Saturday, May 9, 2009

Musings on pride and bronchitis

So, I have bronchitis, and this spurred me to buy a chick lit book.

I mean, there was nothing else I could really do. I watched three episodes of LOST. I slept for over 16 hours. I can't go to a movie theater because it's rude to go to a place where people expect silence and fill it with the sounds of you hacking up a lung.

I finally went to a coffee shop because I needed to get out of the house and I'd heard that coffee dilates the bronchial tubes. This guy kept staring at me. Usually I interpret that to mean he might find me attractive, however today I think he was concerned that I should perhaps be in a hospital and not sitting across from him appearing as though I might have The Swine Flu.

I'd read 314 pages of this book yesterday, and saved the last 60 for today, finishing it at the café. I am unable to share the title because it resonated with my life so much that if I were to name it, someone could easily research it and find out one of my secrets. Plus it's somewhat embarrassing to resonate with a book that has a picture of a charm bracelet, complete with lock and key, on the cover.

The thing is — I enjoyed it. The book made me think about the subject of pride. One of the things I've been struggling with recently is my intense, unperturbed Leo pride. I read once, "The Leo woman’s pride is always at stake, and no matter how loudly she roars, her ego is delicate and fragile."

I used to be a person who spouted her emotions at unsuspecting loved ones at any given opportunity. Sometimes I wonder if people back in Maryland and D.C. would even recognize me now. I recently visited a friend in New York who met me in my early college years, and he told me that I've changed so much — that he can tell just from the way I talk about things and myself now — and I took it as a huge compliment.

But in addition to the more positive aspects of my growth since coming to Boulder, I've turned completely around and instead of upchucking my frustrations at people I'm involved with in an annoying and theatrical emo manner, I now keep them hidden and pretend not to care if they hurt me. Especially if they really hurt me.

My ex, who was a long-term recipient of my emotional upchucking, called me today and said: "Amy, I know you're trying to 'hippy' the bronchitis out of you, but I think you should stop trying to scare it away with patchouli and go get some medicine."

I am lucky he still talks to me, let alone calls and makes me laugh, or rather, make noises similar to laughing but sound more like the last wheezes of a dying animal.

What's ended up happening is that I've exchanged putting fem-angst lyrics in public journal entries in a passive-aggressive attempt to equate them with my life, for hardened smiles, for "it's fine," for the idea that not letting someone see you cry is a victory. And I'm not sure it's much better.

Someone just wrote to me, "Pride is the mirror image of shame." Once I get over my initial proud defensiveness triggered by this statement, I interpret this to mean: I have feelings that I am ashamed of. And so I use my pride to mask them, as a defense mechanism. Because I can swallow them easier if they come in the form of pride.

What is the point of pride? What do you end up keeping at the sake of what you end up losing? Isn't pride just a squeezing in of yourself? And, how do you know when it becomes suffocating?


  1. The reason I said that about shame/pride is that they both can be damaging at a macro level. For example, jingoism leads to torture. Shame leads to victim-ism. Politically, the right tends to overvalue pride and undervalue shame, and the left does the opposite.

    Wondering how I managed to turn this into a post about politics...

    Hope you feel better soon.

  2. Ah, I see why you passed up the opportunity to meet the TAL guy. Feel better.

  3. @Derek Scruggs - Well, I'm glad you could do so. :) Thanks for your thoughts.

    @stephenehpets - For quite a while I was trying to figure out what you meant; I kept thinking you were referring to the live TAL show and Ira. But, you meant yesterday and your friend the TAL contributor! Yes, sorry - I hope you had a good time and I can meet him some other time when I won't scare him off.

  4. Amy, this is a fantastic post. Pride is so interesting. I attribute my own pride to be coupled closely with my stubbornness. Sometimes if I don't want to act on an emotion, it's because I have too much pride and am stubborn. I would rather stick it out than just sticking up for that emotion.

    I think you put it perfectly, "I have feelings that I am ashamed of. And so I use my pride to mask them, as a defense mechanism."

    In the end however, I think that pride holds you back. It has many different levels (ie: not admitting you're wrong, blaming someone else, being defensive) but in the end, letting go of that piece of ego and pride can be somewhat freeing. Thanks for sharing Amy. I loved this post!

  5. @Grace Boyle - You're right, pride does hold you back. I'm still trying to figure out when it will be worth it to sacrifice it, and when emotions are better left being dealt with solely within ourselves. If you figure it out, let me know. :)