This will probably be a long and wandering post, sparked by a conversation I was having with Kali on Facey-Space.
I still struggle, even at age forty-five-omg, with how I define myself and what my Job is on This Here Planet. I suspect that I’m not the only one, and plenty of us wrestle with self-definition and exploration until the day we die. Talking about these struggles can feel self-absorbed, but as I said to Kali, working to improve ourselves is a gift to the world, and anytime we strive to enhance communication, we are doing a huge service to the world. Even the smallest effort – and I make no mistake in assuming that I am anything less than minuscule in the Universe – can have a great effect.
There’s something I have a great big honkin’ hard time remembering: I am only responsible for what I say and do. If I do my best to communicate my thoughts and feelings, and despite that, I am misunderstood, I can definitely go back and analyze where I might have gone wrong, how I might have miscommunicated. But between friends and loves, there should be a standing rule: the rule of Good Faith.
Good Faith means this – we should both be working under the agreement that what we say and do is not ruled by a desire to hurt the other. If I hurt you with my words, I promise that I was not striving to do so. I would hope that if you are my friend, you are working under the same parameters. And if you feel that I am not meeting that unspoken accord, then you should walk away from me. I would hope that you would tell me this first, but if you genuinely feel that I am working to purposely hurt you, why the hell would you stay around me? The same goes for you – if I decide that your words are chosen to inflict hurt, rather than to solve a problem between us, I will walk away.
There’s a reason for this. I have had enough of abusive people in my life who claim to care about me, but act otherwise. It is not an act of caring to say things designed to make me feel bad, just because you feel bad. There is a huge difference in talking out issues and people feeling hurt because of differences, and speaking in a way that purposely returns the hurt one feels.
And yes, I’ve been guilty of this. We all have. This is where that service to the world via one’s willingness to improve communication comes into play. Do you try to correct these patterns when made aware of them, or do you just shrug and blow it off? “This is just how I am.” Then I don’t need you in my life.
I don’t need anyone who would purposefully speak hurtfully to me.
I am not perfect. Hell, I had a heated discussion with someone I love last night… but we worked through our misunderstandings about what we were trying to say and what we wanted, because we care about each other and our relationship. We took the time to parse each others’ language and actions to improve our communication. It was a great gift to each other, even if it was painful at the time. The pain, however, was from dealing with a situation that made neither of us happy – not from speaking with venom directed at each other. This pain will heal cleanly. Pain caused by purposefully hurtful words would not.
So… I’m betting that you’re wondering what my pic has to do with this post.
Here it is: I have learned to love myself enough to kick people who treat me as emotional punching bags to the curb. Sometimes I still fail, because I don’t WANT to do it, you know – but eventually the truth will become inescapable and I will do the purge. I respect you enough to speak to you without insulting you or trying to push my pain or anger onto you; I respect myself enough to banish those who will not do the same for me.
Also, that photo made me giggle. So does this Julian Cope song, which is immediately what popped into my head when I saw it.