Saturday, February 7, 2009

This is Good Enough for Me.

I just realized something.

Something important enough that I could not blog about it right away.

Well, I could have, but then someone I know would have to take back a compliment, because I was pretty mad about this a little earlier.

Someone once said, "Lorin, I have read so much of your stuff... I spent hours reading what you have written online. And you know something? There's nothing bad!"

He meant that out of all I had written, he had never read anything mean-spirited. That is the compliment he would have to take back. (If not already!)

You see, I just realized that I let some people, who love me, get to me.

I let some people who meant well, and wanted good things for me, have a huge, and negative impact in an important area of my life.

Sure there is the "typical stuff"... I am a child of a mother and a father, so there is the normal stuff that parents say to their kids out of love. Things like...

"Well, art is not a practical major. You'd best come up with something different, or you will starve."

He had a point, although looking back, I think a degree (even in art) would be of benefit right about now. The two semesters of psychology from TCU under my belt didn't really materialize into anything that helped me in the long run, other than I can identify my friends' (and their romantic interests') personality disorders with a fair amount of speed and accuracy.

Then there was the other stuff, like "Oh, the boys DO like you! That's why they insult you incessantly!"

She meant well. Unfortunately, she was a little off base. They didn't like me much back then. I was a nerd when nerds were NOT cool. You can ask them. The guys I knew then will tell you now that I am on target here...

No, I am not talking about the typical BS that we are fed by well-meaning friends and relatives as we grow up, the stuff that everyone hears and eventually learns the truth about. (If they are lucky.)

Santa. The tooth fairy. The stork...

No, I was in a situation where I was unclear. There was in a time in my life about a year ago, when I had some doubts about someone I cared about. It was one of those "are things what they really look like?" kind of things.

He told me one thing. Everyone else told me something else. What he said made me feel better. What everyone else said made sense.

Turns out I believed what seemed logical. Unfortunately, it wasn't the truth.

People I love, and who care very, very much for me, were trying to watch out for me. And in their misguided attempts to help me, they pointed me in the direction of a wall to drive in to. (Figuratively speaking, of course.)

Anyone who knows me (or reads my blog) knows how I feel about things like... trust. Honesty. Faith. (And not just in the religious sense of the word.) Goodness. Truth. Integrity. Trust. (Did I already mention trust?)

I need to be able to trust those in my life. Actually, it's probably why I'm painfully selective about who I let into my life on more than a very superficial level. I don't always know who I can trust. And I'm not just talking strangers here...

Family. Friends. Dear friends. Relatives. Not trusting someone is not about the other person giving false information intentionally. It's asking myself, "can I go with what they are saying and know that it is the right thing for me? Do they have my best interests at heart?"

Here's the funny thing about that... In order to have my best interests at heart, they have to know what is in my best interest. In order to know what is in my best interest, they have to know my interests in the first place. What I have invested, and what I need to get back.

When we look at it that way, how many people can really have our best interests at heart? I mean... Really??

I can dissect this out to explain, if it's a little confusing thus far. (I know I tend to complicate things. I'm working on improving that, by the way!)

How many people know every detail of my life? How many people know my innermost wants, dreams, desires, hopes, wishes? How many people have not just an understanding, but a clear, in-depth and comprehensive understanding of my views and perspectives? Because all of those things play a part in what is best for me.

Of course, when we make decisions, we are over-doing it if we analyze it to that extent to make all of our decisions... That's why we rely on our "gut feel" so often. What "feels right"? All of the small parts which comprise who we are as individuals manifest in how we feel about a situation. NOW, I ask you...

How is it possible for another person to know, with that kind of detail, what is right for me? (Or you?!) The answer is... Pretty damned difficult.

Of course, kids are not capable of making certain decisions, although as they grow, we, as responsible parents enable them to be more of individuals and make their own decisions when there is not a lot at stake. (And, consequently, their own consequences.)

But, as adults, why do we rely so much on what other people think is the best direction for us?

I need to trust. It's important to me, and I need that in my relationships. All of them. It's not about whether or not people are being honest. I think most people are generally honest. It's about whether or not they know my best interests well enough to tell me things that are good for me. Healthy. Productive.

For instance, a person who is important to me appeared to be involved in a situation that was... Sticky. Not illegal or immoral, and I wouldn't say it was something that wronged me. He was just doing something that I didn't like. I wasn't sure of the details, so I was not sure of how to react to it. I didn't know what it all "meant".

Because he is important to me, and a part of my life, other people in my life decided to "help" me. They love both of us, but thought they knew the details without knowing the whole story.

I was told what I believed to be the details, both he and I passed those details on, and what I got from friends and family was...

"Yeah, right."

For some reason they thought there was more to the story, so they decided to let me know the details they (thought they) knew. You know, to "reassure me" lovingly.

The "loving reassurance" I got was completely off base. But, looking back, I can see that they did not only misunderstand the situation.

Adding new (and inaccurate) elements to the story (based on assumptions and over generalizations) would have been enough. (Which made it more dramatic, of course. Did I ever mention I have a dramatic family?) They did not have a clear understanding of what my personal goals are, generally and specifically, nor did they have comprehension of my views or perspectives. They didn't have an understanding of his either, or any of the other people who might have been involved.

In short, no one knew nothin.

(And yet, they all knew what I should do.)

The result was that how I wanted to feel about the situation was not how I ended up feeling about it. I was upset, confused, angry, and had lots of questions and doubt. As for trust? Well, let's just say that the whole situation took care of any that might have been left. In its place stood something less... trusting.

