The latest song to hit my headphones time and time and time again lately is one called Consideration by Reef. For me it resonates in so many ways. For a start, in my opinion, it is beautifully sung, is very different from most of Reef’s efforts – but most of all it is the lyrics that sit with me. The opening line “I don’t think that kindness, is a weakness” is one I actually break down and play over and over.
See, I was brought up on the basis that there are roles to be played in this world and that if you were born with certain genitalia – namely the male variety – that you had to be strong. You had to provide. You couldn’t show weakness. You couldn’t fail. You couldn’t “have a bad day”. You had to succeed at all costs. And my god – you cannot cry. You cannot show emotion. That’s girls stuff – and we boys – we don’t do that. Kindness can often be seen as a weakness. That is fact. Helping. Reaching out. Troubling yourself with someone else’s challenges – nah – can’t get involved there son – leave ’em to it. This sounds like some angst against my parents – it really is not. It is how that generation lived – and how they taught us to live – and I am grateful for everything they did and do for me.
However, I am not like the above. At least I don’t think I am. Furthermore I bloody hope I am not. I am pretty certain I am not. This also doesn’t mean that anyone who is like that is a bad person – fair play to them if it works for them. But I am not. I am overloaded with empathy. I cry when people close to me are hurting. I cry when I am proud of people close to me. I cry when I see an advert on TV for abused animals. I cry when I know kids are going to school hungry. I feel the need to fix all of it. I feel the need to be kind. I like to help others. I like to please others. I probably (certainly) prioritise other people’s happiness and needs over mine. Most of the time that brings me pleasure and happiness – I like to see other people happy. I don’t like seeing people struggle. But this is where the challenge with my fucked up head comes into play. Where the hell do you draw the line? How do you draw the line? When do you stop? How do you stop? When does this become unhealthy. I can tell you that it becomes unhealthy quite quickly – and once you hit that point – coming back from it is pretty damn hard.
Drawing on personal examples is anything from toe curlingly embarrassing through to actually quite amusing. It is only through work I am doing on myself and with the support of 2 particularly dear people to me that I can actually laugh at it. And it is good to laugh – once I have accepted it is behaviour that I do not want to repeat.
So here we go. Laugh with me at the stupidity of me here – and the situations. Trust me – it is okay to do so – you have my permission – and I am laughing with you. In a healthy way. Because I know I will not go back there again! So it is all good – it just helps me heal by admitting this and getting it out.
There was a girl – a long time ago – and mentally a life time ago thankfully. I thought I loved her. Like you do sometimes. I know now that I don’t. Thanks mainly to the 2 people mentioned earlier who made me realise things so differently. Anyway – I thought I was in love. I remember I was meeting her later after work at a place where all our friends would be. I was looking forward to it. I say friends. Most of them were assholes. Most of them took great delight in reminding me I wasn’t good enough for her. I mean, trust me, she wasn’t good enough for me – and I know that! I walked in to the bar. I was ushered over by some of these assholes. Grinning at me. They wanted to make sure I saw something. That’s nice I thought. Wonder what it is. And there it was. The girl I “loved” dancing topless, on a pool table passionately involved with a guy. I don’t need to spell it out but they weren’t just dancing. I just stood there staring. With all these assholes laughing at me. Patting me on the back. Cheering her on. Egging her on. So what did I do. I left. I walked home. Gutted. Embarrassed. Upset. Hours later she turned up and got into bed with me. No apology. No nothing. “Let’s not talk about tonight – I am here so you should be happy” And that is what I thought. She is right. I should be grateful. I was wrong to feel anything negative. I got up the next morning and carried on. I had 3 weeks of daily reminders from the assholes as to what had happened. I shit you not. Daily. So what did I do. I joined in. I bought them drinks. I let them do it. Because their happiness was more important than mine. As was hers. I was desperate to belong. Desperate to be validated and show I was worthy. But every minute I did that – I was making it worse. I was betraying myself. Buying drinks and hanging out with people that did that to me?! What a prick!!! Not to mention me paying for her to get home, picking up some of her bills and making sure she was okay. Oh – and during those 3 weeks – she was sleeping with the other guy. But it isn’t for me to rock the boat. I should be grateful. My happiness isn’t important. It is everyone else’s. I know we all have shitty stories about ex partners – this is not the point I am making. It is how far I will bend over to make sure people around me are okay – no matter what level of suffering I have to endure. Sorry Reef – my kindness was for sure a weakness there.
