Other Peoples’ Money

Several days ago, something went minorly wrong with something that I am responsible for. There are others who depend on this matter working well, but they are not financially responsible for it, whereas I am responsible to pay for it, if necessary. In the end, the people dependant on it spent a rather minute amount of effort to correct the issue for free and suggested that I spend my own money to solve it immediately. I took a bit of time to prepare, but when I addressed the problem, I solved it in literally several seconds with no real effort.

My initial response to this was anger. I felt that people were abundantly willing to spend my money with the slightest provocation, but hesitant to spend even so much as moderate effort to save me money. I made the assumption that this is because they do not respect my money. Or me, for that matter.

Response #1

It was easy to fume about this. Everyone I spoke to for the next while heard about my frustration, as well as knowing exactly the names of those who bothered me. This was a group of sins all at once. Anger, lack of forgiveness, and gossipping. I have tried to avoid these in this post, including avoiding making clear those who bothered me by speaking in very general terms. Gentle Readers, you may feel free to tell me if I failed in my attempt to do this.

A day later, whilst working my courier job, I had some trouble finding a free parking spot near the area that I would be picking up the item. I quickly jumped to the conclusion that I could spend a mere fifty cents on a parking meter and just charge my client for that extra cost. Soon enough I realized that I could park for free for an hour at a nearby parking garage. Here’s the thing: I was already planning on that for parking an hour later near the same spot for lunch with my mother. Apparently, I am far more willing to spend my client’s money than my own money for even the same thing.

Fortunately, I had this thought before wasting my client’s money. I parked for free at the nearby ramp. Yet, this had me thinking about my similarity to those who were willing to waste my money. They are not bad people any more than I am. I know I am a good, compassionate person, but I am apparently equally willing to waste my clients’ money as others are willing to waste mine.

Response #2

What do I do with this? I know not to shame myself over it. I’m not a bad person for this. Perhaps, what I need to do is be more forgiving of others that I perceive as wronging me. They are just as good as I am. Between all these events and this writing, someone pointed out to me that those who were willing to waste my money were paying for me to upkeep their system, so they may see it as spending indirectly their own money than mine.

Another way I intend to apply these events to my life is to take extra care to not waste others’ money. I now know that all people are more inclined to do that, including myself. Not to be self-righteous, but with this new information, I can live a better, more virtuous life. I am always looking to improve myself, so I’m glad for this opportunity to do so.

Reflections on Love

A couple posts ago, I mentioned my fear of hurting a significant other. I said this caused a lot of stress, now that I’m entering into a relationship. It comes as little surprise that I have already descended to my worst. That is, I used guilt to harm my girlfriend. Though I repented within seconds, the damage was done; she was very hurt, and also, I was quite ashamed.

So what to do in such a situation? First of all, I try not to do it again. In no way do I accept such behavior as OK. Beyond this, however, I must accept that as a mortal man, I will do things that are not OK. This doesn’t mean that I’m fine with these behaviors and don’t condemn bad actions as bad. It means that I have to love myself and others despite our imperfections.

This is a hard lesson to learn. It is my natural reaction to all vice to condemn not only the vice itself but also myself. I am tempted to argue that my experiences in Western Christianity (Think Augustine) led to this, but I have to admit that my tendency toward self hatred and shame has always been with me. Even as a toddler, I refused to speak until I was three years old, possibly because I was afraid to speak incorrectly.

My girlfriend showed me a podcast today that helped. The man interviewed shared many things about love, and I was reminded that part of love is the hardship of it. He said that while love stories are always about falling in love, the real love is what comes after this “falling”. To be fair, my girlfriend and I are still in the “falling in love” stage. We are still entirely infatuated and silly about it. Yet now, with this bit of conflict, we reached a bit of imperfection which will always be with us. In this imperfection, we begin to learn what resilience we have. We also learn how to improve on this resilience.

To be honest, this stuff is scary, but it’s good. Frequently, good things are not safe things. When I got my first full time job, I was terrified of it for multiple reasons. Much of my fear centered around the sort of stability required to work so many hours in a week. Yet I fought through it and now own a house and have met many wonderful people including my girlfriend. I learned myriad things about life and people. I’ve thought recently of starting a business centered around helping people get into and stay in recovery of mental illness. I intend to use my certification as a Peer Support Specialist to advance this business, if I do indeed create it.

