When you start figuring out how full of shit you are, it’s like opening a tunnel to all the lies you’ve ever told yourself. – Allie Brosh, Hyperbole and a Half
It started over a plastic bowl.
My Mum and I had just finished eating our respective bowls of popcorn. Once done, Mum graciously took mine into the kitchen along with her own. I heard water running. I heard things being placed on the drain board. Hunh, I thought, that was nice. I won’t have to deal with my bowl. What a treat.
On my way through the kitchen, at a later point in the evening, I noticed my mother’s bowl on the drain board…and mine still in the sink.
It’s fascinating to notice what happens in the mind, at lightning speed, at any given point in time. In that moment, part of my mind actually pulled up a chair, sat down and waited for the ensuing show. Because it was coming. It’s like when you have horribly abusive neighbours. Your ears catch wind of the argument that’s begun at the other end of their apartment. It’s a tone, not a nice tone, but it’s still quiet. Over time, you know the tone will turn to a roar and before you know it, they’re overhead and sounding like wild animals tearing into each other. Yeah, it was like that in my head. Over a plastic bowl. (The absurdity of it has not escaped me.)
It went something like this:
Nice. All those times I’ve washed Mum’s bowl, or her work containers, or anything else for that matter, and she can’t even THINK of washing my bowl. I do it because I know how happy it makes her to not have to deal with these things, and I like to make my mother happy.
Do I? Do I really?
You see, there are certain times in my life when I honestly do things for another simply because I know it will make her happy. For example, I make sure K’s coffee is always ready to go at the push of a button. I know it makes her morning a little easier which makes the start to her day a bit happier. When I do this, I don’t expect a return. I don’t expect K to fix my coffee although, bless her heart, she does. There is no expectation. The motivation is pure. (Okay, except for the part where I actually feel happy when K is happy. So how selfless is this? Never mind. Now it’s a conundrum. ;) )
But when it came to the plastic bowl incident, my Full-of-Shit Radar was screaming at an ear-deafening pitch. Something was not sitting right with me. There was a queasiness in my belly and a certain heat to my thoughts. Full-of-Shit Radar was bringing to my attention that my motivation was not pure. I was not doing nice things to make my mother happy. I was doing nice things so that I could get something in return. (Don’t ask me what. I haven’t gotten that far.)
The truth is, this has nothing to do with my mother and has everything to do with how full of shit I really am. (I hear the voices of those close to me arguing with me on my use of the phrase “full of shit”, but hey, let’s call it what it is.) It’s a brutal process to get honest with yourself but, if you dare to step upon a path of honesty, you will have your arse kicked and the scabs torn from your eyes. What I constantly discover is how corrupt and selfish my underlying motivations are. How what I do is most often fed by a desire to have the hunger of some hidden woundedness tended to. How I have to learn to feed and fill my own gaping hole because dragging fulfillment from another human being is pure violation, something I have no right to do. And how, if I’m doing something “nice” in order to gain something in return, I’d best not be doing it in the first place.
All of the responsibility is mine. The plastic bowl. The coffee cup. The broken heart. My own destiny. I can only look within myself to “fix what is broke” and to do what needs doing in order to create peace in my heart. And some days, my friends, that responsibility can feel like a heavy burden. So isn’t it much easier to pass it off on someone else and to make her responsible for my needs? Except it doesn’t work and the suffering continues.
So what drives you?
May we all have the opportunity to find out what drives us. May we all have the courage to admit when we’re full of shit. And may we all keep washing other people’s plastic bowls. ;)