This will be the first of two posts today.
The last few years, as previously mentioned, have been not a little challenging. I made up my mind a long time ago to let the challenging times, that’s a nicer way of saying the bad times or the hard times, make me a better person, not a bitter one. I wasn’t ever a person to hang onto a hurt. I’d acknowledge it, feel whatever I felt, but I’d move on from that sort of thing pretty quickly because hanging onto it, that keeps you stuck. It’s taken me a while to understand why I was hanging onto some hurts, how that happened, how I got into a mindset that was taking me down the lonely road to bitterness! That’s an actual road. Some of it had to do with unrealistic expectations, of myself, of other people, and of life. We’ve been through some tough times, trying times. But, those unrealistic expectations I had, they existed because I didn’t realize how hurt, and scared, I already was, that there were some hurts that I really hadn’t let go of or even understood yet, and that I was carrying that with me, and then trying to create, hoping and expecting to create, a “perfect world” in which no more hurt could ever occur or happen to me again, where everyone always behaved properly, never took advantage, appreciated things accordingly, had the proper amount of respect for things that are sacred to most everyone, home, marriage, children, livelihood or one’s work, personal property that was worked very hard for, personal privacy, and so on, the things that you would think that everyone takes seriously, and wants respected. For many years I was also very protective and private because of certain situations in my life that have since resolved themselves in one way or another, some things run their course. In other words, I wasn’t actually closed off, but, being a mature person who is also a mother, well, it wasn’t all just about me, not ever. I had very definite ideas about parenting my child and how to conduct that. If other people didn’t agree with, or understand those things, decisions, that is something I will never be sorry for. There were also Norman Rockwell type holiday family dinners involved in those expectations, ideas, or imaginings, where no one took sideswipes at anyone else, ever, everyone loved and appreciated one another, friends were exceedingly loyal to a fault, the bird was never too dry, and certainly, no one was ever trying to turn everything into a joke, or telling you to lighten up because you were so wanting this fairy-tale, this unshattered dream, no one was ever fighting or passing out in the Azaleas, breaking grandma’s swan that’s been on the mantel for years, and so on. That isn’t even including all of the things in life that there’s no way to plan for and that you never see coming, like illness. And every time a new “betrayal” or hurt happened to me, or in my world, my world shrank. It’s one of those things where it’s a self-protective kind of a mechanism, because a person doesn’t want to be hurt anymore, or simply can’t absorb another hurt, but it ends up having the opposite effect at some point, and it ends up being hell on everyone around, and hurting others, because people are only perfectly imperfect.
It gets to be hell because there’s no way to make it perfect. There’s no perfect thing that if it was just this thing then it would all be all right or all right again. Then its walking on eggshells over everything, because still hanging onto some hurt. You can be protective of something into oblivion. Sometimes people are so afraid of something being taken away from them that they’ll destroy it from the inside out without meaning to. Sometimes, when you have something really good, it can be difficult not to be afraid. And then how do you trust something good again after a difficult time?
Closing oneself off from life, from the world, however, because other people have hurt you, isn’t the answer. It’s kind of a strange thing for me to say because it’s obviously something I’m pretty well versed in, but, life is often quite messy. Therein, too, has been some of the issue, because I’ve been one of those people who has tended to think that life is messy because people are messy, so, don’t be messy. Again, unrealistic expectations, in general, I’ve been messy too sometimes. The thing is, that sort of thing can be contagious, etc. and so on. Would the perfect world be the one with no other people in it? Adam and Eve alone together in the Garden, without the interference of the devil? Would it be Henry Bemis, “Time Enough at Last” in The Twilight Zone, with an unbroke pair of glasses and all of those books? Would the perfect world be the one with not that many other people around? It often happens that people get to feeling that way and they go off to live places where there aren’t quite so many other people, and, there’s something to be said for that in some regard. But, even in places where there’s only say, a hundred people, percentage wise, there’s still going to be those one or two jerks.
“Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, be sure you’re not surrounded by assholes.” ~ quote usually attributed to William Gibson
People, can be baffling. But, if you’re closing yourself off, don’t expect the world to miss you, to care, or even to understand it.
However, if you’re closing yourself off from the world to the point where you’re not doing things that you want to do, well, then you’re the one who is missing out on your own life. I wasn’t a closed off, fearful person, far from it, I was the exact opposite of fearful and closed off, but I did become that way. I’m also the only person who can fix that. That’s really important to accept responsibility for. I am the only person who can fix it. Like quitting drinking, taking better care of myself, it’s something that I’m looking at and wondering, when did this happen? How did this happen? I was never this closed-off, fearful person. I am the only person who can fix it. People will always be people. The world will always be the world. There’s a lot of good out there too. I am, once again, making the conscious choice to let it make me better, not bitter, and live.