I have a tendency to run. I have a tendency to be non-confrontational to the point of self-destruction. I have a tendency to store up little hurts, like a bird picking up bits of tall grass, small sticks and debris. I have done it all too often. I have built a little nest of pain and heartache to fly away to when times get tough and nurse my wounds.
In short, my attempts to avoid the small everyday confrontations that inevitably arise in relating to other human beings has historically caused me and others a lot of pain. As time goes by, passive aggressive little comments begin to slip from my mouth, directly referencing wounds people didn’t know they had inflicted. Then once I have spent days, months or years avoiding the little battles it takes to maintain a relationship, I am ready for nuclear war. I have hurt family members and friends this way. And it was probably one of my biggest contributions to the dissolution of nearly 13 year marriage.
I don’t want to be this way anymore. I don’t want to wallow in the self-defeating shame of the wounds I have inflicted. I don’t want to cry another tear over bridges burnt that I simply cannot reconstruct. But more than anything, I don’t want to spend another minute of my life, in mourning over futures not yet written. I don’t want to imagine tense conversations that I haven’t had the courage to actually have, until I am more angry over the things I think people will say, the responsibility I have convinced myself they will negate and I am more angry and hurt about things unsaid than the actual wounds that sent me running for my little safe haven, where in fact no one is safe.
I didn’t just realize these things about myself when I woke up this morning. I have been cognizant of these character flaws for some time. I have been actively working to be different, more loving, and more honest with myself and those I love. Amanda Jean has been for good for me in this respect. Fucking great in fact! She leans into the difficult conversations. She calls me out when she sees me trying to run from conflict and pain. I love her for it! Daily, she helps me see the vision of the man I have always wanted to be and gently pushes me to live into that vision.
But in the end, it is “self-work” that only I can do. I must commit and recommit to living an honest, open life, to exposing my pain, confronting the little wounds of family, friendship and love head on. Like those altar calls of my youth, where I rededicated myself to Jesus again and again. Accept this time around no guilt and no fear. I am no longer trying to escape the flames of hell. I am trying to extinguish the flames of hell within and do my part to create a little more heaven on earth.
Again, I am dust and to dust I will return. I am tempted to take the more melodramatic turn of a phrase and say I’ll let my little nest of pain burn. Maybe that would be more poetic. Or maybe the true poetry is in the slow and painful change of lessons learned the hard way. I have tasted enough flames for two lifetimes. I’d rather deconstruct my little nest one small piece at a time and build a house of love in its place.