I just realized something. It seems like a fairly obvious something, but I think it is something we do not often - if ever - realize. Do you know the definition of a screw-up is? It is the perceived failure to live up to an expectation. Often, but not always, it stems from the disappointment of another that you failed to do what he or she thought was expected or required. Even when it comes from what seems to be a self-appointed expectation, its roots may be firmly planted in what another believed, and therefore it was what you were also taught to believe.
If you think about it, people have different ideas of what is "correct," and therefore expected, and yet we walk around thinking that our arbitrary beliefs are right so everyone must know what we know, and believe what we believe. So of course when a person does something outside of your limited parameters, the "correct" ones, at that, the other person can appear to have screwed up.
There are times that people will be told how they screwed up in no uncertain terms. Other times they will be treated differently, without a word because they violated some convention they either did not know about, or chose to ignore.
I have spent much of my life living in uncertainty, often wondering how you know what the "right" thing to do or say was. I have often kept my mouth shut, knowing I will get myself in trouble for saying what I really feel, which greatly implies that the way I look at things is flawed. This, after having had had that exact experience many times with those who disagreed with me.
Occasionally I would feel stifled, and occasionally I would desperately want to know how to say something in a way not to get into an argument. It was either that, or praying to somehow be shown the light of day, to be shown why I was perceived to be such an awful person at times, to be able to see things differently, so that there would be no conflict.
The way I have seen things has either made me delusional or self-centered. Neither definition flattering. It never was that I was "right," and I have been constantly at odds with myself for all of the times I apparently screwed up. Why couldn't I do better? What did I not know? I read so many books. I spent so much money on seminars. I heard more things that made me question myself more. I shed beliefs. I took on beliefs. I shed those beliefs. I came to see that things said did not seem to make sense, but that people could make sense of most anything. I came to see ideas of different people and belief systems being at potential odds with one another. Which one was right???
Before the diagnosis, I had silently been coming more and more to the place within myself that *I* was. However, once I was diagnosed, I felt differently. Being so close to dead I realized that if I could be dead tomorrow it really did not matter what I said or did today - I just thought it did. I felt empowered, but I also felt rather bitchy. I am sure some likely thought the label fit. I certainly felt like a girl with attitude. I hoped it would stick around, but in the back of my mind I suspected once I was back in the "real" world, I might not be quite the same.
It would be OK, if I could somehow find a balance. If I could learn to speak my mind, in spite of backlash. If I could find a way not to cower when feeling scolded for doing things wrong. If I could accept others doing what they did without judging them, or holding it against them. If I could stand up for who I was - ALL of me, the good, the bad, the ugly. I was going to stop questioning myself every time someone thought I had done wrong. Their opinion was no longer going to make me doubt or question myself.
The key turned out to be how I felt internally. If I felt OK inside, but others outside of me weren't OK, that would be different than if internally what I felt matched what another felt. Too many times in the past, there would be a part of me very unhappy with things because they would be a denial of self taking place.
In the process I have learned to say what I feel. Is it always logical? Does it always make sense? No and no. But I have learned to accept it because it is what it is. In cases where other people are involved, I will do my best to explain where I am at, and not try to counter where they are at. I have learned to as much as possible give people what I need, an acceptance of where they are.
How does it work when we are at odds? There are times it doesn't. The difference, for me, though, is that I am not left here in a shattered mess, questioning myself. I am much more OK with what does and does not happen, as long as I express the things I feel I need to express.
I have come to believe that a big part of our collective problems come from 2 things: not expressing how we feel, and not letting others know what we expect from them. If you are out with people, and you have an expectation that they act a certain way, then you need to let them know. It is not fair to expect that they will have the same ideas as you. Then, if they act differently than you would like, it would be good to say how you feel about it. Not, though, telling them they were jerks, but rather how YOU feel. Disappointed. Frustrated. Whatever the case may be. Get in touch with how you are feeling and affected. It gets it out of you, and allows for things to keep moving. Held internally, there can be resentment that builds up, anger, and it can affect you and others more than you realize.
Believe it, or not, there is a lot of freedom in saying what you feel. It diffuses so much. I had someone who let it out when it came to me, and I was calmer than I have ever been. Not defensive. Just listened and acknowledged what she had to say. Oddly now I only vaguely remember what was said.
