I would never have claimed my artist self. I would never have taken my cross-country trip. I would never have written my book. I would never have become so outspoken. I would never have been so publicly raw. I would never have gotten to know who I truly am - and even better, live long enough to like the person I am.
I have spent so much of my life doubting myself because those around me would find who I was to be unsuitable in some way, there is the thought that if "that" many others think something, then maybe (really, more "likely") you have a blind spot, and you obviously need to work on it.
The problem was, a part of me was just smart enough to realize that they weren't really "right," but wasn't quite able to figure out how to get the rest of me to know it and be OK with it, especially since there were costs to that recognition.
So what did I do? I half-assed things in the name of "trying." I did not think that was what I was doing, but that was the only solution I had at the time, and it wasn't a very good one. It still was never enough. I could never seem to be, do, or say the right thing. The alternative was to silence myself, often walking on eggshells trying to avoid any potential land mines.
It would seem to make sense, then, that I would have a hard time being around the people who made me feel this way. And, yet, there was an expectation. Even thinking of it now has me aware of the knots in my stomach. The contortions I would sometimes go through just to make a show.
Dealing with cancer changed everything. Someone said it gave me permission to be a bitch (or something like that) - and it wasn't meant in a "good" way.
Dealing with cancer woke me up. It helped me see how much energy it took to be someone I wasn't to please other people I probably would never/could never please, short of being the person they thought I should be - given the version in front of them apparently was deemed inferior and unacceptable.
All the while I was going through the things I was, they, too, we're going through their stuff. It was never stuff they expressed, though. They weren't even being who they truly were, as they were trying to have me be someone I wasn't.
The part of me that is now labelled "bitch" is the part of me that just won't play the game any more. I say what I feel. I do not try to be someone I am not. The "pretend" part of who I am is gone. I won't be a certain way in the name of convention or shoulds. That doesn't work very well for those who live their lives within those parameters.
In the past, I could all too easily be drawn into an argument that neither me nor the other person could win. We just couldn't see eye to eye on pretty much anything. There is no winning an argument when the other person has zero interest in seeing things the way you do. One says the sky is grey, the other says the sky is blue, and all "conversational" points stay within their perspective skies. You get no where very fast.
In the past, though, I would feel the need to defend whatever I thought needed defense. If there was an argument, it was because inevitably I was wrong about something. So I could very easily be drawn into the verbal boxing ring. "Here we go again..." Often the alternative would be avoidance/silence, but that, too, was "wrong."
So now, in the present, I handle things differently. You say the sky is yellow? Well, you know what? I will acknowledge that is what you feel and believe, and I will not try to say otherwise. Even if in that belief there is an inherent belief that what I think is wrong, I no longer care to fight that battle, or defend myself. I also have a strong need for people to acknowledge my reality, so it only seems "right" that I would stop trying to convince you that my reality of your reality is the one you should be observing.
The "funny" thing about this approach? People think you aloof, indifferent, uncaring - a bitch.
So even when I am doing something I truly feel the world needs more of, and something I think that is positive and affirming, I am not seen in a positive way. The only way I might "win" is to forfeit myself in totality, but I am not convinced that once you give a person what they think they want, it really works, either. What they think they want may not even be anything like what they really want at all.
All I could ask from anyone at this point is to stop judging me, and to allow me my reality. It really is that simple. At least in word. It is also what I do my best to offer up others in the process of my daily life. The thing is, though, sometimes when a person points to things that make another uncomfortable, it may be taken as judgment, even when there is none inherent.
I think we really need to be able to speak our truth without it creating issues with others. One of the only ways we could do that is if we knew it was safe to do that. If we knew we wouldn't be attacked, put down, or judged. Just because we have a certain version of reality that another (or even many others) may disagree with does not makes us wrong.
As I write this, my mind goes to some extreme places. There would be some who would likely take issue with what I just said, and say there are likely to be cases in which that statement is not absolute. The fact is, I would not want to argue that point. I would not want an extreme example to negate an idea that likely could be beneficial in many other instances.
In our need to be absolute about so much, our all or nothing attitude, I believe, does us an incredible disservice. So anyone can say whatever they want to say, and take whatever they want to take. I am just not feeling a need to spend energy to have a conversation that likely will go no where. Someone who is likely to pick on one piece of something is probably not likely going to allow other ideas to dispel what they believe. I suspect, perhaps unconsciously, they even pick it because they "know " they can win it. So there is no way they are going to let themselves "lose" any argument they may start.
It's just a theory. So who knows if I am "right?" It just kind of makes sense to me in this moment. Maybe moments from now, I will see things differently. You just never know what might show up that can alter the directions of your thoughts and beliefs.
Everything can change in a heartbeat, even those things we never imagined being anything but they have always been. And, just maybe, we are at our best when we recognize the impermability of life and all of its aspects. We just think we are somehow at our worst because that is when we stop trying to be anything or anyone that we are not. All of the acceptable, pretty, perfect facades fall away, and all we are left with is the nakedness of who we truly are.
And we already know how uncomfortable we are with nudity, don't we?
But our discomfort doesn't mean it can't, shouldn't, or won't change. It also doesn't mean that change would be a "bad" thing.
I really wonder if everyone in the world knew they were dealing with cancer, if the world might be a different place. I suspect many would likely equate "real" with "ugly," but there is more beauty in the ugly and dark than most will ever recognize or know because they are so desperate to avoid it at all costs. Some are terrified to tread in those places, for fear they may die.
As for me? I truly feel my willingness (even if it is at times reluctant willingness) to go to those horrid places is what has kept me alive until now. I think if others had a taste of the freedom that my situation has created, it would be very hard, if not impossible, to go back. They wouldn't want to.
There is something quite amazing in being able to look life squarely in the eye, and see it for ALL that it is. Just because you see the darker, uglier stuff doesn't mean you have to take up residence there. So often people can't handle me when I am in a bad place. They are desperate to get me out of the bad place. They would be better off climbing into the bad place with me for a little bit, and then coming out of it with me. I tend to say where things are, and then move on when someone doesn't try to tell me to deny what I feel.
The minute I feel they are trying to have me deny how I feel, it is a very different story. I then sometimes feel like I want them to understand something they apparently do not. It gets really frustrating and emotional. Nothing worse than feeling like you aren't heard.
As I wrote this, I realize that this is a situation that is very different than what I relayed above. What about the other person's yellow sky? Can't I just let them have their version of my reality?
In thinking about this seeming paradox, I think what I come up with is that there is a difference between someone denying my reality, and someone who wants me to deny my reality. The times that people try to have me deny my reality are much more difficult than when their desired version of my reality stays with them. So when I get upset, it isn't over the version of the "facts," it is more about the fact that the other person wants me to deny my "facts," ultimately denying myself.
It is something I just will not do any more. And the times that it does kinda sneak in any way are just so incredibly uncomfortable, they can't last very long.
Is this what it is? I do not really know, but it is what I have come to, for now. Just like before, all thoughts, feelings, beliefs are subject to change.
As I have always done, I am doing the best I can do. The difference now, though? I am a lot less likely to battle the Should Version of Me in the process.
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