Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Airing That 'Laundry'

I have had this ‘bit’ weighing on me for all of my sixty-two years. The damned thing just will not go away. I had hoped that, with my “maturing” and with some measure of confidence attained, I would ,at some point in my life-journey, no longer be vulnerable to the insecurities and uncertainties accompanying “airing” my feelings. Perhaps “next year.” But for now … at the present … it is still a nagging pain in the asterisk.

You see, the deal is that I was raised in an environment that discouraged … no, that is to gentle … disallowed any “airing” of One’s feelings. In fact, the admission of even having feelings is granted certain “Weaker Vessels” and then only with an accompanying dose of disdainful disregard toward those who are so weak of psychological characteristics as to have a need for such an open admission of a less than concrete constitution. To have a disposition given to mention of emotions or feelings is to admit One’s inability to “handle these most-intimate of personal matters for themselves … in solitary privity."

So how was a young man … with a personality and temperament given to experiencing every element of living at the emotional level of consciousness; knowing every aspect of life in terms of passions, sentiment, feelings, and affections … to learn how to develop those sets of innate responses? From what source was such a young man to be educated, mentored, guided, admonished, and nurtured? Who, in an environment that cherished emotional sterility, was to be the model for me … yes (no shock to any who have known me for more that a few sentences of communication) for Me. For, you see, My dear Reader, I was directed, at every moment of confrontation with my natural pre-dispositions, to avoid “airing the laundry” of my thoughts, and, of course, those feelings and emotions that were destined to follow that dreaded circumstance of thinking.

“We do not air our personal laundry in public” was the handily applied aphorism that was broad-brushed over this particular aspect of living. “Keep it to yourself” was, and is, the controlling mandate of all in that environment. So, I made an on-going and valiant effort to “stifle” my Self. This went on for the first forty years of my life. I prayed prayers of fervent “Please God take away all of these questions that no one else is asking and content to live without answers to. Please, I beg You, remove these emotions and passions!” I would beg … right into my early forties.

Then, I began to see the validity of the questions. I began to accept the merits of the passions. I started to realize the wonder of having been created perfectly … as I am. I began to learn to speak what I had never heard spoken by anyone else in my world. I slowly experimented with addressing what I sensed in others … their withheld feelings and emotional needs. And they responded in the manner of a starving child presented with the breast of nurturing and sustaining life. Men, women, and especially children … in whom the flame of human sensitivities had yet to be beaten down by the suppressing forces of a world afraid of something that it had neither controls over nor means of addressing. The children are all-too-willing to “air” their wonderful feelings, ask their impossible questions, and voice their sterile-thinking shattering thoughts of infinite possibilities. This is what I tried to express in the Profile that I wrote at the outset of this blog when I said:
I find joy in awakening Imagination and endorsing the expression of Emotion in children as well as arousing Emotion and awakening child-worthy Imagination in adults.
I don’t know that I can improve on that statement at this juncture … now two and a half years later.

So, why now … here? Because two things have prodded and nudged me to make this feeble effort to address this matter of openly disgorging years of a pent-up tangle of familial, religious, corporate, personal, and societal values, standards, rules, and constitutions. First is that I allowed … yes allowed … for no one can impose any feelings on me … I allowed my itty-bitty tutus to get hurt. Yep, this six foot two inch hulk of former Marine Sergeant, Once Corporate Management Leader, Ordained Deacon, Owner/Operator of heavy construction company, gets his little feelings hurt … because he let them get hurt.

I chose to care about how others respond to my sometimes-clumsy efforts to give vent to feelings, impressions, and emotions that I have no standards or formulae to go by, in giving voice to. So, I have awkwardly stepped on some toes of sensitivity and/or delicacy. I know not in what particular way or at what point. But I, in my absurdly accurate intuitive way of sensing these things, am clearly aware of the chill of offense taken … or suspicious doubt employed by some who I genuinely like and would want to like me in return. And I let my Self feel it. Because, damn it, I do care! And I have no remote desire to deaden myself to that care. Even at the expense of potential injury to my delicate little tutus (feelings.)

But I was willing to bury this subject that I have struggled with for so long, for yet a while longer. Because there is simply too much of “Me” wrapped up in all of these considerations. It is too “personal.” But that dratted Lady Muse punched me in the ribs with my overhearing a couple at a party that I attended Sunday. They were discussing, with some gathered around, their feelings about some of the neighborhoods that they have been looking for a new home in. And they have encountered deed-restricted rules against hanging (“airing” to my pre-sensitized ears) laundry on outdoor lines “in sight of the public.” And (of course) I heard (in my own life-history pre-set awareness) “We do not air our laundry with others.” And I knew that I had not overheard the discussion out of some remote “coincidence.” (Darn that Lady Muse, anyhow!) Now, mind you, I am fully aware of the truest application of the time-honored “Do not air your dirty laundry in public.” And I do subscribe to the underlying wisdom of keeping life’s dirty little secrets private and … well … secret.