People talk so much about being in the moment, but you can't be there if you carry stuff from the past with you.
For as much as things have gotten better for me, I still get frustrated because I can't interact with someone who isn't being communicative. If we have a shot of communicating with each other, it comes from a place of honesty, not a facade. It comes from saying what we feel, and allowing for how another feels. Sometimes it takes nothing more than that to move forward.
If you don't say what you really feel, it will likely become a stumbling block, or even a wall. If you say what you feel, then all kinds of things can happen - even good. So many times we think we know something, only to find out that what we thought isn't what it was at all, and then don't we feel stupid at times?
Have I perfected all of this? Hardly. But I suspect that the best I could ever hope for is something that takes me to the places where I better love and trust and get to know myself. It sounds selfish for us to say our lives are about us. But I think that the more we love and respect and appreciate ourselves, the more accessible we will be to those who will love and respect and appreciate us. Maybe life is a means to uncovering ourselves. Maybe the others in it play the necessary roles for us to get what we came for. Maybe the more we are true to who we are, the more we compel people to be who they are.
And...maybe, just maybe, the more true we are about ourselves and our lives, the richer and more loving and fulfilling our experience will be. Maybe the dance that we do that skirts who we are for whichever reason we choose is what has society looking the way it does.
We would be doing each other a huge favor by hearing another person's truth. It doesn't mean we have to agree with it, or even do anything with it, but it would be a start to something amazing; I am sure. And the reason I am sure is because I have seen how amazing it is to not only be able to say what I feel, and be acknowledged, but also how incredible it is to allow that for another. It opens things up in a way nothing else seems to.
Just because someone doesn't like something about me, doesn't mean that it is accurate. They may just think it is, based on whatever they think they know of me. It may also be that it is perfectly on target, too. But so what? Really. So what? Not everyone will like me or what I say or what I do. The only one that really matters is me. And, better yet, I don't have to pretend to be someone I am not. It is hard to walk around with a mask, don't you think?
I know I rub people the wrong way at times - especially when I don't play the games that many do. I think my frankness stuns people and is off-putting. It just feels so much nicer to pretend that things are so much nicer than they really are. The forced smiles. The pleasantries. The pseudo-relationships that are more a ploy for business opportunities. People say they want to connect so they do things that resemble things you might do when you connect, but since it is often a superficial means to an end, those involved are often left wanting.
I know I am not the only person who feels this way. I know I am not the only peron who wishes to be mask-free. I know I am not the only one who wants to be able to be freely and completely who she is. However, I am one of the few who has been startled awake by a disease that is intended to put me to sleep forever. It woke me up enough to see through the smoke and mirrors we use to delude ourselves into believing that we know anything with any certainty about this life we live.
I may seem rough around the edges, or even rough all round, but at least with me you pretty much get what you see. You know how I feel, and where I stand. There are no guessing games, and there is no second-guessing. And despite the fact that you may think that you prefer not to know certain things, I would be willing to bet there have been any number of times in your life that you wish people would be more like me, even just a little bit.
There are just so many things attached to so many other things, that the minute we hear something we don't like, it is easy to have buttons pushed. It takes practice to get to the place I describe. I haven't always been here. Who I am now has only a faint resemblance of who I was 10 years ago. Even the me of a year ago wasn't anywhere near the me of now.
When you feel like you have nothing to lose, that is when the freedom truly comes to be who you are. At least that is how it happened for me.
The "problem" I now face is how to be this person in a world of way too many who prefer I be the person who plays by all kinds of rules seen and unseen. For that reason, I don't blame one person for staying in the game. It certainly feels safer there. The only problem with that is a false sense of security that comes at the cost of pieces of yourself. They may seem small, but over time they have a way of adding up, and taking away huge chunks of soul that are gone before you even knew they were not only there, but suffering in silence.
At this point I would rather "screw up" than allow another piece of me to committ silent suicide, so I will continue to find my way along this path. If I do not live up to how you think I should be, or if you don't appreciate my emotions and feelings and reactions, or if you think less of me somehow because of how I am, I am not surprised. You certainly won't be the first, nor shall you be the last. Wherever you are in relation to me, odds are you are in good company.