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  • I guess I am telling tales on myself.

    When someone gives me unsolicited advice, I "go through a lot of changes," as they used to say back in the day.

    My first reaction is anger.

    Under the anger is fear.

    Under the fear is sadness.

    Under the sadness is shame.

    Under the shame is deep grief.

    Under the grief is separation.

    And these are all mixed up in a big soup of feelings.

    I feel angry because I assume that the person giving advice is setting themselves up as an "EXPERT" and implying that they know more about my problems than I do. I imagine that they think I am too stupid to figure out my own problems and that I need their help because I am flawed. I feel as if I am being spoon-fed cod-liver oil laced with carcinogens and feces and I want to spit it out, push it away.

    My next reaction is fear--fear that they are right, fear that I am flawed. Fear that I can NOT do anything right.

    Now I am sad. It is sad to feel so useless as to need advice you didn't want or ask for. To be that low and worthless.

    I feel a sense of deep shame that I am so flawed and that this person forcing their advice on me has discovered my flaws, maybe even before I have. And I experience shame about my anger and my (often) failure to control it.

    Then there is grief, deep grief, because I am so flawed I feel UNWORTHY of love. How can anyone, including myself, love a person that flawed?

    I feel alienated from myself, from others, from person jamming their advice at me. I feel alone, cut off, abandoned. Lost.

    It takes days to sort through all this, and meanwhile, I can't sleep, which doesn't help.

    Brian says advice has been rendered obsolete by the internet--if we need something, we can look it up. But that information hasn't filtered into the minds of advice givers.

    My friend Heidi says to try to look at advice, even bad advice, as the caring of a person who wants to show love but doesn't know how. I can't seem to remember that, however, when someone pushes my buttons by offering unsolicited advice. I tend to fly off the handle and into a rage that lasts several days before I calm down and see that I am indeed the one acting stupid, just like I feared.

    Next, I have to embrace those monsters, anger, fear, sadness, shame, grief, and alienation, and own them lovingly. Then, maybe I can make amends to the people who have offered me unsolicited advice.

    I'm sorry, friends, I apologize. I feel outside your love, outside my own. Don't tell me how to fix it, though, please. Just give me a hug and a smile. I'm crying again. Sometimes, being human (so unbearably human) hurts too much and is too damn difficult.


    (Hey--at least I'm not bored!!!)

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