Recurrent Martyr

“That’s OK.  I’m not stupid.  I know you want to hurt me.   I’ve been hurt many times before.”

I know how to transcend pain.  I know how to be focused and stoic and appropriate.  But that comes at a cost.

Deep, down, though, the pain I have gone through is written deep into my soul.   It’s so deep that it threads through all my experiences, coming up quickly as recalled and stored distress that I have no way to discharge.

With small irritations my martyrdom comes up, stopping me and dragging me to the floor.   The experience of denying myself in order to serve is always just a heartbeat away for me, and it hurts, tapping into a long lifetime of pain.

A martyr is somebody who suffers persecution and death for advocating, renouncing, refusing to renounce, and/or refusing to advocate a belief or cause, usually a religious one.

A martyr and a guru are two sides of the same coin.  A powerful memory doesn’t just let me find the good, it also means I can remember the bad, the silencing attacks, the broken promises, the acting out, the casual slights,

“That’s OK.  I’m not stupid.  I know you want to hurt me.   I’ve been hurt many times before.”

Every time I try again it is a triumph over my damn history, over the very low levels of latent inhibition that keep me aware and connected.

I learned early that explaining why I am feeling what I am feeling at your suggestion is a counterproductive and pointless exercise.   You don’t have time to deal with my feelings, and if the history involves you, you don’t want to be reminded of past failures.

You want me to suck it up, swallow my experience and just open myself again, trusting that this time history won’t repeat itself, that this time I won’t be hurt again.

Because I know it is not your intention to hurt me, that you are trying to be kind and present, if I can, I do push past my memories and go.

Unfortunately, though, many, many times, history repeats itself.   The old patterns I have learned so well to recognize just play out again.

“You aren’t self-sabotaging,” TBB told me.  “You just see what is happening very quickly, and usually, you are right.”

You get martyred often enough and the picture becomes quite clear.  You can see it coming right down 42d Street, but getting out of the way means getting out of the way of possibility, too, so you grin and grit and stand there once again, trying for transcendence.

My martyr experiences started when I was very young, under the age of eight.  I was always pointing out inconvenient truths, so my name in the family became “Stupid,” used by everyone until the counsellor I saw when I was in seventh grade suggested to my parents that it wasn’t really appropriate, kind or useful.

“That’s OK.  I’m not stupid.  I know you want to hurt me.   I’ve been hurt many times before.”

I am more than aware that calling myself a star, a guru and a martyr may seem grandiose and self-deluding.  Some may argue that I just need a more proportionate sense of self to more effectively assimilate into community, that my problem is my inflated self-image which blocks me from healthy integration into the group.   Play smaller, they would tell me, and your problems will go away.

That is not my experience.   I have learned true humility and service, but my experience is still that of being too hip for the room, of having nobody who gets the joke.

How much martyr can one person take?   How many times can you resurrect yourself and try again?  How can you triumph over your experience and your scars when they bind you too much?

“That’s OK.  I’m not stupid.  I know you want to hurt me.   I’ve been hurt many times before.”

I hate it when I feel the martyr flare up again, reminding me both of real pain and of the obligation to put it aside to try and connect with and serve others who are just trying to share with me in the best way they possibly can.   They can’t be held responsible for my history, or even for my history directly with them, because doing so would block any new possibilities.  They are, after all, only human, just like me.

Holding open the space for their transformation, being open to them one more time to assist in their growth and healing is the most divine choice that I can make.   I know that if I stand for the possibility of change in the world, I have to committed to allowing people the opportunity for change.  Shutting them down is shutting down my own commitment to rebirth and resurrection.

There are, however, limits to what any martyr can endure before the body just can’t take it anymore.   “And by a sleep, to say we end the Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks that Flesh is heir to?

“That’s OK.  I’m not stupid.  I know you want to hurt me.   I’ve been hurt many times before.”

And every single day, I need to decide if I can stand to be hurt again.

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