But the world that I grew up in, and have contact with to this day, has stretched that bit of aphorism to include ANY and ALL disclosure, mention, discussion, or admission of feelings, emotions, or intimate inclinations. … of any sort, kind, or description. The application of the rigid standard that “We do not discuss our feelings!” is glossed over with the broad-brush application of the aforesaid “laundry” maxim. And it is, in my personal estimation, and to my own individual sensitivities … crippling. And I am doing my dead-level best to learn how to overcome many years worth of the crippling effects of that early life. I may not have it smoothed to perfection … but my efforts at expressing the sincere workings of my Heart, as I am aware of them, when I am aware of them, and to whomever they are intimately intended … are genuine, unrehearsed, and absent any hidden agenda or intent.

So, I am rebelling. I went through the internet and downloaded photos of beautiful, colorful, wonderful laundry … airing itself in the breezes of openness and public availability. All for the sole purpose of fixing in your mind … and mine … the image of laundry being appropriately aired in a display of life being lived freely and openly. I think that it is beautiful!

(And I am going to make a concerted effort to be more gentle with my Self in the area of acceptance of my best-intended efforts at openness. And practicing of forgiveness and nurturing of my Self when I stumble over someone’s toes of sensitivities or suspicions of my sincerities. I see less hurt tutus in my future. [smile])

(upper to lower) Getty Image,The Independent; Earth Day Every Day; Secondhand Nation; pinopower; retractableclothesline.org; The Dandelion Path


lime said...

well done, my friend, well done. now that wasn't so bad was it?

you done good. and one of my favorite things about "airing clean laundry" (which is what you've done...because really, it's rare to hang dirty laundry if you think about it) is the fresh scent it carries when you bring it in.

I hope getting this off your chest and into the blogosphere gives you that fresh air feeling that is so refreshing and invigorating.

Keep being gentle with yourself, ok?

(and forgive me but when i hear "tutus" I think of ballerina skirts...and when i think of a bearded 6'2" marine in tutus it makes me giggle like crazy...but i'm kinda surreal in the directions my imagination takes)

John-Michael said...

As we discussed, My Valued Friend Lime, this was a bugger because of so many years of inner turmoil involved with "coming out" of that environment-imposed chamber of silence (as regarding feelings, emotions, and sensitivities.) Your encouragement and caring heart eased the process immensely!

As to that "tutu" imagery ... the image is quite intentional, I assure you. This is the "if you are going to speak about girlie stuff like feelings, maybe you should just wear a tutu." kind of perspective that a Marine (or, unfortunately most other males) would all-too-often adopt. The "so, got your feelings hurt did ya, well go put your tutu on and tell us all about it, girlie boy." sort of imbicilic mentality that stifles so much out of the humanity of too many men. So, yes!, I use it with tongue firmly lodged in cheek. [grin]

Sure do Love You Darlin'!

CrazyCath said...

That must have taken some doing John-Michael. Quite a number of years of pent up emotion! And you need to be gentle with yourself. We all do. To be forgiven we need to first forgive ourselves...

It is a sad world where we cannot acknowledge that we all have feelings.

Just glanced Lime's comment about you in a tutu (well she didn't say YOU, but you know what I mean) and I am giggling like mad....

jillie said...

Just think of the freshness you get with the laundry you "air out". That was once dirty laundry but now that it has been cleansed, it can be fresh again. I hope that makes sense.

There is nothing more comforting than the feeling and smell of laundry that has been "hung out to dry". Makes you want to wrap it around you, close your eyes and take in a deep breath. Simply refreshing. Just the way I see you!


lime said...

i am privileged to have aided the process and glad to know it was an easing of difficulty.

sometimes it just helps to have a hand to squeeze when it gets a bit owie, eh?

*now puts finger on top of head and pirouettes off to bed.

Beth from the Funny Farm said...

JM; I sense you need or want to write more about this subject.

Have you ever noticed--

When you hang laundry on the clothes line for that "sunny fresh smell," sometimes, the neighbor spreads cow manure.

;-) Have a wonderful day/evening!

aims said...

Having aired all of my dirty laundry and survived - I'm here to tell you that it doesn't hurt at all. Be brave JM.....and it's quite alright to feel emotions. So many people are locked up tight and missing out on the world. I like that you live in the here and now and indulge in your emotions. I think it is marvelous.

Anonymous said...

"Feelings" reminds me of a song from my youth. Gentleness with ourselves is often the hardest thing to accomplish. We make allowances for others but hold ourselves to a very strict standard often. Fortunately or unfortunately depends on how you see it, I was raised in an environment of expressing myself & my "feelings" freely. To this day it sometimes gets me in trouble, but I still prefer it over stifling myself. Actually how many females are capable of that (smile). I'm not as eloquent as you John-Michael. I'm more "get to the point" type person. Yes please be gentle with yourself & express your feelings here, you are among friends!

