This has been a hard year for so many people on so many levels. I feel incredibly lucky that I still have my job when so many others out there are struggling, especially because it’s more than a job or a paycheck to me. I’m very passionate about what I do and if I lost my job, I’d feel lost in life. I don’t want to feel lost again. I’ve felt lost so many times in my past when things that I would put so much of myself into fell apart or were taken away from me, and I’m too old, and too tired, to lose what feels like my life’s meaning again. I’m thankful, and I’m grateful.
But it’s still been a tough year on me for other reasons. I’ve lost friends. More accurately, I’ve let friends go, it’s been my choice. My circle got smaller again. In general I’m a very empathetic and sensitive person. Even when life is “normal” I often struggle because of this. I’m VERY in tune with how I’m spoken to and approached, and my trust issues are are large as the void of the grand canyon. If you’re not being completely straight with me, something inside of me SCREAMS at myself that I need to get away from you. I know and understand that not everyone who is evasive is doing it for malicious reasons. In life, a lot of the times we are caught in the middle of things, or just in an awkward position and we handle it as best as we can. Some people think that “handling” people rather than being straight with them is a kindness. The intensions may be coming from a good place. Still, I’ve had to back away from people that I’d gotten to know and care about as friends because something about how they spoke to me / interacted with me changed at some point, and it just felt wrong and icky. I’ve always believed in confronting people when I feel like something is going on behind my back (yes, I realize again that its not always malicious) but the big difference between how I approach things now and how I used to approach things is that I have finally learned to accept that I cannot force anyone to be honest, I cannot force anyone to take accountability, and I cannot force karma; it takes its own sweet time. Now, I confront people when I need to, but once I’ve said my peace, (and I always try to say it as respectfully and thoroughly as I can) I turn around and walk away. It’s up to them at that point to decide if, and how, to respond. I leave the ball in their court. If they don’t respond, that’s all I need to know and I will continue to keep my distance. If they aren’t able or willing to be honest with me, creating distance is what is best for my emotional health. If they respond but it’s STILL not honest and straight forward, I just accept that and I choose to keep my distance from then on in order to protect my emotional well being.
A few months back, I had to let go of a friend that I’ve known and been somewhat close to for a very long time, for over a decade. This person participated in something that I know wasn’t easy for them, but the end result that they took a part in was WRONG. I feel like they really didn’t grasp the seriousness of their participation and what a dangerous message it was they were sending to people with the choice that they made. I understand that it was a tense situation and probably very stressful and confusing, but I really wanted – needed – this person to understand the ramifications of their choice. I took a risk and I told them something VERY personal about myself and my past in order to try and bring out some enlightment in them, but they just continued to defend what they did, and their defense made the situation even worse in my eyes. I didn’t want to get angry or say anything that I’d regret, so at that point, I just said that its one thing to have a difference of opinion with someone, but its another to have a difference in morality. I didn’t feel like I could view this person the same as I could prior to that incident, so to try and hold on to the friendship wasn’t fair to them, or to myself. I let them know that if they were ever in a bad situation and really needed a friend, I’d be there, but that if they weren’t willing to try and understand the damage that they caused to the lives of others, or accept any accountability for what they participated in, I couldn’t continue to remain in their daily life.
I miss this person. I miss sending them stupid memes every day. I miss our several-hours-long serious conversations. I miss the person that I believed them to be before that incident occurred. Sometimes I think that this is silly and I consider picking up the phone and calling them, but then I remember that I can’t just forget or omit what happened. I remember that I don’t see them the same that I once did. I can’t go back. I can’t change that. But I still miss them.
I miss other people that I’ve had to walk away from, too. Its not that (most of them) were bad people, but they weren’t willing to respect me enough to be up front with me when I directly and respectfully asked them to, and I deserve that level of respect from anyone that I allow into my life. I still miss them, though. I miss the fun I had with them, and the serious talks, and just their friendships in general when we were in a good place.
This year has brought out so much in all of us; our best qualities, and also our shortcomings. We all have them, there’s no judgment. I’m not angry with the people that I’ve had to let go of. I just know that I have to protect my mental health, and in the past when I ignored my gut feeling of, “SOMETHING IS WRONG”, I’ve paid for it heavily. So now, I listen. I listen when something feels icky. I listen, I try to confront the situation and talk it out and fix it, but it takes two to fix something. If they aren’t willing, there’s nothing else that I can do.
I’m not alone. I do feel fortunate to have some wonderful people who care deeply about me, and me about them. Even the people that I’ve had to let go of have showed me kindness in the past and helped to heal some pieces of me that I had allowed others in the past to break. I’ll never be the person that I once was, and that’s okay. We all grow, evolve, and change. We can’t erase the past, but we can use it to work towards being the most authentic versions of ourselves that we can. I know people call me (affectionately) the crazy Chihuahua lady, but my animals bring me joy. I love their simplicity. People … are complicated. Animals are not. I wish we could be more like them.
It’s okay to let people go if you need to for your mental and emotional well being. It’s also okay to miss them.
Not only with my past, but also with the extra tension and stress that we are ALL under this year, I need to ask all of my friends to never try to “handle” me. Treat me like a person, like an equal. Be honest with me, and I will be honest with you. I’d rather you tell me something you think I won’t wan to hear, than sidestep around a concern. I can ALWAYS feel when the atmosphere between me and someone else changes, and no matter what the intentions, it always feels horrible to me. Please, don’t do it. It may be the kindest way to treat others, but not me. There is so much discord in the world right now that I really can’t handle icky feelings in my circle of friends as well.
I’m fragile right now, but I’m also strong. I’m extremely sensitive to every single word and action that I hear and witness around me, but I’m also throwing myself into the good fight with passion and drive. I’m trying to help save lives. I’m trying to make sure that the lives that I’m responsible for are filled with security and joy. I don’t have the strength to fix the big bad world out there, there are people more equipped than I am to fight the battle that we are facing on a larger scale. But I do have the strength to surround myself with only positivity and with people that my gut tells me I can trust. Imagine the world that we lived in if we all listened to our intuition, trusted ourselves, and treated others the way that we would want to be treated. Just … imagine it. I can’t change the world, but I can try to be the change that I’d want to see in the world. Be the change that you want to see in the world.(-Ghandi)
Be good to each other. Right now, we ALL need it. Also extremely important, be good to yourselves.
PS. I’m not perfect. I make mistakes. Sometimes I too have the best of intensions but something that I do or say ends up being hurtful to someone else. PLEASE tell me if I do this. I WILL listen. I WILL grow. I WILL do my best to continue to learn, if you’ll take a moment to teach me.