Soul Letter – Better Angels

When I was young, I was bullied a lot. I learned that because I was smaller than everyone else, I was going to have to fight back without physical strength. I learned to use my mouth. I learned to talk fast, and hard. I learned I would have to use my brain, think quick, and never be found without something clever to say in every situation I found myself in.

And just like those comedians who learn to be funny to deflect punches, I got really good at saying clever things. I was chosen for the debating team all the way through school. I became a champion at being verbally combative. And because I could also write quite well, I learned to write in the same way.

It’s a curse.

Whenever I get tired and stressed out, and feel pressured and overwhelmed by life, I revert to my anti-bullying tactics. I pick fights. I get critical. I smart-mouth and double-talk and curse and carry on, I swing wildly into the air with word-punches designed to make the world think I am big! I am strong! I know stuff! Don’t mess with me! Just, please…leave me alone.

We just moved house. Ben stayed behind to keep working while I set up home here with the kids. It’s a big city. I’ve been lost a few times, late a few times, surprised at how much this is going to cost quite a few times. I’ve been waiting for breakthroughs, pushing for them, demanding them, and then forcing myself back into a holding pattern, learning to breath and walk and wait again.

I’ve been with new people every day. I’ve walked past them and they me, and we’ve faced off, and turned away. I’ve smiled in hallways and had eyebrows raised at me. I’ve been brushed off. I’ve even been shoved. I’ve also been sat next to, greeted and invited to dinner. That can be just as hard as being ignored, but I don’t think it will be for very long. I think it will get better, and I’ll feel less brittle soon.

I’m feeling bullied by my life, and so I’m doing what I’ve always done when I feel small and weak and vulnerable. I get obnoxious. I get smart-ass. I get busy with it.

It’s not Life bullying me, just my life. There’s a difference. Life is bigger than me; better and more benevolent, an angel watching over me, a river I can lose myself on, a source I can draw on. My life isn’t like that. My life is small and crabby and mean sometimes, frantic and scrabbling and moody and very, very young. My life hasn’t grown much since I was small and got beaten up by other small people who wanted to be big. I’ve never wanted to be big. Just safe.

But Life isn’t small like me. Life is big, it doesn’t have to try to be. Life is out there, away, coming, in the future. Life is good and great and god and giving. Life is what I want. Life is where I want to be. I want out of my life and into Life. That’s where I’m going. And I can’t go there smart-mouthing and swearing and swinging. I need to settle myself down and shoosh myself up. Quieten down there girl. Everything’s going to be all right.

Everything is going to be all right.

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2 thoughts on “Soul Letter – Better Angels”

  1. One of my sons was bullied a bit in school. It made him grow to be someone who was pretty strong and resilient and who now won’t take s**t from anyone. Sure, he is sometimes a bit too sensitive to a slight or put down. But I admire that he has a strong sense of self now, and won’t be put down by anyone. So …. I am thinking that your early experiences might also have lead you to develop a number of great strengths. The smart mouth and gift of the gab and humour and feistiness make you who you are and are perfect for the work you do.
    Having said that, yes sometimes wrestling the world can be exhausting and you might deserve a rest from these ‘great strengths’ while your life settles into normality. Having moved house last year after 30 years in one house, I have a small inkling of what you are going through – it keeps you on your toes for sure. Best wishes for the adventure.

  2. Life is now.. this day.. this hour.. this minute.. this moment… and is special, and different to the last minute. Sometimes it is worth just stopping.. and breathing, and you may think.. wow.. life is incredible.. full of choices, and consequences..
    I often get so cranky and obnoxious, life is so busy and frustrating!! and I forget to stop…. just stop… now breath.. thanks for reminding me Jo..
    Lovin’ your writings Jo, hope you don’t mind me commenting.

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