In my daily reading today, there was a line that said, “Spiritual Growth is feeling the brunt of our own puzzlement.” This really hits home for me. Because of the trauma of my childhood, I have never done well with uncertainty. Not having all the information on a situation (how drunk is my father, what is his mood, how quickly will he pass out so we can stop hiding and go back to watching “DuckTales”) was dangerous when I was a child, so I learned to be hyper-aware and fact-greedy.
One time, after just meet someone, they stated a fact I believed to be untrue about Florida manatees and their preferred habitat. I dissented (“um, actually” *pushes up glasses*) and we went back and forth briefly. I was fairly I sure I was correct, but couldn’t say with 100% certainty. We were swimming at the beach in Florida, having a lovely, gorgeous time, but all I could think was, “I need to get back to the house and research manatees.” Not because I needed to be right (OKAY FINE, DEFINITELY PARTLY BECAUSE I NEEDED TO BE RIGHT), but because not knowing everything about something, or worse, being wrong about something, gives me terrible anxiety. I was distracted all day, and the second I got back to my phone, hands still sandy, wrapped in a towel, I submersed myself in the sweet, sweet oblivion of Wikipedia. Then, casually at dinner, like I hadn’t spent two hours digging my way through the latest and most hard-hitting manatee publications (“SEA COW NOW”) instead of combing my hair, I announced to the group that it turns out Florida manatees can move freely between salinity extremes, nbd.
(...though some studies suggest Florida manatees must have access to fresh water for proper regulation of water and salts within their bodies, AMANDA.)
Now imagine me in a relationship, where two people’s experiences, perceptions, and feelings are fluid and ever-changing and BOTH TRUE AT THE SAME TIME. Or in life, where the whole point seems to be “things happen, we don’t ever really know why, sorry about your dad, lol.” I have spent most of my life worrying and over-thinking, and not sleeping bc I’m wide awake at 4am trying to noodle deep meaning out of a six word text. (Computer, analyze “np bb, i miss u 2 ;)” and then never stop analyzing it.)
It has taken a lot of recovery work and meditation, a relapse, a break up, a break down, and losing my entire world to get me a place where I finally can just shrug and say, “Huh, weird” and let go of the need to understand everything down to its particulate. That need to KNOW has served me well in my career, has made me curious and kept me learning, and has made it possible for me to navigate a room of 300 peoples’ feelings and responses with ease. Like most character flaws, it has a positive side. But it has also limited my serenity and made me unbearable at trivia night.
Today I will do my best to bear the brunt of my own human puzzlement, and try to be glad there is endless mystery in the universe. (Also, I’ll probably do a little more reading on manatees, because I was unaware that there are three different species and I want to be prepared in case that comes up in conversation next time I’m at the beach.)