Emotions exist to make us biased. This discovery was a complete 180 from my old understanding of emotions. I used to think my emotions were reliable indicators of the state of my life — of whether I’m on the right track or not. Your passing emotional states can’t be trusted for measuring your self-worth or your position in life, but they are great at teaching you what it is you can’t let go of. The trouble is that emotions make us both more biased and more forceful at the same time. Another survival mechanism with nasty side-effects. -David Cain, Raptitude
“…great at teaching you what it is you can’t let go of…”
I’ve spent a lot of time working on feeling accepted and worthy of love. Part of the challenge has been the fear that as I start to share…to expose…the real me — the me that has scars…is ugly…the me I keep hidden away — people may decide they don’t like me and the cycle of unacceptence and unworthiness will start all over again.
So rather than focusing on outward acceptance and worthiness, it hit me that I have to work on self acceptance and self worth. Who cares if someone…if you…don’t like what you read or see or hear? Why should I get caught up in presenting a picture that society accepts, if it’s not the full picture of who I am?
I didn’t understand how much I was struggling with this until this week when I had an unpleasant exchange with some family members. It’s probably not fair to go into too much detail but suffice it to say I was bothered by some behavior I witnessed. My family has always had it’s fair share of petty drama…meaning, it’s never been anything major, just silly arguments. I think that might be par for the course when there are a lot of girls — and I use the word “girls” purposefully because I’d bet $100 that most if not all of the arguments stem from some trauma experienced as young girls.
Growing up, my family always got together for holidays…all the aunts, cousins…and eventually the extended families through marriages started to join. For the most part it was always fun…until someone’s feelings would get hurt and a little dust up would happen. It was never anything major. Usually resulted in someone going off and sulking for a bit in another room while the rest of us continued to play games or watch TV.
Thing is, whether we acknowledged it or not, we all saw it…heard it…felt it. And the event of the day would usually result in more discussion following, which we (as kids) of course heard about. Rarely would anyone take the time to sit down and hash anything out. It just lingered and carried over or was ignored like it never happened. This might be where I first learned to hide myself. To push whatever vulnerability away…to suppress whatever trigger…because if you reacted, no one would talk about it…and reacting and not having the reaction acknowledged feels horrible…at least for me.
For a while now, I’ve noticed family attendance diminishing at holidays. Sure, all the kids are grown and many have families of their own so it’s harder to get everyone together. But this was how we stayed bonded as a family, in my opinion, by seeing each other on a fairly regular basis.
This past holiday was the smallest yet and I was disappointed with the behavior of a few at the gathering. I probably should have said something when I was there but I didn’t…I wasn’t sure why I was frustrated. A day or so later — after having a couple of unrelated things build up — I unleashed and expressed my frustration to a couple of family members about their behavior. My intent wasn’t to push anyone away but to finally acknowledge behavior that I found unacceptable in hopes of getting the two to finally talk through their shit.
The response I got back may have been more of a disappointment. One party accused me of “slamming” them and proceeded to tell me there are absolutely no issues. Funny, not what I heard…but whatever. The other, never even bothered to respond to me at all (oh, and I can see that everyone read the message). So now, like all the petty arguments I witnessed growing up, I too am being ignored.
At the heart of my frustration was a lost little girl wanting her family to be together and to just enjoy each other’s company. To realize that we are all individuals…different…yet worthy of acceptance and love…exactly as we are. To stop talking behind each other’s back and take the time to work through shit.
I’m no better than anyone else. People frustrate me and I’ve done my fair share of voicing my frustrations. But I’ve also never had an issue confronting someone from a place of wanting to fix whatever is broken.
I’ve purposefully changed my life so I could spend time with the people that mean something to me. So I could be more available and accessible. So I could experience moments of joy, gratitude, and love. So I could put out into the world what I want back from it. And that’s what I’m doing.
I’m sorry if me sharing my disappointment in your behavior means that you have to shut me out because you don’t like what I said. I’m sorry if you feel like I’m out of line for saying enough is enough. I’m sorry if loving you means I’m going to tell you what I don’t like and wish you would stop doing rather than just looking the other way.
But this is the new me. By being true to the values that are important to me, I will continue to grow to love myself and accept all the great things AND all the flaws….so that when you don’t, it doesn’t hurt as bad. By being true to myself, I can rescue that lost little girl and let her know that she’s going to be ok. I can create safe boundaries for her and protect her. And frankly, she is my primary responsibility. By telling you something isn’t ok, you know what’s important to me and why. I’m not saying that you aren’t accepted or loved. I’m simply saying that the behavior you displayed isn’t acceptable to me. There is a big difference I hope you can appreciate. If not, I’ll sit in silence and patiently continue to work on letting go…and of taking care of that lost little girl. I hope you are doing the same.