This old dog is learning new tricks, and let me tell you that although it's possible, the growing pains are killer! Though I manage to be mostly aloof on the outside, I'm an overly sensitive soul. Learning to be kind and love in spite of deep hurt and others' actions has been a doozy of a process. Still, I'm working on it because I have looked at the world in black and white for so long, seeing things from only my perspective, lacking compassion and flexibility, and seriously limiting my own happiness because of it.
The biggest challenge for me has been letting go. Letting go of past damage, letting go of anger and hurt feelings, letting go of what once was and finding a way to love what is now. I am overwhelmed by this need to release a poison that has built up over the years. One of the big stumbling blocks for me in letting go has been my need for a type of "justice". Like the people who hurt me deserve punishment and that holds me back, keeping me trapped as I watch obsessively and wait for their karmic retribution. When it doesn't come, I get angrier and angrier. It's unfair! Why does life throw me curve balls and challenges galore and these assholes are living it up?! This is where a new perspective comes in. I only see what's on the surface. I only get pieces of information. They could be struggling in their own way and I have no clue. And even more, who am I to determine what someone else's karma should be? Instead of internalizing the lack of "justice" and questioning whether or not I deserved to be treated a certain way, thus questioning myself and my value constantly, I'm trying to find the lesson for myself in the situation and moving on. Retraining my brain to view things differently in this regard has reminded me every time you fall, you have to get back up. And let me tell you, I fall a lot!
Next up is defensiveness. When I find out someone has said something untrue about me, I feel the need to defend myself. The problem is, I'm not changing anyone's mind. I'm not making the lies disappear. They're still in the eyes of the person who heard them, viewing me through someone else's filter. I hate it. The more I defend myself, the more I appear desperate to prove someone wrong, thus coming off as phony. Another hard lesson I'm learning is that people are going to have their opinions, and people are going to say awful things that you know to be completely off the mark. And yes, people are often going to believe those lies because they don't know any better. 99% of the time you have to just let it be. (Not easy to do, I'm finding, but very worth it.) Let them say what they want, true or otherwise, because the people who really know you will see right through the bullshit. Those who are swayed by someone else's story aren't people you want in your circle anyway. They're the people who will stab you in the back without thinking twice; who will walk away when you need them the most. My mantra when working on this aspect of my personality is "what other people think of you is none of your business". This is a hard-fought battle within myself, but I'm fighting none-the-less.
Finally comes judgement. My favorite thing about my Granny Ritz was that when I came along, she was at a point in her life where she was so loving and accepting. She was the least judgmental person I have ever known. I loved that about her because it felt like any mistakes I made, she didn't care. She knew my heart, my intentions, and accepted me for all the flaws. It wasn't just me, either. I saw time and again how she could meet someone many people would look down upon with disdain and condemnation, but she treated them as an equal. As I've grown, I've found myself being ridiculously judgmental. In recent months, I've begun digging deeper and realizing that my "need" to judge other people was completely based in insecurity. I had to find flaws in others to feel good about myself. When I had this epiphany, I felt instant disgust. This isn't how it should be. If I'm going to feel good about myself, it needs to be based on my own merits as a human being. It has nothing to do with how other people choose to live their lives or choices and mistakes others have made. Their decisions have nothing to do with me, but my decisions have everything to do with me. How do I feel when people look at me and judge me before knowing me? I feel awful. I feel 2 feet tall, dirty, and stupid. So why on Earth would I want to make anyone else feel like that?! I've been surprised at how easy it has been to let go of this bad habit.
Interestingly enough, my Mom was unwittingly instrumental in my change of thinking. She is someone who I have judged harshly for the majority of my teenage and adulthood. Granted, she's made some horrible life choices, but helping her handle things now that she's not in a capacity to do so has shown me that in spite of the grudge I was holding against her for the shortcomings in her parenting, she does have good qualities. She's extremely giving and forgiving. However, she's made so many bad choices in her life and hurt so many people with her addiction and co-dependence, she has no one. Here she is with a very large tumor in her brain, in the early stages of dementia, living in adult foster care with elderly people while she is only 54 years old, and I am the only person who is there for her. She has occasional visits from 2 of her 11 siblings, one of those siblings lives 2+ hours away and makes time to visit when she can, but otherwise I'm it. Seeing and feeling that kind of abandonment for past mistakes reminds me why I need to stop being so damn judgmental and be more accepting. We've all got things in our past that we're not proud of, and we all continually make mistake after mistake as we try to navigate through life. None of us are perfect, least of all me, and unless you have absolutely no flaws, you have no right to judge someone else for being imperfect.
This deep introspection, over-thinking, and eventual and gradual change has taken a lot of my energy, which is a big reason why I haven't written much lately. To counter this, and pull myself out of my head for a minute, I'll be participating in the A-Z blog challenge next month. I have sat the last 2 years out, but it's time to get in the swing of things. Time to post about less deep, dark, or depressing topics, maybe try to be less wordy, and have some fun. So that's that. This old bitch is learning all sorts of new tricks. I hope anyone reading this will follow along for the roller coaster ride. If not, that's cool, too. Not everyone is cut out for this level of crazy.