Thursday, June 21, 2018

Therapy Couches and Rose Colored Glasses (If it's broke, don't try to fix it)

I was told recently by a somewhat new acquaintance that I’m too old to have young children. In disbelief, I asked for clarification and said, “Are you seriously calling me old?” Now mind you, he was several drinks in and perhaps in a slightly altered state, but nonetheless aggressively confirmed that was indeed, the intended meaning for which he would make no apologies. I was stunned for a moment, as I had spent a fair amount of time earlier in the evening engaged in what I deemed to be friendly conversation wherein we were getting to know each other a bit better and thus, felt a bit blindsided by what I took to be a blatant insult. Another friend who had been listening in saw my frustration and hurt and tried to reassure me that this “gentleman” would most certainly regret the statement in the morning and quite possibly in an hour or so. Perhaps he would. Perhaps he already did. But most conceivably, there would be no regret to come. I’d like to say I immediately dismissed the flippant comment as ignorant, insignificant and maybe even a misunderstanding of the inebriated kind, but such was not the case. I am a woman after all, and a professed self-loather - the deadliest of combinations and so, I let the comment marinate for a solid day or two and allowed it to pierce my soul on a level much deeper than I care to admit. The truth is that I barely know this man and his words should have carried no weight, yet still I allowed the insecurity to creep in and the pain to gain a foothold, if only for a moment. And then I went for a walk and the truth of our humanity steered me back in the right direction. Maybe he’s a sad, lonely soul like so many of us. Maybe he’s a bitter, angry soul hell bent on making sure others feel his pain. Or maybe he is simply one of those people who have chosen not to invest in me on anything other than surface level. Yep, I’m gonna go with that. Because at the end of the day, most people will not choose you over themselves - over their own insecurities and hurts - but those who do are the ones who deserve your time, affinity, presence and energy. "There comes a time when you have to stop crossing oceans for people who wouldn't even jump puddles for you." ~Author unknown

I decided on that particular walk, with a clearer mind and in the absence of the insecurities and demons that grip me daily to make a promise to myself. I promised from that day forward to surround myself with people who uplift me, people who invest in me and genuinely care for me: not simply people who tolerate me. I promised to choose people who choose me. I believe the true meaning of life is, simply stated, to be in constant relationship - not solely with our inner selves - but with each other and whoever or whatever calls us to a higher power. For me it’s always been a Heavenly Father, thee Heavenly Father to be exact and I’d be doing He and myself a disservice if I did not acknowledge the current state of that relationship. Those who know me well and have read my musings as of late know that I’ve been on a journey, a soul-searching of sorts. I’ve affectionately named it a mid-life crisis, but that is neither here nor there. I believe it is, at its core, an authentic, honest, struggle with my demons and I have no delusions that I have chosen not to include my Heavenly Father in the crusade thus far. Sufficed to say, I am keenly aware that He has been along for the ride every step of the way and has chosen not to leave me - not for one fleeting moment, not for one second. I am His and He will not and has not quit on me. It is perhaps, the messiest, most exasperating, misunderstood relationship in my life (on my end anyway - to Him it makes perfect sense), but also the one I hold closest and dearest to my heart. Therefore, I am confident it will be brought to fruition in due time. I am grateful He has chosen not to forsake me and I am daily drawing closer to Him. So breathe my concerned friends and family. I am still here, in His loving arms and headed home, slowly albeit, but eager and optimistic. I digress. The meaning of life as I understand it...

I have learned considerable lessons on this journey and am confident there is much more to come, but what is permeating deep at the moment is how I interact with those around me and how I engage in relationships with those I care deeply for (and perhaps even those I don't). What I’m only just beginning to understand is that they aren’t actually meant to be perfect relationships and therein lies the virtue. I’ve formerly addressed them on therapy couches, believing myself to be a “fixer," wielding psychological duct tape and interpersonal super glue as if they were the holy grail! I’ve told myself lies such as, “If I can mend this bruised relationship, I’ll find peace and contentment and all will be right with the world once again - or at the very least, with my family and within my friendships.” I’ve approached them from the pulpit with a wild tenacity, believing myself to be righteous and finding no fault on my end. It’s always the other half of the equation who is to blame. The pain they have caused me takes precedence over any wrongs I may have done to them. And I've even viewed them through rose-colored glasses, deeming them fully functional in all facets, otherwise known as denial. Introspection aside, when all is said and done, it really does not matter, because it always seems when one struggle is resolved, another takes root. There will always be one more miscommunication, one more injustice, one more unintentional slight - or God forbid - an intentional one. At the end of the day, there will always be conflict and struggle, because I - and those I choose to engage with - will always be human and finite, flawed and imperfect, broken and bruised. And though it sounds hopeless, it isn’t at all if I can shift my perception a bit to the right - or more fittingly - heavenward. I tend to relish the struggles and to find beauty in the darkness, in the broken. It is, after all, through the cracks that the light shines in.

The truth is that I am not meant to have flawless, elementary relationships with the people I love and care for, although that would seem ideal in this present darkness. The sooner I learn to accept and even thrive within that reality, the more joy will find its rightful place in my soul (insert serenity prayer here). Make no mistake, I am in no way saying that I have chosen to opt out of my relationships and throw in the towel. They do indeed serve a purpose, as challenging as they may seem. I believe I am meant to use my relationships as a gauge of sorts, with the sole intention of bettering myself (and hopefully those around me) until I am one day fully transformed (or self-actualized, as some would say). The fractured, dysfunctional, cracked relationships I struggle with every day point me directly to the one perfect example of relationship, which is the one I share with my creator. I believe that is the only perfect, pure and authentic relationship I have the privilege of engaging in. And not because I am perfect; because He is perfect and all He desires is all I have to offer. These days it’s not much, but for Him, it’s more than enough. Oh that I could approach each of my relationships with the same love, grace, intimacy and enthusiasm he brings to ours! 

Back to the promise I made to myself, back to the clarity I am blessed to receive during my daily walk (with thee). I am confident I will still feel slighted at times, still struggle with my insecurities and still fail to effectively communicate my love for my friends and family on more than one occasion. I am confident I will mince my words and proper articulation will elude me on more than a thousand occasions. I am confident damage control will always claim a bullet on my resume. But I am also confident of this. I will never stop trying. I will never stop investing in those who invest in me. I will recognize the failures and shortcomings of others and myself as opportunities to grow and learn. I will choose people who choose me and try my best to not concern myself with those who do not. And I will not run from the deficiencies and discord in my relationships, but will do my best to delight in them. And if I pass you on one of my walks, not only will I NOT do my best to avoid eye contact with you as most people I encounter do, but I will cross to your side of the street to look you square in the face as I say, “Good morning” to you. 

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