Friday, September 29, 2006

down home cooking

i used to have serious battles with my ego. at times she refused to digest reason, instead choosing to pick at her plate, eating only those choice items she thought would satisfy her appetite. if she knew something was gonna give her heartburn, she stayed away from it. while this might appear to be healthy on some levels, ultimately it left her emaciated of nutrients she'd get from those items. it's kinda like milk...i need it as a part of my diet, but i'm lactose intolerant, so i need milk that doesn't have lactose in it. in other words, my ego needed the experience that would cause heartburn so that in the future she would know how to create a similar experience that didn't have heartburn as an ingredient.

she needed the whole plate of reason, including the reality. meanwhile, my ego was afraid. she was afraid what she wanted she would not get if she digested reality. she was afraid she'd experience the kind of burn that would leave her heart in cinders, so she continued to pick at her plate, never gaining the nutrients she needed from the experience because she'd shaped everything on her plate to resemble her version of the events, which guaranteed protection against hurt.

for years i indulged her because it was just easier that way. i mean, who wants to argue with someone who is only trying to avoid the pain, even if it means ignoring reality? reality tastes nasty most of the time anyway. it's like the castor oil of meals.

meanwhile, eventually i found myself as a twenty-something year old woman with the coping skills of a child. my ego'd become so good at eating so little of reason that my brain was operating in an alternate universe, one where nikki was always right, everyone else was always wrong, and it was up to nikki to convince people of their flaws and of her perfection. it appeared that the way my ego was operating was good for me, but there's always a downside and this one was about as low as it could go.

cuz reality is always on the plate and it should be swallowed immediately, while it's fresh and easier to break down. the earlier it's attacked, the more time can be allowed for nibbling and adjusting. meanwhile, the longer my ego pretended it wasn't there, the more rotten reality became. it would appear on each plate served to me for weeks, sometimes months, growing rancid as my ego went on about her business of pushing the food together to form pleasing images of 'me not being rejected, but him being unable to handle my perfection' or 'those people only fired me because i was too good to work there' or 'she's not really dying. somebody lying to me'. all the while reality would sit there in a moldy pile of unrecognizable matter, its hideous odor forcing my ego to acknowledge it was still there waiting to be digested. no matter how many times it was scrapped from the plate, it would appear again on the next one, more decayed, more determined than ever to be consumed.

and you know how it goes when you eat food that's gone bad...stomach cramps, vomiting, fever, hallucenations...basically all the shit that could have been avoided if my ego had just eaten the damn reality in the first damn place.

if i'd only eaten that reality earlier i wouldn't have wasted months trying to get him to see he really loved me and then be forced to swallow reality whole when i saw him with someone else. i wouldn't have become sick and gone home and holed myself up in my house for days afterwards.

if i'd only eaten that reality earlier i would have adjusted my work behavior so that i wasn't always getting fired. i would have known to look for jobs that didn't start early in the morning. i would have known to seek jobs that challenged me instead of boring me to the point where i wasn't motivated enough to complete the tasks and ultimately get myself fired for it. instead i was forcibly injected with a dose of reality as i became homeless after being jobless for eight months.

if i'd only eaten that reality earlier i would have made time to spend with my great-grandma after i was told she wasn't long for this world. i would have known to make the most of that time left and given her the respect and attention an elder deserves (so sayeth amadeo). instead i was pushed headfirst into a plate of reality when she died and the only memories i had of her and i together were from five years prior to her dying.

like i said...the downside is a bitch...

so i put my ego in check.

it was time for her to face facts from jump, to stop seeing the world as it was shaped on her plate, to stop acting as though she'd had nothing to do with making the dish in the first place.

cuz you know how it goes...empowerment against hardship only comes when one can acknowledge one's part in the creation of the hardship in the first place.

it's been hard though and at times i falter. i still would like to believe that no man with good sense would ever reject me, and on the rare ocassion actually find myself trying to force the issue, as though i can convince him he doesn't really know what's he's talking about...he knows he wants me. but the fact of the matter is that i'm not appealing to every man on earth and even if things start off one way and ultimately sputters, that's just life. folk know their own minds and i have to respect that, even if means i don't get what i want.

i still would like to believe i'm right all of the time, but all i have to do is look at the debris on the path behind me marking my 'triumphs of a different kind' in order to see perhaps i could tried a different route. 'triumph of a different kind' is another word for failure, which i've chosen to banish from my vocabulary. and no, that ain't me altering reality, it's acknowledging the only failure is the failure to try, not the outcome.

my ego has suffered a number of bruises and numerous cases of heartburn. but they are fewer and further between now, because she's become a better chef with the creation of each new situation. and now that she's tasted reality when it's fresh, she better knows how to prepare it so that it's tastier. so even if things don't work out in her flavor, the reality of the situation can be spiced up with a dash of positive thinking. she eats a hearty meal of both reason and reality and bolsters her strength against the disease of the spirit. i guess this is where somebody reminds me that castor oil is good for that kind of thing...

so now i'm a thirty-something woman with the coping skills of a twenty-something woman. come on...surely you didn't expect the shit to just right itself once i put my ego in check, did you? then again, i'm sure that's what my ego expected.

that heffa and her flights of fancy...