John-Michael said...

I appreciate and am grateful for your inclination to Self-expression, Anonymous Friend. And it is my unwavering determination to continue as a Voice of freely respected emotion and feelings in all of the world that I have opportunity to touch.


John-Michael said...

Right here, and right now, I am so happy in the Presence of your loving and caring Spirit, Dearest Aims. And I have no intention of shirking away from my commitment to standing alone in my personal world as a comfortably open Soul to be known and understood in my entirety. Perhaps some element of my Being will encourage some unknown others. This is my hope.

Loving You constantly ...

John-Michael said...

As You may recall from my past remarks, Sweetest Beth, I have an 'automatic' pre-disposition to applying the 'cow manure' from my own past experiences to be employed, by Life, as composted nourishment for Souls in want of support and encouragement. Hopefully, I can respond, in kind, to the 'offerings' of others. [smile]

(still 'see' you charging from that chute on that powerful creature with your face set in determined, yet joyful intensity ... love it!)

Your lovely Spirit and charm make my loving You so very easy and delightful.

John-Michael said...

Allow me to offer You my tutu for that graceful "pirouette" Darling Lime. [goofy grin]

Lovingly thanking You ...

John-Michael said...

I eagerly "wrap my Self" in the endearing comfort and feeling of your "XO" and loving thoughts, Precious Jillie. Your visage and Presence are a place of joyful refuge for my Heart ... always.

I love You.

John-Michael said...

I am unabashedly delighted to have given a gift of madly enjoyed giggles to your Heart, Dear CathDaughter. This is a very good thing!

Lovingly ...

david mcmahon said...

The most beautiful posts are those that celebrate life.

John-Michael said...

And we are, indeed, blessed with so very much to celebrate, are we not, David?! I thank you for graciously joining in my personal realization of and celebration of Life's fuller offerings.

I do love You, Dear Sir.

John-Michael said...

Beth, My Precious, I wanted to see a better photo of You and Whirling Fastcat, so I cruised your links (on your blog) for what I just knew You would have there (a creature as magnificent as Fastcat simply has to have a lot of photos!) and VOILA!! look what I found!! [huge grin] 'Tis You in what has to be one of your finest moments. And how (I ask You) could I NOT share it here?!?

(Could anyone NOT love a woman as magical as You in this image?!?)

nitebyrd said...

When you "hang" your laundry, it's no longer dirty! The sun will naturally remove spots with it's warmth. The fresh breezes will blow any musty-ness away. What you have left is a clean, soft and revived wardrobe.

Your figurative "laundry" will be the same if you let it "air out." ;)

John-Michael said...

Despite my usual practice of "airing out" my spontaneous impressions and Heart-felt responses to Others (which I have been quite comfortable with and enjoy as my life-rhythm) those old echoes of yesteryear's voices and admonitions still seep to the surface of my thinking and sensitivities. this is as much an "airing out" of those Demons of the past as anything, My Darling NiteByrd. (by the way ... no one in my past or even in my present surroundings would ever dream of allowing themselves the freedom of Spirit to refer to You as "Darling" ... though every fibre of their Being and consciousness may cry out that "Darling" is precisely what You are. Just one example. I do dearly Love being comfortable with letting You know that You strike a "Darling Chord" in my Heart with each thought of You. So, I "air it out!" And I allow You to know that You have that effect on Me very Being.)

Which is why I am so happy to let You know how I do Love You. [smile]

Classic Charm said...

Hello my friend! Ah yes, I think the older I get the more comfortable I get with my laundry - ha....within reason yes of course! This was some good readin, and yep that laundry is beautiful! Gosh, I have to remind my "boys" that it is OK to show their feelings. And I think they do a pretty good job!

San said...

I love Lime's comment. She's right on about airing the "clean" laundry. I believe there's something about getting the feelings out, that makes us realize they're not so shameful after all. Not dirty at all, just cooped up and in need of the sunshine.

And I agree: these images are glorious!

John-Michael said...

After Lime saw this post, she sent me sever magnificent photos of her tie-dyed fabrics (one of her passions) drying on the line. and it stirred the idea of "tie-dying" these images of what You have so aptly described as "glorious" 'pennants' of apparel. So, I went back and created the collage just because I wanted to enjoy another aspect of this statement of the innate beauty in our "everyday."

I am so glad that You, My Wonderful San, enjoyed them too.

Loving and sharing with You is a total BLAST!

John-Michael said...

Please permit me to encourage your encouragement of your Boys in this area of "freedom of expression." I can promise you a bountiful harvest of satisfaction and unbounded joy in sharing their enhanced lives as they experience living in all of the glories of each of their own personal unrestrained Selves. (And helping them to know comfort in plentiful ((HUGS)) will be added enhancement to their happiness. [smile])

I love You Rose!

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