I'm choosing to write about some new realizations because I really need to process them. I must warn you, however, that my "realizations" are blindingly obvious. Most of you (ok...all of you...) will be shocked, if not dumbfounded, that I am just now coming to terms with these truths.
Well. All I can say is that at least I'm still learning.
A few days ago I had a rough day. That's putting it mildly, to be perfectly honest. Let's just say that it involved work and tears. Copious tears. Luckily, they didn't fall at work so there's always a silver lining. As I worked through all my feelings from that day, I finally understood and accepted that there are people in this world who will be mean to me for no reason I can see. I even began to realize that people I consider my friends might sometimes hurt me or at least put their own interests ahead of mine in such a way that they don't seem to care whether they are creating major problems for me.
I warned you that my realization was painfully obvious to most people who've already lived through Junior High. For me, however, this is big news. Of course I knew that there were evil people in the world. Heck, I've even blogged about it and my philosophy that we shouldn't shield children from the fact that such people exist. Here's the deal, though. I was accepting the idea of "evil" people (or people who do really, really bad things) but I wasn't accepting the fact that every single day I'm going to run into some mean or selfish or completely uncaring people. And, sometimes, those people are going to have control over aspects of my life.
And...here's the kicker for my psyche...it's not because of something I did wrong and I can't change them. There's no way for me to be good enough or perfect enough or hard-working enough to fix it. They might change, or they might not. But I've got no control over how they decide to act.
This truly stunning new piece of information (I'm not being facetious or sarcastic, in case you're wondering) caused me to decide that I was going to be much MORE self-protective and much LESS vulnerable. (Yup. To one reader in particular, I'm fully aware that most women make this choice sometime between 15 and 23 years of age but I think we all know I'm a late bloomer.) In other words, I was going to toughen up. I've taken that idea under consideration before but it's never really felt like the right decision until now.
So, I've been processing this rather huge new piece of information for the last few days and I noticed tonight that I'm (perhaps) reacting with much more internal anger to things I'm hearing than I've ever had before. That's totally new. And not entirely convenient. But my theory is that I'm just working through a new concept and when I hear things from people, I'm immediately taking an overly-defensive stance. It's almost as if I'm overcompensating and I don't have my "anger rhythm" in sync with where I need to be.
Unfortunately - there have been a few times when someone who really does care about me and really does take into account my best interests says something to me which is not a big deal, but my heart starts racing and I get very defensive. I mean - REALLY defensive. Luckily, my brain still works and I tell that person that I know my feelings make absolutely no sense. It's almost like I'm looking at myself through a two-way mirror. I'm watching my reactions, thinking: "What in heaven's name is going on with me? Why can't I calm down about this? Why can't I just breathe and shrug it off?"
I'm open to suggestions from my personal peanut gallery, but my working theory at this point is that I just need to give myself a little bit of time to learn how to be a more self-protective grown-up and, in the meantime, try not to have any significantly serious overreactions.
May I just say, however, that as weird and strange as this new concept is - it's surprisingly liberating to accept the fact that the person I really need to depend upon is myself. I've let go (or started to let go) of the idea that my friends, or family, or co-workers will always protect me and defend me. They might, or they might not. But it won't really matter if I protect and defend myself.