I scored myself a 9/10 on the dick head scale for that one – such an idiot. But I have learnt. And the 2 people I refer to are the ones I trust with my life – and they are the ones that helped me change.
Another example in a different context. I am having a major challenge at work. And I have for a while now. I am very downbeat about the work I have done. I feel like I haven’t achieved anything. Sometimes I see that as a good thing as it drives me forward – and relights my fire. Other times if I am honest – it makes it hard for me to get out of bed and face the day. I have a lot of people around me. They are good people. They work hard. They are much smarter than I am. My job is essentially talking out loud. I cannot do what they do. But there is a lack of accountability at times that puts me in a really hard position. I feel like I am hung out to dry and that it is okay to offer me up as a sacrifice. Now – from time to time – I am ok with that. I seem to have an ability to build sound professional relationships (amazing after what I wrote in the last paragraph right 🙂 ) – but I seem to be okay at it. So that means that a lot of the time I can make sure the relationship is not affected. I would also say that I have a voice. I think that people listen to me – though I do worry that I am a bit too much for most people so some of the time I back away from conversations or make sure I don’t speak as much as normal. The challenge I have is I am always protecting people. Trying to keep the pressure off them – so they can have a better day – and taking it on myself. I think I have been doing it for a while now. I think I know why. It all ties back in to what I wrote in my first blog about not being good enough. So I have to go a few steps further and over deliver – which leads to me taking responsibility for elements that do not sit with me or are not issues I have created. I think one of the terms that is used – is assumed guilt. Not only am I damaging myself here – but I am also damaging my colleagues – and the people I work for. Whatever the situation – I assume I am the problem and I take responsibility for it – which makes other people feel they don’t need to – it stunts growth – it prevents the business moving forward. And it is all down to wanting other people to be more okay than I am. One of the “constructive criticisms” that has been thrown at me repeatedly – is that I am too emotive – I am too emotional – and I see that – I understand where that is coming from – it certainly is not unfounded. But it leaves me with a quandary. What the hell am I?
Think about that for a minute and what I mean. My upbringing tells me I should be acting one way. Then I act out my life acting another way. If you think of an axis and my development as a human being I have gone from one end of the scale to the other – and I still cannot get it right because I have gone too far the other way. So how the hell am I supposed to be? Where the hell do I fit in. Because I have spent most of my life betraying my own needs and feelings and put the wrong people first. I have allowed myself to be taken advantage of. I have allowed myself to be moulded in ways that I don’t want to be. I have let people down because of this – but most importantly I have let myself down. I know I hurt people close to be because of this – they see it and I know it upsets them – and that upsets me as it is the last thing I want to do. It also means when they turn to me from time to time I don’t know how to react – I get scared of what they are going through and I panic about them. I cannot process how “bad” something is for them – I basically think it is a catastrophe and I full on panic.
So what has changed? Or what is changing more to the point. Having a core group of people in my life who are rock solid – who genuinely care is key. I have people I know I can turn to for anything – some have been around for years – others have come into my life in the last 4 years – but I know they are solid. Recognising those who aren’t is also key. Sadly a lot of people are out for themselves and their lack of thought and care for others doesn’t match mine. Again – that is okay – that does not make them bad people – but it means they will never be allowed to be close to me – not any more. Writing helps me. Letting it out is great. I am new to it – and writing some of this out makes me cry – but more of it makes me smile and laugh. I recognise I am on a journey – and I do not set a time limit. This could take a month – it could take a decade – but as far as I am concerned every day is a step forward. I also see that there will be bad days and that taking a momentary step back isn’t punishable by personal flogging – it is part of the journey. Talking helps. Talking to those trusted people helps – and god knows I do that – I talk their ears off. Reaching out is key.
I also see the positives more. Getting rid of some of the fog allows me to see them more. It has taken me a while to work out how to get rid of the fog – and I feel like I am starting to do that.
My message. If I have one. Hang in there. Learn from the bad times – but also learn from the good. Talk. Reach out to those that you trust. It really does help – I promise you. Also understand that there is no scale when it comes to challenges. I thought that for a while – that in the great scheme of things – a lot worse could have happened to me. And that is true. But it doesn’t mean that what I have been through isn’t real – or that has an affect on me. So do not sit there thinking I better keep it to myself because lots of people have had worse. If it has affected you – it is legitimate. Let it out. Share it. To whoever feels right. And keep going. Always keep going.
To those of you who help me and have helped me. Thank you. You know who you are. To those of you who caused me challenges. Thank you. Without tough lessons – I wouldn’t be the person I am becoming and I am proud of who I am starting to be.