When I worked in rehab, there came a time in many clients’ journeys when they stopped caring about working their treatment program. Confined to the facility’s three hallways, 7:50am wake up time, always having to remain within staff “line of site,” language censorship, and continual uprooting of every terrible thing that had ever happened to them, even the most penitent grew weary. We had a name for this. We would say the client had developed “a case of the fuck-its.” Instead of responding to staff correction, the once motivated client has decided, either verbally or non verbally, to “fuck it.” Give up. Stop trying. Once this happened, it was incredibly difficult to get the client to start caring again. Coming back from a case of the fuck-its is nearly impossible.
But for me, learning how to develop a case of the fuck-its is one of my greatest take aways from working in rehab. While my clients could hardly be considered role models, the name for their defiant behavior is somewhat descriptive of what I am learning to do in my own life. Something detrimental to their futures has proved greatly beneficial as I continue to pursue mine.
THE BEST BOOK I HAVE EVER READ is called Boundaries by Townsend and Cloud. (Just skip the first chapter because the writing is terrible. These men are obviously psychologists.) In my brief summary, this book tells you it’s okay to demand to be treated the way you know you should be treated. To let your internal sense of justice, so long as you are not being knowingly selfish, direct you. No longer do we bend over backwards to get people to love us. Either a relationship works or it does not, it is healthy or it is unhealthy. This book sets you free to stand up for yourself and to be yourself. Two things I have struggled with ever since I can remember.
Basically, this book taught me how to have “a case of the fuck-its,” in the best way. I say something unknowingly that might have offended someone. Fuck it. I laugh too loudly. Fuck it. I make a choice I think a lot of people will disapprove of. Fuck it.
I am going to be myself. I am going to laugh too loudly. I am going to do things and people are going to think I am doing it wrong. I am going to offend people. If people are so unforgiving of my mistakes, it is perhaps better for them not to be in my life at all.
As someone who truly loves and wants what’s best for others, the fuck-its do not come naturally to me. I would much rather sit with you in your crap and let you beat me up with your insecurities and let you take advantage of me while I change myself to cater to your needs. Because that feels like love. That feels like compassion. Telling you you’re hurting me, or hurting others, feels mean. Telling you you are stifling someone’s freedom to express themselves seems drastic. It feels sharp. As someone known for being blunt, actually being blunt, in many situations, mainly the ones where it is most needed, does not come easily to me. But that’s when I have to stop caring about the other person’s feelings and instead focus on this new sense of identity being cultivated within me. (And on the fact that sometimes loving someone means putting them in their place.)
In a way, I sort of think these rehab kids were onto something. We are both trying to live up to rules and standards we feel incapable of achieving. Once we realize our efforts will never be good enough, we throw in the towel. It’s when we are at our end that the redemption Jesus offers can begin. If I’m honest, Jesus often does not become a viable option for me until I have exhausted all my own means first.
Maybe, just maybe, Jesus WANTS us to develop a case of the fuck-its. Maybe that’s when we finally take a breath and step out in faith that we can trust Jesus with ourselves. Our bold, beautiful, messy, here-I-am-I-hope-this-works, selves. Because finally we are no longer in bondage to other people.
It’s possible there is better language for all of this, maybe even a bible verse I could repeat over and over again that would give me strength. But for now this is what I have. And this is how I say it. I am realizing God absolutely adores me, just as I am, honesty and non-PCness included. Sometimes, I actually think God cares more that we get the point of what he is teaching us, and rest is just semantics. I could be wrong. But in this moment, I don’t really care.
I mean, whatever. Fuck it.