So I recently came down with a nasty bout of I-don’t-even-know-what. The PA said I had left lower lobe pneumonia, the radiologist looking at my chest X-ray said I had bronchitis. My guess: pneumonia is a secondary infection, so I’m assuming I got bronchitis and then I ended up getting pneumonia. In any case, I had these nasty little coughing fits that ended up making me lose my voice completely. Ridiculous…especially since I was sick for about two weeks and missing a voice for one. And my voice isn’t even totally back yet. But I digress. Point is, I lost my voice.
Anyway, so the entire time, I focused on the “What the [expletive]?! I don’t have time for this [expletive]. I need my [expletive]-[expletive] voice back NOW!” (Use your imagination…it’s like a Mad-Lib). Unfortunately, I have a very strong feeling that this was God’s way of telling me to shut up and listen…or in UCC-speak “I love you, but please be quiet.” And rightfully so; I’ve flaked out on my weekly trips to Mount Bonnell because of “lack of time.” In reality, it was just laziness.
In any case, I completely missed that memo, so God sent another one: the death of a friend. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure God had other things to do with Kadye and other people to communicate a message to with her death. I’m not completely narcissistic. But I’m sure God would take the chance to knock out two birds with one stone. But yeah, that one shut me up good.
It definitely made me realize more fully (as I’ll probably never feel the full magnitude of it) the transient nature of life. The words of my high school English literature teacher, Mrs. Cannariato, about this topic resonate in my mind: “First you’re here, then you’re gone.” I understood that people live, people die, you move on. But application to real life was far different applying this to Beowulf. But in the mess that is life, it really is that simple. You’re here, now you’re not. Life must begin and must end. And realistically, it is only really tragic for those who love the deceased. For the dead, they’ve reached that finish line. They’ve completed what they were meant to do here on earth, whether or not we felt as though they were ready. Unfortunately, some of these ends are unpleasant. But I always imagined Kadye going down in a blaze of glory…I just didn’t realize it would be so literal. Either way, though, April 24 will always be etched in my mind. But now, instead of a day of mourning, I can look at it as a day of celebration of a life that was full and vibrant; a day of completion and closure. She’s done. She made it. The girl always seemed to work quickly, I have to give her that one.
Anyway, I’m sure God was not trying to tell me about the transient nature of life through laryngitis. Rather, I feel like it was more along the lines of appreciation. Appreciate what you have, who and what are around you, and, most importantly, yourself.
Recently, I’ve been feeling a little taken advantage of by a few friends. By nature I’m what I guess you would call a beta male; I tend to subordinate myself and my needs to that of others. But since most of the time, I feel as though if I’m close to you and I care about you and trust you, I should give you my all, I have a tendency not to set boundaries. Which then ends up with me silently hating myself and pissed at people and blaming others for injustices against me, when, in reality, how are they supposed to know that I’m not comfortable when I never tell them? And, after re-reading that last sentence, I realized what direction that could be taken in, and no, this has nothing to do with any form of physicality.
There’s this group of guys, my best, best, BEST friends in the world. These guys know me inside and out (metaphorically, of course), and I would do nearly anything for these fools if they needed me to. But one day, one of them essentially commanded me (note: not asked, but commanded) to do something. It was in the usual way we interact, but the command was something that would end up costing me money, money that I didn’t exactly have. At first, I was like “who is this [expletive] that he can just snap his fingers and expect me to do his bidding?! Oh HELL no.” I sincerely resented him for that. But then I realized, 99% of the time, I let him manipulate me, I play along with his games, I never really let him know when he’s gone too far.
And, to be completely honest, it’s because I like the attention, as twisted as that sounds. This is the first set of friends that I could legitimately look up to as big brothers, as role models. I didn’t have to be the leader because they knew better than I did most of the time. They really, for all intents and purposes, are my big brothers and I their little, and when I get attention, it really is one of those moments where I feel as though I’m finally cool enough or good enough to have earned the attention of my role model(s).
But, to an extent, that needs to stop. Because what I always forget is that if our friendship, our brotherhood is genuine, they won’t go anywhere if I decide to start setting a boundary here and there as we explore the breadth of our relationship. In fact, it makes it easier for us to respect each other and to understand each other if we do so. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to start setting boundaries haphazardly because I feel like it at the time. But when a situation bothers me for days on end after the fact, then it’s time to say something. I mean in the aforementioned situation, the guy I’m talking about may not have even realized I was completely ticked off at that situation. I was offended and said nothing.
This problem is nothing new, but rather cyclical actually. And each time, I end up setting a boundary, and our relationship is otherwise unaffected. But for some reason, I always forget that holding my ground doesn’t mean I’m going to get left behind.
I feel like I’ve been rambling a lot, but in any case, my take-home message is along the lines of self-respect. For others to truly respect you, you must learn how to respect yourself. In some strange irony, setting boundaries helps you set your spirit free.