Making it through the night

Joey Garcia

In the middle of the night, young, intoxicated revelers cover the sidewalk in front of my home, hollering about what party they are going to next. They are obnoxious, loud and inconsiderate. When I ask them to quiet down, they ignore me. I go inside and call the police, then cry from frustration. Perhaps, at 29 years old, I am just the crazy mom in the robe, jealous of their youth, lack of responsibility and sexual activity? Perhaps they are just jerks? Clearly, after a year of this, I need to move. But in the meantime, how can I make peace with the revelers and use this as a catalyst for spiritual growth?

Stop arguing with yourself. When roused from sleep by the sound of young drunks, your first thought might be: “They should shut up and leave.” Of course they don’t, which means you can either continue to argue against reality or you can choose to accept the noise and mitigate it with compassion. I recommend the second option; it’s less stressful.

Here are some ways to employ it: wear one or two ear plugs to bed, put a sign on your lawn letting partiers know that you need your sleep, or call the police at the first sign of noise and notify your City Council member about the late-night aural assaults. Do all of this with the good humor of one who remembers what it is like to be young and believe you own the world at night.

Now, let’s address those tears of frustration. Having such a strong emotional response alerts you to the deeper issue: powerlessness. You cannot control the way these young people intrude into your home life and that stimulates feelings of being victimized. It might help to remember that their noisemaking is not meant to harm you personally. Neither is their lack of concern about startling people awake. Chalk it up to the egocentrism of (some) youth. Then reflect on other times you felt powerless. Mentally restore your self-confidence by re-imagining the story without a victim or victimizer. Just see people making choices. Ask yourself what you need (that you can give to yourself) to feel peace. If moving is the answer, go!

I can’t find security in friendships or romantic relationships. I am not sure who I am anymore. I used to I feel more confident and certain about myself. I tend to be less tolerant of people and feel like I am not valued as a person or friend. I know that my flaws are quite noticeable and I get more nervous in social situations making it difficult to carry a normal conversation. Over the last year I have also lost a few good friends over things that I can’t understand. Please help!

Relationships by nature are insecure. Sometimes it is because people are fragile or volatile. Or they seek things from others that cannot be given. For example, using a relationship to define yourself limits who you are. Being a friend may be one of your roles in life, but more importantly it is a window through which you can observe yourself. That way you can make adjustments to your personality and behavior that allow you greater freedom to be compassionate toward yourself, others and the world.

Reduce your anxiety by understanding that if you value yourself as a person or a friend, you will feel more confident and certain about yourself. And if you stop believing that there is something wrong with you, conversations will flow with ease. Learn to be a friend to yourself and gradually you will draw into your life the kind of people who can be good friends to you.

Meditation of the week
“Sacramento is basically a suburb with a downtown,” said my friend Gale Hart as we headed back to Sac from an afternoon in San Francisco. It’s sad, but true. When will you reach your full potential?

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