Monday, April 7, 2014

I Can't Be...

I can't be the only one.

I can't be the only one who gets frustrated with the well-meaning fix-it society we live in.

I know I am not the only one when I see others voicing their frustrations with how they are treated. For one, it was how she was treated with the loss of a child. For another, it was about how she was treated with the loss of a job.

There have to be countless stories of times that people who meant well just sucked. Odds are they just didn't know any better. It's like when I voiced concern about what was going to happen to my hair, and a person tells me, "well then you'll know how I feel."

In the midst of whatever is happening, the last thing a person needs is to be fixed.

The LAST thing.

A couple of days ago someone was down, and I took a chance at cracking a joke, but only after I whole-heartedly agreed with their situational perspective. How she took it, I do not know. Of course, I hope well. The joke was ridiculous. Sometimes the ridiculous can do nothing but make one laugh.

Another time, someone was speaking about something quite seriously. I cracked another joke - one I thought was obviously a joke - that she took seriously. After she responded seriously I told her, "Oops. That was supposed to be a joke. It was supposed to make you laugh. Ha. Ha. Sorry about that." I said it without being upset. I said it without an expectation on her part. I said it to alleviate any pressure she may have been feeling.

And then...she laughed, heartedly.

The telling of jokes at a difficult time is risky business. At the same time, they can be the perfect relief valve if they land the right way. The key, I think, is to understand and empathize first, and then - if you must - attempt the joke without any expectation.

It is difficult to see a person in a state of upset. We know all too well what it feels like. But the problem is that we are so focused on how much that sucks, that we forget what it feels like to be on the receiving end of another's good intentions in a moment like that. We also probably feel a level of that person's discomfort, and want to correct it as soon as we can, so we feel better.

Many times when someone hears I have been dealing with cancer, their first words are, "I'm sorry to hear that." My reply? "Yeah. Me, too."

My guess is that people are likely surprised by that comment. Most people would say thank you, or something else. I don't remember when I first started to do it, but it just felt right to say. It kind of diffuses the situation for me, and hopefully it takes the person enough off guard that they don't go where most likely would go. I then try to steer the conversation to a place of normalcy ASAP. Yes - cancer is involved, but it is only a piece of who I am and my situation. It isn't the everything some would make it out to be.

I think people probably don't know what to do with me much of the time because I don't want to play the games we play. I speak bluntly. I say things as they are. I don't sugarcoat. I'd also like to think that I am speaking more from a place of "what is" versus a place of judgment.

As I say that, I think about an episode of HIMYM that I was watching last night. There was a scene in which two of the characters were sleepy, and listening to a third. The camera shows their perspective of the third person as distorted. You really can't see or hear the person - except for a an image or word or two. I have to wonder if there are times that people who hear me talk about cancer have that experience with me. I have to wonder how much they actually hear me say.

There have been other times during the show that they show a scene more than once from a different person's perspective, and it can be the total opposite experience. They hear different words and different intonations. Things occur differently, and yet both are convinced they have it right. How many times does someone hear me say cancer, but then hear the rest of the conversation through a filter of what they have experienced in regard to it, or through what they think they know about it?

I think there are times that how I am is likely not received well. I saw someone post recently about how some people are so rude. I have no idea who they were talking about, but I thought about my recent posts. I wondered if they could have read them, and been thinking of me.

I wouldn't want to be perceived as rude, but I think that addressing the things that make us feel uncomfortable can often be experienced as rude. Part of being rude is perceived as being inappropriate. Many would think it inappropriate to say what you truly feel, to express how much it sucks when people interact with you in a way that isn't helpful. After all the people were trying to help.

The problem with that idea, if there is one, is that there is a layer of denial when we don't say what we really feel. We have a denial of self, and we all know how it feels. We often have an all or nothing approach. We either bundle it up and hold it in, or we let it out and appear to be inappropriate. There doesn't seem to be much middle ground.

