Friday, September 28, 2007

Out of Character

Last night, I attended the first of five sessions of a class that deals with the teachings of The Secret. I joined this class for a few reasons. First of all, the class is being held within a two minute walk from my house and I like the idea of taking advantage of something local. Another reason is that I have recently read The Secret, and quite liked the message. I can't say that I bought into every aspect of it, but even if thinking positively about a million dollars does not actually cause a million dollars to land in my lap, I still believe in the power of positive thinking, and know that life would be more enjoyable if I never sat around wallowing in misery. Not that I actually wallow around in misery, but sometimes I do hover on the brink of mild depression, although not very often. I also enrolled in the class as a means of having something in common with my dad. He and I have an ok relationship, but the greatest part of his identity encompasses these teachings, and I have always told him not to bother me with this stuff. He has been practicing such methods for over 30 years, and it has always seemed quite "out there" for me. I know that my participation will please him.

Having an interest in something like this is not very typical of me. I am a practical person, and do not believe that I am "searching" for something, or that I need more fulfillment in my life. I have a very even temperament, and do not show a lot of emotion in most situations. I do laugh a lot, and I do cry sometimes, but mostly I am calm and collected. I am not a cold person, but I don't get overly excited, or react particularly passionately to all the ongoings around me. In keeping with my usual self, I went into the class with the same attitude that would take to a biology class. I don't need this information, but it couldn't hurt to know it. My first impression of the instructor and classmates was that they were flaky. I perceived them as people who are looking for life changes, and looking for new age solutions. I did not identify myself with them at all. I have to admit, although I consider myself to be a kind and tolerant person, I am prone to "lovingly" making fun of people, and that is where I was going in my head as I sat in the room, watching everyone be moved by the instructor. Don't get me wrong, I do buy into most of the message, but I'm not going to be all "Praise the Universe" about it.

In part of the discussion, the instructor talked about disease, and asserted that at the root of all illness, you will find unforgive-ness. By this she meant that holding on to negative feelings about someone will make you physically ill. I challenged this by bringing up the fact that my friend's friend's daughter just died from a brain tumour. She was only three years old. I asked how it could be at all possible that such a young child could harbour enough negative energy to make herself so ill. As with any religion that I have encountered, the reply was that it is not possible to know what her contract with the universe was. This is the same as saying, "we cannot know or understand God's methods". It is kind of a non-answer, if you ask me, but I wasn't going to push it further. The instructor, however, wanted to keep talking about it as part of her lesson on how to think about the little girl's death in a way that does not bring only sadness, but to help to celebrate her life and acknowledge the love that her family will always carry around for her. I will mention again that the little girl is my friend's friend's daughter. I barely know the friend's friend, and didn't know her daughter at all. I couldn't even tell the class what her name was, as I don't think I ever knew it. I have done my best not to think about this subject too much because as the mother of a two year old girl, I find it too horrific to fathom. I cannot think of anything worse than losing my daughter, and I don't want to make myself crazy by imagining and worrying about the possibility. I hide my head in the sand a lot when it comes to upsetting news that I am helpless to do anything about. I used to think that this made me socially irresponsible, but now I believe it is just what I need to do to function every day. The problem for me was that while the instructor continued to discuss this little girl, and ask me questions about her, I became upset. I became upset enough that I started to cry. I cried in front of absolute strangers. One girl started rubbing my back while I cried. A stranger who I perceived to be the "flakiest" of the bunch was rubbing my back, consoling me while I grieved for a family that I barely even know. The instructor tried to help me through this by suggesting how to handle death. Focusing on me made me cry even harder. I went from being the practical, I'm-not-like-the-rest-of-you, skeptic of the group to being the biggest emotional wreck. Worse than the girl who was there to get over her recently, broken heart. Worse than the two people who were there to get over deaths in their own families. The instructor tried to cheer me up by telling me that there is often crying in her classes because of the personal nature of the subject matter, and that I was just starting the group off. That is sooooo not me.

I know it is ok to cry. It just isn't something I like doing, especially publicly. I never cry around my own friends and family, and really hate the idea of doing it. I would say that my friends have only seen me cry once, relating to what seemed like a major crisis about seven years ago, which was probably the last time I cried in front of my mom too. I have always liked the shit-together reputation that I have among the people who know me, but I am starting to think that I have boxed myself into it, and it is starting to get uncomfortable.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like it. My girlfriend sounds a lot like you, a stoic but on the inside she's not different than me, a quivering mass of jelly. And me, I'll cry at the drop of a hat.

It's a good thing to take a second look at how we deal with things, from time to time.

motherbumper said...

Excellent post. I would have asked the exact same question in that group (or anything like it). Personally, I'm like you and not overly demonstrative with my emotions - but sometimes they just got to spill. Otherwise it does get too uncomfortable.

btw - Nice to meet you today ;)

nomotherearth said...

You never know when something is going to hit you hard. Doesn't mean that you're flaky or that you don't have your shit together.

Nice to meet you in person!

petite gourmand said...

I found you through HBM- it's so great what you guys all did on the weekend.
great cause.

this "class" sounds interesting.
It sounds like it really struck a chord with you.
it probably felt good to let it out.

I think I might pick up a copy of the book.