Forget Resting Bitch Face (RBF) – I have Jack Nicholson Face (JNF)
I showed up at work this morning with my JNF.
The owner, i.e. my Employer/Boss, sent an email yesterday requesting we begin a new project. A great project. A valid, very necessary project. Except the people she planned to pull to complete the project are the ones that are supposed to be doing the spring cleaning. The spring cleaning I’m in charge of. The spring cleaning that isn’t getting done. The spring cleaning that is one of the many issues currently on my plate, none of which are going well.
I was sitting at the front desk and I sensed her approach. She is one of the most positive people I’ve ever met. As she approached with her usual smiling, bubbly face, my JNF got worse. I think I went from Jack Nicholson in his 1st week at the Overlook Hotel to Jack Nicholson’s face thrust through the door he’s just sunk an axe into, snarling “here’s Johnny”, in about a split second.
She’s a relatively bright woman [hence business owner] and she caught on very quickly that I was losing my shit, and she responded brilliantly. She said “No problem, the new project is off the table.” She went on to discuss communication which honestly was not the issue. The issue was my JNF.
Actually the issue was not my JNF, it was my JN attitude.
I am a really competent person. I am an excellent employee, I’m a pretty good mother, I’m a nice person, and I go out of my way to make sure the people I come into contact with are better for having met me. My point is that when I do things, I do them well. Unfortunately, that includes my meltdowns, aka JNF episodes.
I’m not sure what to do with this. If I make a list of all the shit going on in my life I could possibly be excused for having JNF. But there are a lot of people with long lists of shit in their lives, and they don’t all suffer from JNF. (Or maybe they do and they are better at hiding it than I am?)
My therapist says that the reason I experience JNF is that I am a highly sensitive person, and, because I am also boundary-impaired, my emotions build up until ……. JNF. She believes that as I learn to implement boundaries, my episodes of JNF will diminish, in both frequency and intensity. And this is true. I have less episodes now than I did 3 years ago. My therapist thinks I should embrace this part of my personality. She maintains that sensitivity is a great attribute. Is it though?
I can see how during the cave man era sensitivity would be a great trait. I sense danger before I see it. I know when something bad is about to happen. If we lived in caves and had to fight off animals and neighboring tribes, I’d be your girl! I have no doubt I would outlive less sensitive people, because I’d be primed and ready to react. I would hear that twig breaking in the distance and I’d be flooded with adrenaline, ready to run, pounce or protect. What a great quality to have!
But we don’t live in the cave man era. The “bad things” that happen in my life today do not require nuclear reactions. Being flooded with adrenalin and poised to fight to the death is not really necessary in a yoga studio. Or a family setting. Or ….. well, most any environment/situation I might find myself in.
If we assume that “sensitivity” is a genetic condition, which I think it is given the fact that 2 of 4 in my family are “blessed” with it, I wonder……..does it serve a purpose? I watch the people I know not blessed with this “gift” and frankly, I’m jealous. While I’m ready to react to the slightest provocation, those less sensitive calmly evaluate situations and respond more appropriately. I’ve met some less sensitive people who I’m pretty sure have never gone nuclear; they’ve never had a JNF episode. Yes, they miss the subtle nuances of life. They don’t pick up on the insincere, they don’t understand the insult wrapped in a compliment, they don’t recognize the person manipulating a situation.
Is that really a bad thing though? Do they pay a price for that?
While I stay on edge, “feeling” every vibration around me, they calmly walk through their day, taking care of only actual necessities. The issue that sends me into a JNF spiral has little to no effect on them. If their boss proposes a new project that will run afoul of their current project, they don’t feel that. They don’t feel frustrated, or overwhelmed, or just freaking mad. Since they are not engaged in a visceral reaction, they are able to calmly evaluate the situation and address it appropriately. Like a grown up. Like a non-cave-woman. Damn. I’m jealous! I hate being “sensitive”.
All of which has led me to the following conclusion: I do need to forgive myself.
Where did that come from, right?
After I calmed down from my JNF I decided to clean the blinds in the community space of the studio. The blinds cover tall windows. In front of the windows are wide shelves, which we use to display steel water bottles. Underneath these shelves are various product displays, including essential oils. I got the ladder out of the closet and propped it up next to one of the windows. Under this particular window is a clothing display rack that has a shelf on top. On this shelf sits (or sat) an adorable yoga dog statue and a bunch of Chakra candles. The rack is very unstable. Very, very unstable. I knew this because about an hour before I’d attempted to move it and saw how wobbly it was.
I was feeling guilty about my JNF. Simply put. As I approached that window I was so enmeshed in my guilt and embarrassment that I paid absolutely no attention when I moved the rack. Of course the dog statue broke – shattered actually – and all of the candles were damaged. In addition, some of the items fell onto the display of essential oils right next to the clothing rack. This created quite the racket and I stood there, mired in my guilt and embarrassment from earlier, now compounded by this latest debacle, and I was paralyzed. Fortunately, I work in a Yoga Studio, with Yogi’s. My co-worker was immediately at my side, taking the reigns to clean up, assuring me it was ok, I was ok, all was ok. When we finished cleaning up I took a peek at the essential oil table. I was terrified that, in addition to killing the beloved yoga dog, I’d shattered bottles of very expensive essential oils. When I asked my coworker about the oils she said “no problem. Nothing broke. In fact, only one fell. The one for forgiveness”.
I hate the word “forgiveness”. What does it mean? In my mind forgiveness is equivalent to acceptance. For example, if I were to “forgive” my ex I’d then have to “accept”, i.e. get over what he has done and make nice with him. Every time forgiveness has come up in my journey towards recovery I’ve thought of him. Who else, after all, do I have to forgive? I’ve long ago forgiven my parents, I have no ill-will towards anyone else that I can think of, so forgiveness must be intended for my ex, correct?
I imagine you already know the answer to this. Forgiveness is not for my ex, it is for me.
How do I do that? How do I forgive myself for being sensitive, when I hate that about myself? How do I forgive myself for engaging my inner Jack Nicholson when I hate that about myself? How do I accept all parts of me, those that I cherish as well as those I despise?
Yet again I reach the end of my blog with no answers, just questions. I can claim I’ve forgiven myself, accepted all parts of me, but that would be a lie. I do not forgive or accept myself for being, in my mind, an excellent cave-woman. Would you?