When I slow down enough to feel it, this is what I feel.
A knife, stuck in my chest.
Not one of those horror movie knives. A serrated-edge kitchen knife. And it’s just sticking out of me.
Whenever I move, I feel it.
It’s not a sharp pain. It’s been there for a long time. It feels more like a dull ache.
This is part of the process of self-discovery, so I’m told. Getting in touch with my feelings.
The only thing is, I don’t like feeling this. So I try not to think about it. But it’s still there. It affects me.
I’ve been told that these feelings are meant to be warning signs for us. Like blinking red lights. Something inside me is telling me that something isn’t right.
What usually happens in these moments of realization is that my brain takes over. It provides reasons and explanations for what I’m feeling, and why. But my brain is usually wrong. And I think it’s motivated by fear. It doesn’t want me to connect with the truth, so it throws excuses and rationalizations in my path.
But the truth is more intuitive for me. It feels like something I’ve always known, and just have to admit to myself.
The truth is that I have lived my life for other people.
Why is that so scary for me to admit? I think because at some point, I decided that I was going to be a selfless person. It was going to be a saving grace for me. Kind of an identity thing. And it’s difficult for me to admit that it hasn’t done me any good.
In fact, it’s led me to this place. Anger, frustration, and above all fatigue are part of my everyday life.
Is it so bad to be selfless, though? Jesus says…
Ha. There it is again. The reflexes come back so easily. Jesus says.
It’s not that I still struggle with religion. It’s that I still struggle with what led me to religion in the first place. I wasn’t a complete person. And I was looking for something to complete me. Religion gave me a framework. “Be this kind of person, and all will be well.”
And it just so happened that the goal of “selflessness” meshed well with my (lack of) sense of self. I didn’t feel that I deserved anything—that I had no right to pursue anything—and religion affirmed those feelings for me. I deflected the issue and avoided confronting those dark places.
But I can’t live that way anymore. I’ve already hit 40. Call it a midlife crisis, call it finally reaching adulthood. But I’ve reached the point where I just can’t be motivated by “selflessness” anymore. I need to start prioritizing myself, as scary as that is.
Once again, the blank canvas of this blog serves as metaphor. I have no idea how to navigate this. But I know that I have to. It’s time. The knife has to be pulled out.