I will never love anyone perfectly, but perhaps I can love people well. Perhaps I can do more good than harm. If I can do such a thing, then I am indeed blessed.

Refocusing

It seems rather obvious that before my last post, I had not posted in quite some time. The main reason for this is that I have been spending a lot of time rethinking my blog and what I wish to do with it.

I found that, over time, I seem to have established in my mind that I take the role of a teacher here. I am not sure this is wise. It seems a bit foolhardy for one to view himself as a great teacher. A friend of mine, who will be an ordained priest in a couple of months, seems to me to be a fantastic theologian, but when I asked him about his desire to contribute meaningfully to the theological dialogue of his Church, he wisely dismissed such notions as delusions of grandeur. If he contributes much, it will be not be from a stance of seeing himself as a great teacher. It will be from personal holiness and a perspective of humility. If he achieves those things, then perhaps God will bring forth from him something for the world to listen to.

I hope that I can teach some, but if I do this, it will be from a stance of humility. I am always learning. I want to share what I am learning from the perspective of an eternal student. I do not invent truths; I merely discover them when I am so fortunate.

I suppose in a lot of ways, this will be a change in wording. I will not speak as an authority, but rather I will speak as a student. I do hope that some can join me in my journey of learning and experiencing Recovery. I hope that some will share with me what they have learned in their own journey. I ask that you, my Gentle Readers, be so kind as to teach me. I believe that every human who ever existed can teach me a thing or two, if I merely listen.

Grounding

First, a word on Dissociation

Dissociation

Once in awhile, I get this feeling that reality isn’t. Everything feels strange and far away. I almost feel that I’m watching some movie and am completely outside of it, even though I seem to have a direct impact on what the protagonist does. Often this is accompanied by dizziness, and other strange feelings in my head, which are hard to describe. I’ve been told that this is a form of dissociation, thought to be honest, I’m a little more driven to share my experience with it at the moment than I am to properly research terminology.

Today, I felt a strong sense of dissociation and it had already happened recently, too. Usually it only happens a few times a year, so this seemed like a big deal. Talking about this with one of my friends, they inquired whether I had been under a lot of stress recently.

In fact, I have been under a lot of stress. I recently entered into a serious romantic relationship for the first time in about seven years. This is a pretty big adjustment, and I had avoided relationships for a long time. It is, frankly, quite scary to be doing this again, especially since with closeness comes the possibility of hurting people and being hurt more than in other situations.

Grounding

My girlfriend, Nicki, had recently mentioned “grounding” as a technique to deal with dissociation. Being rather unfamiliar with it in general, I simply took her word for it. Now, grounding itself is something that I am relatively uneducated on, but I know it involves using the senses to inflict a strong sense of reality on oneself. Some people use cold objects such as ice to snap them back into the present. Others focus extremely strongly on things they see around them in the current room. Honestly, anything that powerfully uses the senses can do. I’ve never tried this coping technique before, so I didn’t quite know what to choose.

Prayer

It occurred to me that one of the virtues of Orthodox Christianity is its use of all the senses in worship. Every time we meet, we sing many beautiful songs. The deacon censes the whole church, bringing us to worship with smell. The church is covered in iconography, reminding us with our eyes of the God we worship. We kiss these icons, and light candles and oil lamps. Often, we receive the Holy Gifts, tasting the very body and blood of our Lord.

I am fortunate enough to have, in my room, a number of icons, as well as a oil lamp. To go with these, I have a prayer book filled with prayers for all times of day and all seasons. To ground myself, I lit the oil lamp, looked at the icons, and chanted a number of prayers. It was amazing. This brought me in contact with the God I worship. This experience reminded me of everything I love about Orthodox Christianity. As I lit the match to light the oil lamp, I smelt the burning, and even that was enough to shock me back into the present moment a little bit. I read the prayers and felt myself returning to reality. This was amazing.

This all happened a few hours ago. I feel back in reality. Reality is again. Grounding is amazing. I am thankful to have learned this skill. I finally put it into practice despite having learned it long ago. I intend to do more of this in the future.