I sometimes trick myself into believing I’ve got myself figured out. I know all my tricks and I no longer hand them any treats. The beauty of life is I probably will never figure it all out. I still surprise myself on the daily.
There are days when the surprises are unicorns and butterflies and I am astonished with how wonderful I really am. I am grateful to all the people who influenced and taught me.
Then there are the other surprises, the steaming piles of poop in paper bags on the doorstep. The surprises that have probably been left there before but go ignored or get thrown out. Eventually it is time to open the bags and deal with what is inside. Those surprises leave me cursing my parents and neighbors and childhood friend who hurt me one time though I don’t remember how.
Lately, I’ve been dealing with a repeat offender. There’s nothing like a relationship. It calls out all the hoodlums, just begging them to leave their nasty presents. The current bag is labeled “self-righteousness”. It’s a real stinker and it came knocking again last night.
I went out and enjoyed a nice night with my partner and her family. A few small things happened, culminating in what felt like a question being brushed aside. Nothing major. I could have just said, “I felt hurt” or just realized nothing was meant and let it go. I could have taken a million approaches right there in that moment. That is not what I did.
Instead, I went silent. I disconnected. When that didn’t get the reaction I wanted, I apologized, for what I’m not sure, but it seemed like it would be useful. It wasn’t. I then tried messages of love. Although sincere, it still didn’t serve to connect us.
Here’s the part where I air out my bullshit. Every time I feel wronged, I build a wall. I refuse to give the other person instructions on how to get to the other side and I silently demand that they figure out how to get past it. I will stand on the other side of the wall, arms crossed, toes tapping, waiting. I will wait for a long time, peeking over the top from time to time to see if the other person has started to climb.
Most of the time, the person hasn’t noticed the wall, so I gladly call their attention to it. Once aware, they often are just walking around picking daisies, or standing on the other side with their arms double-crossed. So, I build a taller wall, this time with barbed wire.
When the person calls out what an utter asshole I am for ruining the view, I, of course, suggest that, perhaps, they were the one who built this wall. If that doesn’t work, I might imply that they handed me the bricks, I merely laid them in their rows. I’m great at being a martyr without a cause.
Writing it all down it sounds utterly ridiculous. You might read this and wonder how I have any friends. Easy. I avoid confrontation, or just let things go. I haven’t found this as easy with my partner. I can hold on to that self-righteousness at the expense of quality time for no reason. Although, tested many times, this has never worked.
There’s this quote that is that asks, “Do you want to be right or happy?” It seems unfair, can we not just have both. Being right will make me happy, won’t it? In the long run, no. Being right is about the ego. Happiness is about connection. Whenever we operate from the place of the ego, any happiness we incur is only temporary, the ego will always demand more. Maybe the correct question is, “Do I want to be right or content?”
When we approach life from a place of contentedness, that deep feeling that everything is all right, even when on the surface things are chaotic, we feel peace. It is from that same place that we truly connect with others. Everything else is just surface attempts and selfishness to get our way, even when we are in the midst of apologizing.
Feeling hurt happens. It is the price of interacting with humans. I have done a lot of running from anything that could hurt. For this reason, I have poor coping skills when it does happen. The discomfort of it, and my inability to voice my feelings, becomes unbearable. So I build my walls.
I am ready to put away the bricks and mortar. I am ready to reach for connection; no matter how messy or painful it feels in the moment. Nothing could be more painful than the shame of having to tear down a wall and face the person on the other side. I know it will not be easy. Growth usually isn’t. I may encounter that bag of poop again. I am ready for it.