I Gotta Be Me?

This is personal, be warned. It has little to do with health blogging and more to do with organizing my thoughts. It belongs in a more private journal. But I wanted to be open about who I am in a quasi public arena. Calling this blog public is an exaggeration given how few people read or follow it. But it’s not private, so it goes.

One would think after 50 plus years on this terrestrial speck that I might come to some conclusion that I need to just be myself. I am seldom just myself. The idea that you should just be who you are is great in the sense that your interests and abilities should not be dictated to you, nor should you be forced to follow a certain path in life. I get that. Do I follow it? Not so much. I enjoy the “I’m my own person” mentality. Reality echoes back that I am not my own person; I haven’t been for years. That’s actually a good thing.

I am a husband, a father, a principal provider for others, a religious leader, an employee. All of these require relationships that must be considered. There are others involved in each of these and these others have a reliance on my efforts. I do not live in a bubble even if I surrounded myself with like minded individuals, which I don’t.

Being these things conflicts with other things that are “me”, things I gravitate to very naturally. I am naturally polyamorous. I still crave a marijuana high even 37 years after my last one. I hate authority. I live to have fun. I was born to binge watch. I enjoy porn. I am prone to outbursts of powerful amounts of sarcasm. That’s just a sampling of what gravitate towards naturally.

If I allowed myself these without fetters by just being me, me would be divorced, excommunicated from my faith, high at work, unemployed for repeated offenses of insubordination, bankrupt from buying all the recreational toys I want, and hated by my kids.

It’s not just about who I am naturally. Naturally, I am a small boned guy wearing an extra-large size with a cholesterol level higher than a Snoop-Dog audience. By nature, I am an accomplished hedonist.

That’s not who I am in my life. In life, I am a good steward; Imperfect, no doubt, but I still manage to keep the promises made to others even when they conflict with who I am naturally. I have failed to avoid some of the things I have listed about my natural self on occasions.  Mostly I have them managed; a couple of them still need work. When examined as a collective, I am doing pretty good. I want to be better. Thus, I am not who I am naturally. I am who I am unnaturally.

Unnaturally, I am a small boned medium with elevated but managed cholesterol, a penchant for exercise, a strict diet, a loving wife, a resistance for viewing bad content although Netflix history may suggest otherwise, a well bitten tongue, and a huge number of children who love me…I think.

There are some things natural about me that I embrace. I am naturally very open. I share much about myself that most keep to themselves. This makes people squirm. I value new experiences which means I try a lot of different things but seldom stick with most of them. I value health, which means I talk a lot about it and it comes off as bragging. Sometimes it is. Usually, I just want to get others to embrace the craziness of running in the snow and eating plants.

Then there are the things I hate to have, but do and always will. I am bipolar and have bouts of isolation associated with it. I don’t like it and those around me don’t either. I continue to work to manage it. I take medication, but not for me. I take it for those around me. It’s for their peace and joy. I will never be rid of it. I have to accept it, embrace it, and manage it. I also have a big nose and a three story forehead. I look like a thumb. I have to accept that and embrace it as well.

Doing things to please others is not all that wrong. Not being yourself in all things is actually good. Were it otherwise, relationships would not exist. Managing, if not purging, those things in us that are damaging to self or others is our way of finding joy in others and wanting to have them draw nearer to us. We all have our personalities. Our choices are not dictated by them even if we feel drawn to them.

We must not allow others to control us, not even our loved ones. We can, however choose how to be rather than just being whatever we are. Choosing is how we become something more.

I write this because I have reviewed my past blog entries after 8 months of idle time. I only wrote this blog to record my health quest. I took time away from that quest to focus on improving relationships which actually meant improving myself.

When I started this blog, I was not only feeling passionate about health, I was feeling passionate about being “just me”.  I wanted to write just as I felt. Those feelings conflict with what I have previously chosen to value.

It became clear to me that this was not just a health blog. It was an expression of my other self, my natural self. It never went to the deep levels of those things, but the style and language reflected it. The tone of it was a more natural me.

Others in my life have taken an interest in my health journey. Since I am renewing it, I will be adding to this in the future, at least that is my hope. As others in my life may be looking at this, I realized much of what I had written, while not patently offensive, would be off putting. I have spent that past two days editing the content.

It could be said that this violates the journal’s integrity. I could even see myself saying that. I could also say that I am making a choice between my dual selves. The integrity is not in what I wrote but in my commitment to my choice.

The expression of duality is found in many philosophies. It always represents the struggle between who we are and who we can become. It is core to the Eastern religions. It is found in Greek philosophy. It is central to Christianity although post modern sects have all but removed it. Luke records this seldom used passage of Jesus: “In your patience possess ye your souls.” The implicit duality is clear as is the reality this is a long term process.

I can choose between the natural me or the higher me. Being just me is not about what I am by nature, but which of the two I will choose.  I choose the higher me.

Now, if I can just  make the same choice tomorrow…