Among Angels

I just came from dinner with an old friend.  This friend is unique in the fact that he recently decided to become a Franciscan Friar.  I know little about the ins and outs of the Christian/Catholic religion, so I find my conversations with him more interesting than usual because my ignorance on the specifics of his lifestyle lead to a lot of questions which lead to a lot of in depth discussions.

One thing I found most fascinating was the concept of confession.  He was telling me that he actually had one indiscretion this year that he was worried might affect his standing in the Friarhood. However, apparently no one of importance noticed and once he went to confession he felt absolved of all guilt.

Really? It’s that easy???

I don’t mean that as an insult to the Catholic religion, I really don’t.  I just don’t understand how simply vocalizing your mistakes to the right person at the right time (in this instance, a man in a box) makes them go away.  Admit your guilt and all is absolved.  It’s that easy, apparently, because you are now “right with the lord” for having simply recognized your sins and you can now go on your merry way.   I really just can’t wrap my brain around the simplicity of it.

Don’t get me wrong: this all sure sounds nice.  More than nice, this sounds fantastic with the simplicity and straightforwardness of it all.  Maybe I should have been raised Catholic instead of Unitarian? Or maybe I am not entirely understanding the concept.

Regardless, I thought more about it on the drive home and continued to obsess over how relieving  and easy this process must be.  I conjured up my own memories that carried guilt and realized how much this emotion plagues me on a regular basis.  True, I have never done anything truly, severely, reprehensible.  I have never physically harmed anyone or done anything significantly illegal (more or less).  And I have never acted with malevolence or  intended malice.  But this doesn’t mean I don’t still feel immensely-sometimes overwhelmingly-guilty about the way I have acted in certain times in my life.

The truth is there are a large variety of instances I wish I could go back and change or memories that flat out make me cringe when I think of them and how I acted.  I have, on many occasion, gotten too drunk and acted extraordinarily (and often publicly) stupid or rude or made poor choices that not only endangered me, but sometimes others and my relationships with people.  I have slept with people I shouldn’t have; people who were otherwise attached or while I was otherwise attached.  I have, in moments of heightened emotions, spoken badly of others only to later wish I kept my mouth shut.  I have agreed to things I wish that I didn’t, because later I found it embarrassing or hurtful to others.  I have strung men along under the pretense of ‘giving the relationship a chance’ knowing that I had no real intention of sticking with them for the long term .  I have fallen in love with people and acted insane- ready to drop my entire life and move across continents.  I have bowed out of both platonic and romantic relationships, entirely ungracefully.  I have flat out lied, at times. I have judged people unfairly.  I have wished for negativity to be enacted on others.

I am not proud of any of this.  Sometimes the thoughts of things that I did bring a sense of shame and guilt so overwhelming it can bring me to tears.  How I wish I really believed in life how the Catholics do, and could have this burden so easily lifted from my shoulders by confessing all that I have done wrong!

But do I wish that?  Maybe the shame and the guilt and all of those negative emotions from all of the mistakes in your life is what propels you to be better.  I know in many of the instances that I feel most guilty about, there was little to no real, physical, ramifications; life has largely remained unchanged in the broader sense outside of my own head.  Without those negative emotions as consequences, perhaps I would not know better for next time?  Perhaps I would not have had the wherewithal and courage I needed to be in a healthy, functional romantic relationship.  Instead I would still be in relationship, after relationship, either without the fortitude to communicate what I am really feeling and thinking or still seeking out partners who are, in reality, unavailable and unobtainable (girlfriends, fake, long distance, commitment phobic etc).  Even more likely, I would probably still be drinking too heavily and making multiple horrifying choices and public displays of embarrassment each weekend, as I did for many, many months after my divorce.

Maybe, all of the guilt and negativity are simply now a part of me, like an appendage.  They are the pieces of armor, that keep me from getting hurt again and their heaviness, a reminder to do good in this world.  Do better. Do the best you can.

And maybe that’s not something I can get from any religion.  Maybe, I have become my own guardian angel, finding strength in my weakness. Perhaps, as a result of all this turmoil, I have become my own savior, guided by my guilt, creating my own shot at redemption.

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Office Space

Jobs, man.  Jobs are a funny thing. They are touted as both insignificant- “it’s *only* a job”– and yet, also, empirically difficult-“it wouldn’t be called work if it were easy“- all while also being told to “do what makes you happy”

Starting in early childhood we are asked the infamous: what do you want to do when you grow up?  Like that is even a fair or valid question at age 8, or even 18, since now at 29, I am still struggling with the answer.  Many of us (well myself at least), spent the better part of our young lives preparing for or careers; reaching for opportunities and education that would supposedly give us the foundations we need in the uphill battle of the ominous ‘job market’.

All our young adult lives, we work jobs that are just fillers until we get “there“- this predetermined destination that we marked on a mental map years ago, perhaps in filling out college applications or year book surveys.  Then, after years of hard work and schooling, we get these jobs that are supposed to be our ‘careers.’  And then…what?  Am I supposed to be satisfied doing the same thing every single day for the next thirty, plus, years?  Am I supposed to continue breaking my butt to move up within my field? At what point do I get to stop and enjoy the fruits of my labor?  Retirement?  What if I never get to retirement? What if I want to enjoy my life, now?

The fact of the matter is there is more to a job than just the paycheck and your most basic duties that might be listed on a job description or resume.  Working the typical nine to five/80 hour work week, we spend the better part of our lives at our jobs.  Unless you work independently from home, this means you are working side-by-side for this large expanse of time with a variety of people in what becomes a microcosm of our existence.  The conglomeration of diverse personalities, inevitably, lends itself to a variety of dynamics and relationships.  And after a while, you learn a certain slang or inside jokes that no one outside your office knows or can understand.  It can be strange when I really think about this.  Not even those closest to me- not my mother or my best friend or my boyfriend- have really any understanding of what my days normally look like or what it would mean if I asked about SIS or joked about moving my car [all inside information/jokes].   This small subset of people that I see day in and day out for most days of the year know more about me and are more on the same level of understanding than anyone else in my life.

This has been troubling me lately.  I have come to realize that my current job is, perhaps, not the best fit for me any longer.  It feels stale and the days are mind numbing.  When I do something out of the ordinary, like attend a meeting that I find stimulating, I am reminded of what it could be like to have a job that really ignites my passion or at least leaves me feeling accomplished and happy.  But it’s so hard to think of leaving the microcosm that is my job, that really, feels like home and my coworkers family.  These people have gotten me through some of the hardest times in my life, and continue to make me laugh and lift my spirits almost every single (week) day.

How do you weigh the benefits of working a job you love versus working with people you love.  There are so many great benefits to working this job-casual dress, flexible time, good pay and benefits, supportive leadership, stability, annual raises, and of course, most importantly great colleagues.  Would leaving all that be worth it for a job I find fulfilling?  That’s a mighty big risk to take, don’t you think?

I don’t know what I think. Not anymore.  I don’t know what to look for.  I don’t know what to wish or hope for. I just don’t know.  Jobs are a funny thing, man.

 

 

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Lately I keep having the same reoccurring thought: I want more.  More of what, I really don’t know. But there has to be more than this.  More than this life I am living, which now, seems ill fitting for who I am now and almost monotonous.   Which is funny considering all the getaways and vacations I have had in the last year.  How is such a crazy, busy life feel so mind numbing and empty sometimes?!

I know I avoid change, because it’s hard. And after the the massive life altering change that is divorce, you tend to have a little PTSD-esque scarring from change.  But maybe I need change now. Maybe it’s time to face some fears and find out what I really want out of this life…