Sunday, June 1, 2008

Expectation Postponed...

Expectation feels like pressure. Commendation feels like pressure. Love feels like pressure. Things that should feel good often don't. And it drives me crazy.

There is this odd thing that happens to me when I am given a compliment on something I do. My gut begins to gnaw on itself. My breathing becomes shallow. The smile on my face masks an innermost dread: if what I've done is good, you're going to expect me to repeat it, and soon, that won't be enough, you're gonna want more. And then what? Where will it end?

Perhaps it's a throwback from living under the thumb of a perfectionistic mother, a perfectionistic cult and a brain that is wired for sensitivity. As a Jehovah's Witness, there is no such thing as enough. It's always "More." Proselytize more. Attend the meetings more. Pray more. Study more. Meditate more.

I remember hearing so many of the "brothers" speak of the end of the world with such fervor and how important the preaching work was to save the "honest-hearted". This constant sense of urgency was born out in comments like "There will be plenty of time to rest in the New System (the next life). Now is the time to push forward." It's no surprise that one of the most common diagnoses amongst jw's is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. There was no time to rest. No time to be. It was all about the doing.

It took its toll on me. All of it. And I don't think I'll ever be "normal" again. If I ever was.

tall penguin


Rich Beckman said...

I don't pretend to understand how the jw background continues to effect you.

I can only say that my experience is the only person you EVER have to satisfy is yourself. If you are satisfied with whatever you are doing or with whatever you are, then the heck with everyone else.

Friendship is not about meeting expectations. It is about acceptance.

tall penguin said...

"Friendship is not about meeting expectations. It is about acceptance."

Thanks Rich. And for the first time in my life, I have these kinds of friends. But I still can't shake the feeling that I'm always supposed to be doing more.

My soul never seems to settle. Perhaps this is the "normal" impulse that drives all of us to evolve. Perhaps because of my past I just hear it a little louder than most, and become immobilized by it.

zensim said...

I believe there is a normal impulse that continues to move us to evolve. It is there in nature all the time, it is the source of life that courses through us constantly.

Just some of us are blessed (or cursed, depends on which way you want to look at it) to want to evolve much more rapidly. And we were put in with the slow growers and told we had to be like them, that was the truth of who we were.

But it wasn't the truth.

And now that we have broken free from the constraints and glimpsed who we truly are - boy do we want to make up for stunted growth! So we are accelerating, moving in leaps and bounds. Yet this feels wrong to, because it is not really our true nature either.

It will settle. It is settling. We are finding our own pace, our own effortless way of growing, rather than stop, start, hold back, burst forward. As we grow stronger and a bit more steadily, we are less and less blown around dramatically by the winds of life.

We are growing stronger and we are keen to remember also our flexibility. We drunk too deeply from freedom to want to lose that which we sought. I am just learning not to clutch so tightly to my freedom now, or to grasp too strenuously for it, because it really is here all the time when I just open my palm and relax :)

tall penguin said...

"And now that we have broken free from the constraints and glimpsed who we truly are - boy do we want to make up for stunted growth!"

Yes, I feel time ticking away. Now that there's no eternal life waiting just around the corner, I am acutely aware that my time on this planet is limited. And I want to do everything all at once. But then I get overwhelmed and end up doing nothing but curling up into a ball.

"We are finding our own pace, our own effortless way of growing, rather than stop, start, hold back, burst forward."

lol. You sound like you've been there before. Nice to have you on the crazy journey Sim. And a crazy journey it is.

matt said...

Even to this day I sometimes have a feel of urgency that I'm supposed to be doing something. Like a little demon in the back of my mind stating that I'm not doing what I promised I would.

But I am. I promised that I would use my brain. I promised that in all of this, I wouldn't follow the norms, sheep, or goats (whatever they are). I am still following that promise, a promise that was put to myself, the god in my mind. :)

Sometimes love does feel like pressure, as if it's something you are put into and expected to continue progressing even if your emotions change the way humans do. That's why dropping the L-word seems to mean so much. :)

I don't expect anything out of you -- all I realize is that you have the probable tendency to continue down a path of intellectual discovery, and to share yourself in the awesome way you do. You're not a drug, the only expectations you have are personally driven. Your reality is your own, anything outside of you is merely a distraction, listening to it is your own choice.

I do say these feelings come back to our fun cult. We want to think we're special yet humble, the seekers of truth, God's chosen. Perfection is an obvious requirement then.. Ugh.

I can't stand the crowds of sheep who only want to hear a mentioning of when the end will be. It saddens me that they won't live in the life they currently live in, for an untested, unproven life after a predictable death. *groan*
If only my parents could understand that.

It takes a toll on whoever has to suffer like this. And I'm glad you aren't normal. The experiences you have gave you the ability to be self-aware of many things people normally don't care about.

I sound like a broken record.