It has been almost exactly a year that all of this began. And yesterday I finally had the closure I needed. Now, that is not to say that I didn't resolve things. In fact, I decided to disregard what my friends and family had said, and I decided to feel the way I wanted to about it all. It didn't mean I had any concrete information. Just that I had decided to let go of anything that was getting in the way of having a healthy relationship with him. As I mentioned, he is an important part of my life, and a person that I will never not have in my life, so having a healthy relationship is more important to me than knowing all the details that I didn't really know.

Those who were trying to help me meant well. They love me, and they also love the other person involved. They really did want the best for everyone, and thought they were doing the right thing by "warning" me.

A similar situation happened to another person in my life, about me. He was warned that I was going to take a certain course of action. He, too, was "warned". I really don't know if he ever realized the negative impact in his own life, of those who genuinely cared for both of us but thought they knew something that they didn't know. But I can tell you that their "love" created strife in my life (as well as his), to an extreme that I didn't know (at that time) was possible. He had ideas in his mind of what he was told I was "going to do", based on his limited understanding of my situation, and their even more limited understanding. I thought I was clear, and I think I was. But when well-meaning friends and family give their input, it causes problems.

There was one man, and one woman, who were particularly "caring" to this person. Gave loving advice on what they just "knew" would happen. You know, because they lumped me in with every horror story they had read on the internet. (Not to mention urban legends that circulated around their offices. Because neither had first hand experience of this type of situation.) I'll add that both of these people are either now, or were then, very religious and very active in their congregations. (The point being, they weren't bad people.) But the "love" they tried to bestow upon this previous man, ended up ruining lives.

Ruining lives.

One time I saw the man, and he could barely look me in the face. I still am not sure of whether the reason was his own feelings of guilt for destroying me, or shame because he got the idea that maybe he was wrong. Maybe he just didn't like looking at the image of a woman who had lost probably 30 pounds, not realizing that he was largely responsible for my stress-induced frailty.

The woman approached me quite differently. Although she stayed true to her pattern. Bitterness came my way for a long time, and I just did the duck and dodge. When she had a new person to "warn" him about, she didn't need to be bitter to me anymore.

I probably don't need to mention that although they both feel like all that they said and did in the situation is now water under the bridge, I am reminded every day of the ramifications of their "love". I don't say anything though. I let them think that time has healed my wounds. And, in truth, time has healed many of them. Hopefully the person they were "loving" in warning about me, never felt the negative impact. It's bad enough that I did. Although, I do suspect that he asks himself, from time to time, who he should have trusted those years ago. Them, or himself. He knew me, until they convinced him that he didn't know me at all. Had he trusted himself, things would be different today.

And, had I trusted myself approximately a year ago, when I was sure that I should trust how I felt, and what I thought, I could have saved myself some heartache. Not to mention, I wouldn't have been such a pain in the ass to a person that means a lot to me. (Then again, I think he's a little used to it by now!)

I can say that I am glad I didn't follow their "guidance" for long, and soon took it upon myself to follow what I thought and felt. Sometimes it's not popular to go against the grain. Especially when "everyone" is telling us that we are nuts to think or feel a certain way. But, in reality, whose business is my life, if it's not my own?

I don't think I will be upset at my loved ones for long. As I mentioned more than a few times, they really just want what THEY think is best for me. It's not their fault that they really do believe that they have my best interests at heart. After all, who are we if we do not show concern for those we love? Especially when we believe they are in a serious situation or making a drastic mistake? We would be remiss if we did not say anything. Although, at what point do we draw the line? Who is responsible for what?

If we should show our love for our loved ones, by expressing concern in what appears to be a critical situation, is doing that a bad thing? I have gone on and on here about two tragedies in which well-meaning loved ones "cared" so much that they caused (in some cases) irreparable harm. (And, without question, unnecessary emotional turmoil.) So, what do we do?

Who is responsible for what?

If we should show love for others by expressing concern, and yes, we should, then we should also be cognizant of the limit. We should, and can, be aware of the fact that the people helping us do NOT know the whole story. And although every single person might have the same perspective, the reality is that no one knows what is best for YOU, except YOU.

What else does that mean? Because we can turn that around and see the resulting impact on another level... (Stay with me here...!)

If we can keep in mind that we are the only ones who really know what is best for ourselves, and keep others' comments/warnings/suggestions/advice in perspective... Then we can also deduce that when we are loving another person, we do not know, with absolute certainly, what is in their best interest. We do not know the full situation. And even when we think that we do, we really, really don't.

So each of us are responsible for loving others. And we are also responsible for drawing that line between having a belief that we know what is best in the situation, and thinking that we really do know. When we "love" another person by warning them of a fate worse than death, we are responsible for keeping a healthy perspective on things. Something like, "I really don't know the whole situation. I can say it seems like , but I really don't know. You are the only one who can decide what is best for you." But on the flip side, we are also responsible for drawing the line with loved ones. Loved ones, especially when they are being "loving" don't always understand when we say "I appreciate your concern, but you really don't know the situation, so I am going to disregard your warning." The reason is that if they think we are in a bad situation in the first place, we are more likely (in their eyes) to make bad judgment calls.

(More on that another time!)

I guess the bottom line here is that I finally realized that so much heartache that I have felt in my own life has been the result of others' tendencies to preach to me. Other, well meaning loved ones, who see a situation and decide to be the one to blow the whistle.

But who am I really mad at?

By now, you probably know... it's me.

I'm mad at me for enabling others to decide the course of my life.

I'm mad at me for permitting others to have a powerful influence over my emotions.

I'm mad at me for not drawing a line when others were so willing to cross it.

I'm mad at me for not being strong enough to realize that I am perfectly capable of determining what makes me happy, and where I want my life to go.

I am mad at me for...

Well, I'm just mad at me.

Good enough? I think so.

And if I think it's good enough, then it is.


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