Middle ground would involve us being able to say what we feel without another person taking it personally. If I tell you how I feel about something, odds are you had no way of knowing it ahead of time. I am not going to hold it against you personally. Instead I am more interacting with how I feel, while simultaneously sharing it with you. That is different than my taking it out on you, or telling you you are a bad person. However, there is a chance you could hear it as a rejection, and be upset with me for saying what I did.

It is this way of interacting with things that does us no favors. I have been learning how important it is to just be myself. I have been learning how important it is to allow others to say and do what they say and do, too. If it doesn't affect me, then I tend to mostly observe. If it does affect me, then I tend to try to figure out what I am interacting with, and do my best to be responsible for what is internally happening.

When I listen to others, I do my best to respect where another is. Ironically, perhaps, the fact that I would say how I really feel about something would have some thinking that I have a lack of respect. However, I think there are times that we do not realize that a difference of opinion does not equate to a lack of respect.

Having said all of this, I should also say that there really might be times that I am indeed rude. To which I want to ask, "So what?" We all have our moments. As far as I know no one is perfect, and the times that we are pseudo-perfect only wind up taking a toll. Might it be better to express ourselves in an unflattering way than not to express ourselves at all?

I have gotten to the point that I see that there is too great of a cost not to be myself. Does it cost me in other ways? Sometimes. But not everyone is repelled. There are actually people who seem to be drawn to me because of who and how I am, even in my roughest forms. They certainly are not the majority, and there are times I do feel quite isolated.

But, here's the thing - my guess is is that I am not alone in my desire to be who I truly am. My guess is that people are threatened by the idea of dispelling the bubble that is their life. They are afraid of what it would mean if they could be seen for who they truly are. There is a part of them that thinks there is something wrong or unacceptable about themselves because they are this hidden way. And yet, the person they hide is not only who they are, but it is a person that is deserving of love and respect. It also deserves to see the light of day. Odds are this person is not unlike the hidden selves of others, as well.

Over the last several years there is something that I noticed as I spoke with my hypnosis and coaching clients in the over 10,000 calls I had, and that was that we all have a part of ourselves that we hide. That part is very similar to the part that others have, too. The thing is that we all walk around publicly judging it, and acting like we don't have it, so it makes others think that if we don't have it, then why should they have it? As a result, many of us wind up thinking there is something wrong with us because of what we superficially hold as truth.

I know I can't be the only one that has felt inner turmoil over the years. I know I can't be the only one who has been at odds with herself as she struggled to interact with who she was expected to be. I know I can't be the only one who has had glimpses of things behind the cracks of the masks of others.

I won't say it is easy to be on this road. Actually, I would even say it is quite difficult. But what I will say is that because of being on this road I have gotten to the point that I have which allows me to fully accept and embrace and love myself all at the same time. And if others love and accept and embrace me, at least I know that they're embracing who I truly am, and not who I pretend to be so that I appear to be liked and accepted by a greater number of people.

I really cannot tell you what a relief it is. As I sit here and think about a way to describe it, all I can think about is how light and freeing the feeling is. Having to be someone you're not takes a lot of time and energy. Pushing down parts of yourself takes a lot of time and energy. Putting other people back into that place takes a lot of time and energy.

When you realize that you may be running out of time, you begin to realize that not everything is worthy of your time. You begin to realize a lot of things you never realized before, and you upset many apple carts. For many life is an illusion that is to be guarded at all costs. When you start to rattle the cage you are in, others may hear you, but probably would want you to remain silent. You may wake them up, too.

Once awake, it will be next to impossible to go back to sleep. At this point, I can't imagine being any other way. The idea of being anything like I used to be is quite unsettling, actually. I think it would definitely cost me my life. It is quite possible it was costing my life before, I just didn't know it.

We may think we are preserving ourselves by the games we play, but I can't help but wonder if it is a form of sabotage. We certainly are sabotaging the part of us that is called SELF, as it barely, if ever, gets to see the light of day when we play by anyone else's rules but our own.

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