Monday, October 1, 2007

More to Go to Heaven For

Three years ago today, we buried my brother. In two days, it will have been three years since my grandfather died. The end of September and the beginning of October is especially hard for me. Nothing like losing the two of the most important men in your life to taint fall forever.

My mom told me the other day that she feels like we are forgetting Andy because we don’t talk about him much. I have very few vivid memories of him. With our age difference, we just didn't spend a whole lot of time together, but it still feels like my heart is being wrenched from my chest, so I don’t worry much about forgetting him.

Not long after he died, I wrote in my personal journal, “I keep waiting for it to get easier, but I’ve come to believe that it will never be easier. It will just change how it is hard.” Now, three years later, I still completely believe that. I’ve also found that when you lose someone like that, so suddenly, so unexpectedly, so heartbreakingly, you never do get to go back to normal. You eventually redefine normal, and most days, you’re okay--good even, but there are still moments of sadness that stab at you, that make you want to crawl back into bed, that make you want to lay down and die, too, because even the thought of going on without them, even the idea that the world can keep spinning without them, is too much to bear.

It really helps to have friends who love you and make a point to say, “I remember, and I’m still sad, too.” It helps to have people who care, to have people who know that Saturday wasn’t a very good day for me, that today wasn’t so great either, and that Wednesday will be hard, too. It helps to have people acknowledge my heartache, and it really, really helps to have someone understand that grief never does truly go away.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Change Is Gonna Come

Please allow me to navel gaze for a moment...

We’re learning about Kegan’s Stages of development in my Adult & Adolescent Development class. Instead of a traditional textbook, we’re reading Kegan’s own book, The Evolving Self–one written primarily for use by his peers. It’s making for dense reading material, but Kegan has some really interesting ideas. I’ve found myself trying to transpose those ideas to my own life.

Kegan has a belief in six equilibrium stages of development (numbered 0-5), beginning with the Incorporative stage and ending with the Inter-individual stage. The subject of each stage is the object of the previous one, and each individual has to progress through the stages in order. There’s generally a period of transition when characteristics of the present stage and of the next stage are displayed simultaneously. Each transitional period is eventually ended when the individual begins to rely more on the future stage than the present one.

I think I’m transitioning from Stage 3 to Stage 4 right now. I’m at a point where my sense of self is at least in part based on how I think others view me. I’ve really been struggling with the disparity between my two identities: the Me that I see, and the Me that (I think) others see. A lot of my self-esteem is still derived from how I am regarded by others (or how I perceive others’ regard of me). I basically define and conduct myself in terms of the social expectations placed on me (or my perception of social expectations placed on me). This is sort of classic Stage 3 stuff.

The transition factors in because at least part of the time, I can successfully function without regard to how others’ view me. I’ve at least begun constructing my own set of values and standards of conduct, completely independent of those set forth by society. That’s where Stage 4 comes in. Stage 4 is all about independence from social expectations, enabling K4s to make decisions in absence of shared social support and in the face of competing social and organizational expectations.

That last sentence is why I can only say that I’m in transition. I’m far from being able to make decisions and commitments without social support of some kind, and it’s very hard for me to deal with competing social expectations–mine versus theirs. But I really feel like I’m getting there. It’s kind of interesting to take what we’re learning in class and apply it to my life directly.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The One About the Perfect Man

A myspace friend posted a blog with a list of 45 requirements for the perfect man. I think the list is ridiculous, but I can’t very well say that without proposing a more reasonable list. Here goes:

The perfect man is someone who:

..Listens for understanding and not as a way to pass time until it’s his turn to talk.
..Is passionate about something--art, his career, restoring old cars, anything really.
..Can hold his own in a conversation with any of my friends or family members.
..Feels comfortable in his own skin.
..Realizes there’s always room for improvement.
..Values his independence and respects mine.
..Tells me his secrets; doesn’t tell mine.
..Wants a family with me–not necessarily now, but someday.
..Is generally honest. White lies tolerable, but not preferred.
..Enjoys spending time with his family, and wants to include me in that.
..Appreciates good music and good movies.
..Appreciates bad music and bad movies.
..Doesn’t mind a good debate.
..Has some hobbies that don’t include me, and one or two that do.
..Has some sense of where his life is headed; has dreams and goals.
..Thinks it’s cute–-or at least slightly amusing–-when I make up a song about new shoes.
..Sneaks around behind my back to plan occasional surprises. (Only good ones!)
..Has his own interests, opinions, beliefs and ideas that he’s not willing to sacrifice--not even for me.
..Has a strong sense of who he is, loves me all the time, and occasionally takes my advice.

Basically, I want someone who is as excited about me as I am about him, someone who’s different from me and who doesn’t mind discussing those differences at length, someone who can make me see things in a different light, someone who envisions his future and sees me standing beside him, someone who says to me, “I hope we have a dozen little girls and they all look just like you.”