Sunday evenings, (not) reliving my twenties, excuses

by Rachel Creager Ireland

There’s a show that keeps coming on HBO whenever I want to watch Trueblood. It’s called Girls. It’s about twentysomething urban women who obsess about their problems and feelings. Every time I turn it on, the lead is speculating about who gave her HPV. You might think that would be right up my alley, but it turns out that reliving my twenties is about the last thing I want to do in the evening when I’ve given up on doing anything useful with the day, and am ready to zone out and enjoy a good story.

I guess the story of my twenties isn’t one I relish. I’ve changed it repeatedly, and the most recent version involves a lot of self-medication, fear of commitment and responsibility, and unconscious rage. I’m in the process of rewriting it again, but I haven’t decided what I want it to be.

There’s a photo that’s been going around Facebook of a man without arms, standing on one foot and holding a paintbrush between the toes of the other foot, painting a wall with extraordinarily fine detail. The caption of the picture is something like, “Whatever your excuse is, it’s time to give it up.” I didn’t get worked up about it because, honestly, I spend many of my waking and sleeping moments looking for those excuses, and trying to root them out of my psyche. If you had shown me that picture when I was twenty-six, how would I have reacted? Well, I think my first thought would have been, yeah, he can do whatever he wants, no one expects anything of him, he probably has no responsibilities. Then I probably would have covered that by going into a rant about how some excuses might actually be valid in a fucked-up world in which most of the power and wealth are held in the hands of a tiny percentage of people in the world, who wield it without care for the consequences to everyone else. What’s their excuse? I might have asked if the painter was a meat-eater, and, if so, what was his excuse for that. You can see how the first reaction, especially, says much more about me and my state of mind than about the people I went on to rant about. It wasn’t until along about the time my second decade was rolling over into my third that I finally began to understand how the walls that held me back were all in my mind, and that I, and only I, had the power to remove them.

What would I tell the women of Girls? I might start with healing.  Rosalyn Bruyere conceptualizes the whole person as a circle, divided into four quarters. Each quarter is associated with a part of the whole person: the physical, the mental, the emotional, the spiritual. In order for there to be healing, it must take place in at least two of these four quarters. Notice we don’t necessarily have to address all four at a particular time; we get off easy. Two are enough. So treat the physical manifestation of your disease, but don’t stop there. Go on and ask yourself,  what thoughts am I holding about this condition? What feelings does it evoke? What does this tell me about what it is to be human, and my relationship with the rest of the universe? Pick the answer that surprises you most, and explore that.

When will there be a TV show about healing and freeing oneself from the self-perpetuated lie of sickness, powerlessness, and victimization? Tell me when you find one. Till then, leave me alone on Sunday evening, there’s a funny vampire story I can zone out to.

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