Who I am? To pretend that I might be superior over someone else, or that others should be more like me? You’re right, I am no one in that respect. But it is interesting to question who one’s self is when you peel the layers of expectations away from them, even those of moral superiority. Can we ever truly do such a thing?
This post is prompted by an examination of a loss that is recent to me. Its the loss of a close and intimate friendship I had, and what that friendship taught me and gave me. Or, I should say, its the perception of a friendship I had, and the selfish desire to understand how that loss impacts me now.
Yes, I say selfish, and I try not to shy from that concept because often we are motivated by survival and a desire to feel good about ourselves. Psychologically speaking, kindness is even equated to these motives, though that doesn’t mean to negate the value of the actions themselves. Selfishness is thought to be wrong, and in our culture today belongs to a world of good and bad, black and white. But we all know deep down that there is truly no absolutes in this life (a fact I was confronted with at a young age when I realized that some people actually don’t like chocolate..who knew? Haha)
But we learn and grow and thrive from our own selfishness and the selfishness of others. Its the awkwardness of being complimented for something we’ve done, or thanking another person for speaking their mind. Its the extreme ability for us to learn and gain something about ourselves when someone has taken selfish actions to hurt us.
However, selfishness is not an excuse for any action.
Yes, there comes a time in one’s life when you begin to understand why other people cause pain. Its an unfortunate side effect of opening up to others, nurturing deep connections, and being accessible to happiness and pain. Its part of choosing to be vulnerable. That understanding is empathy, and self reflection. They are also part of what has allowed us to forgive ourselves for indiscretions in the past, or allow us to forgive ourselves presently for not realizing sooner what was to come.
We stumble through this life, guessing and hurting, and healing and trying. If we’re lucky, we are able to find a peace of mind that we share in the suffering of billions around us-that we are not alone. But we are lucky also, in that we get to define that suffering for ourselves. We can be selfish through lies and manipulations, because we are too scared to face what we have too, and because we are too afraid of losing something we never allowed ourselves to have in the first place. Or we can be selfish by being honest, and wanting to share moments and feelings and thoughts with others.
I choose the second option as much as possible (realizing that we often fall into the inbetween). This doesn’t make me better than anyone else, even if it makes me personally feel better about myself. But it does make it harder to respond to the first. They are: different cultures; different languages. At this point in time, I need to solidify my own being, my own question of “Who am I?” before I can fully accept or understand the first. I need to recognize its elements within myself, and how to protect myself from it outside of myself.
The month of September has been a continous stumbling for me. Stumbling into truths, stumbling into feelings, stumbling into realizations. I wish I could say that I’ve come to peace with the recent loss of a best friend, but there are moments when that doesn’t feel true. And yet, that is the cycle of grief, so perhaps I can say in some ways, that there is peace.
The truth that has really bruised me this month, as it does everytime I encounter it- is that when we seek out others to connect too, we must be aware of what we are looking for in the relationship ourselves. What do we need or desire from that relationship, and how does that change its shape? What indeed does it make us over look? With this awareness, comes a certain self confidence, and the faith to adhere to our intuition. Without it, we blindly move throughout, and can lose sight of who another person actually is or what they are motivated by.
That is much easier said than done, and no reason to blame a person who has fallen victim to emotional abuse for not realizing its snares before the worst is uncovered. We all make decisions, but sometimes, it would seem, one person has an unfair advantage over the other person. This is as their own need to surivive can be colored in such a way that would seem to compliment that with whom they are connecting with.
Its curious how individual each trauma we experience can seem. What I have seemed to learn over the years is that no matter what, we must trust ourselves. But, when it comes to others, we must balance trust and caution. If not, we fall into patterns of trusting the wrong persons, because we feel guilt for our distrust, though the distrust comes from valid experiences. The effects of this society that works so hard to manifest distrust of others while constantly speaking of bettering ourselves (both internally and externally) , creates a distrust in ourselves most of all.
Though I have been thinking about all this and more, at this time it that does mean a person is lost to me. And perhaps, they were always a different person anyway. But in the end, it is something that just is, and not something I can blame myself for. Life happens, and with it, we must continue to adapt..
This post has been relatively vague, so I’ll end it with a favorite quote of mine. Thank you for reading.
“…People are rivers, always ready to move from one state of being into another. It is not fair then, to treat people as if they are finished beings. Everyone is always becoming and unbecoming.” -Kathleen Winter
^^ Remember this quote for yourselves, dear ones. And share your compassion with yourselves first.