|Learning to be strong
||[Jan. 5th, 2004|12:54 pm]
Of all the lessons I've learned in the last couple weeks, one of the ones that is having the most impact is from someone who will probably never speak to me again. A friend who got caught in the crossfire and who I hurt and hurt badly. The wrong that was inflicted was petty, needless, and thoughtless on my part. It was done inadvertently in a moment of stupidity that I regretted as soon as I realized the bumbling error of my paranoid assumption. I felt terrible about it, and continue to feel terrible about it, and made an attempt at apology. It was rejected out of hand.
This person is so strong that they* looked at what had happened, looked at the effect I was having on their life, and decided that they didn't want me in it. There was no hedging the bet, no concern over what I might think of the decision, no compulsion to explain or have the last word or persuade. It was just done.
This person is now a hero to me. To have that sort of self-confidence and strength of belief is almost staggering - my whole life has been spent convinced that if I didn't make everything work, fix everything, dive back in there and duke it out, pull all the threads together, that everything would be lost. That childhood terror of displacement, abandonment, people actually telling me that if things didn't hold together we would all be sent away to foster homes. I have never been able to tolerate worrying that I was misunderstood or that someone might think ill of me. And in the midst of all that upheaval, the perfect example appeared, a strength of character and will that I am pleased and happy to emulate.
I probably won't ever get to say "thank you," and I will always regret my stupidity in destroying the friendship, but I will ever be grateful for the lesson learned. It is a lesson in respecting oneself, in establishing clear boundaries that do not wax and wane to fit the crowd. It is the lesson of being strong in oneself so that others do not have to guess where you are and what you're thinking. Because a nature so accomodating that one becomes Jello only leads to more anxiety, more upheaval.
I can't please everyone. I can do a better job of it, though, by just being who I am and knowing my limitations. It doesn't mean being selfish, it just means being centered.
*Yes, I know I rail against the "singular they." I'm making an exception to protect all aspects of the person's identity - even their sex. This isn't about the person, it's about me and the lesson I am learning.