shared brokenness and awesomeness and somewhere-in-the-middleness. Please take my brokenness, and know that I am still okay, and that you probably will be too.

7 Quick Takes: Feast/Fast

Once again, I’m joining Jen.

(Rhyming make my life happier.  So do all of the 7 Quick Takes at Conversion Diary. So do readers who make it through my especially long quick takes.  Sorry for that.)

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Does anyone else have whiplash from this week?  I take my Mardi Gras & Paczki Day celebrations seriously, so Tuesday saw me eating delicious, fatty, sugary fruit-filled pastries and juicy hamburgers.  Well… one of each.  I’m kind of a lightweight.  But there was definitely junk food and definitely meat.  Party!

And then there was Ash Wednesday, and there wasn’t very much food at all.  With the start of Lent, I say goodbye to meat until Easter.  I might not be totally abstaining from it this year, but I will not be seeing much of it.

But then it was Thursday, St. Valentine’s Day!  I love Valentine’s Day, because I love lots of people.  I think we as a human race can always use an excuse to tell the people in our lives how much we value them.  So, for me, Valentine’s Day is not just about romance, but about family & friendship & the strangers you meet on the street & yourself.  So I celebrated in a variety of ways all week.

Now, it’s a Friday in Lent.  Like I said… this week gives me whiplash.

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I feel like that first take really works as two (you know, one take for feast & one for fast), so I’m skipping this one.

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next step- the zipper! *cue dramatic music*

next step- the zipper! *cue dramatic music*

I had planned to finish my dress in time to wear to my Valentine’s activities on Thursday night.  Then I ran out of thread.

So here’s another picture of a partly finished dress.  All it’s missing now is a zipper and a hem.  I’m a little nervous about the zipper, because more than one person with way more sewing experience than I laughed nervously when I told them that my “very easy” pattern had a zipper.

I have been warned to follow the directions very exactly and not to take any shortcuts even if someone else or the pattern itself tells me that it’s an option.

Follow me on Twitter to get every update in all their gritty glory.

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My boyfriend and I did spend some time yesterday devoted just to our relationship, and he did get me a real gift: an ironing board.

This sounds awful, in fact, so awful that he asked some of his female friends in advance if I would be legally obligated to beat him for getting me a household tool for Valentine’s Day.

What makes it actually delightful is the fact that the ironing board I have now is about 18 inches long, 3 inches high and barely padded.  It makes my sewing projects a literal pain as I hunch over it, ironing yards and yards of fabric, pressing seams & redoing it all 15 minutes later.  I had been complaining, and so my boyfriend got me a nicer one in order to help along my creative endeavors.

An ironing board to sew fun dresses is much nicer than an ironing board to do laundry.

Plus it has polka dots, which is just really cool.

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Of course, my boyfriend also got me a bouquet of tulips, my favorite flower.

big red bow and all! <3

big red bow and all! ❤

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Some friends of mine compete in a trivia competition every Thursday evening, and when I can, I join them.  Last night, the woman who runs the competition read a question that asked which “New England city” is known as “the city of brotherly love”.  Now, this is a really easy trivia question, but as we raced our answer in, I protested: Philadelphia is not in New England.

Some of my friends quibbled with my surety.  So I pitched the question on Facebook, especially asking the input of my Philly-area friends.

The comment thread in response to this post has evolved to discussing the names of regions across the whole US, with several friends & family members, none of whom know all of the others, chiming in.  It is making me so happy to read.  This kind of thing is why I love social media so much.

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It goes without saying that I love all of those people in the above take, and indeed, all of my friends and family, but I’m going to say it anyway:

I love you all, my family, my friends, and you, my readers.  Thank you for reading, for responding, and for making my days so much cheerier and so less lonely.

Happy Valentine’s Day, and a Blessed Lent.

Love,
Dill