Life | Relationships

Life – It’s Short

By on February 24, 2018
life is short

Life is short, fragile and is balanced on a knife-edge.

Life is short, it is fragile and fleeting.  Nothing brought this home to me more than the death of a friend last week.  She was not an old woman.  I had seen her 2 weeks prior to her death where a group of us enjoyed a slap up meal in the local Indian Restaurant and had a really good time, then suddenly she just…stopped.

We all say it constantly, ‘life is short’, but never seem to do anything about it.  Sometimes you really do need a kick up the proverbial to really ram home the truth of the matter: On average our lifespans may be on the rise but that is no guarantee that you personally are going to live to a ripe old age.  You need to live right now.

How often do we go through one of these awful situations and then go back into our ruts and the drudge of day to day life?  Stay stuck in a job that doesn’t value you, where you are treated badly?  Or in a relationship about which you could easily say the same?  We stay on our rails and follow the same old sequence of events because, why?  Maybe fear of change but also because it is easy.  You might be bored rigid but hey, it is easier to just stay in a job you can do with your eyes shut than it is to make the effort to find and learn a new role.  You might feel undervalued or even abused by a partner on multiple levels, but change is scary, and it is often so hard to get the help you need, you stay put, the years drift by and so it goes on.

How many of us try and try for a partner who shows us no appreciation or value?  How many of us knock ourselves out for a job where you know full well your employer would replace you within 24 hours if you dropped dead tomorrow?  Is it really worth it?  We all need money to live and we need to work to get the money – but we need to start working to live instead of the other way around and focus on our personal relationships with others – the ones that make us happy!

At the beginning of this year, I promised myself that 2018 would be the year when I would work less, travel more and spend really high-quality time with those closest to me and who I care about deeply.  I planned to remove as many negatives as I can…so far I have pretty much failed.  My friend passing really has given me a kick up the arse – and I am going to make changes.

People who know me ‘in real life’ will be aware that I never sugar-coat the dead; we are all just people, good and bad, and this doesn’t change when we pass, but this woman really was exceptional and when I say she was one of the nicest and most genuine people I have been fortunate enough to meet, I actually mean that.  We knew each other I guess for just over a decade, we were never exceptionally close but she is going to leave a huge gap in our little group, in my life and the world will be poorer without her in it.

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Life

First Impressions

By on January 5, 2018
first impressions

I am a big believer in first impressions and I have often acted on connections with individuals that felt positive on a first meeting. I’ve rarely misled myself on this. However, I am more reluctant to follow my gut when my first impression is one of dislike. Instead, I have to ask myself, is this feeling of instant dislike more to do with me that it is with them?

I rarely find myself in the situation where my first impression of someone causes me to actually recoil from them, but it did happen to me last year for the first time in many years. I decided to withhold final judgement because I honestly could not understand why they had been so brusque toward me or why they felt speaking to me like a disapproving ageing aunt was in order. Perhaps I imagined it? If I hadn’t (and I hadn’t, I just tend to second guess myself and give people the benefit of the doubt) perhaps it was a bad day. I examined my own behaviour. I had actually not directly interacted with this person, there was just a general group conversation happening and they had decided to be – well, weird.

So fast forward 6 months or so and just before Christmas I find myself in this person’s company again. Not by choice, I hasten to add, however, there were other people there I wanted to spend time with that I do like and so I approached it with an open mind and equally openly spirited, only to find that for some reason I remain persona non grata as far as they are concerned.

However, on this occasion I was sober and they were not and it soon became more than apparent as to why this is the case. I have rarely met anyone so insecure, mainly with themselves but of course, that then extends out towards others around them including any significant other they may have. There was a lot of trying too hard, wanting to be the centre of attention and fending off non-existent ‘threats’ to this.

I think the reason I felt such an instant dislike to this person from the first time we met is simply that I totally relate to all of those emotions and I have behaved in similar ways myself in the past – although (I hope) not to that extent because some of the expressions of control that were aimed at their partner based, I presume,  on their own fear of abandonment I found really difficult to watch.  I know that in the past I could so easily have become that person.

So now I don’t feel quite so angsty about them, mainly because I recognise that those feelings are there because they are mirroring a potential aspect of my own personality I don’t like very much.  I hope that they can develop a sense of their own self-worth and be happy with themselves and their loved one. It is hard – I should know – to learn to love yourself, to do that work and continue to do it because, frankly, you tend to backslide, or I do at least.

That said, I shall be trusting my first impression, I shan’t be totally avoiding them but I certainly will not be seeking them out!

 

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Life | Relationships

The Forgiveness Delusion

By on December 30, 2017

To Err is Human, to forgive Divine

 

I thought I was pretty good on forgiveness. Even my brother who was pretty savvy with people once said to me (regarding a decade-long argument with a family member), ‘I wish I could forgive it but I can’t, I haven’t got the grace to do it. I wish I had your grace, you manage to forgive people, even for the most awful things’. At the time I would have agreed – now I am not so sure.

I would say that I am mostly pretty good on forgiveness. If someone gives me an apology for something I usually take it and mean it. I also believe I can recognise flaws in my own interactions with others and will apologise readily and mean it.

But what if someone has done something so bad, so terrible, with such long-lasting effects that you simply cannot find it within you to forgive?

“To err is human, to forgive divine”, said Pope in his poem An Essay on Criticism. On one hand, I would agree – we all make mistakes and we could all use a little forgiveness. Sometimes our behaviour is understandable, there are real and valid reasons why someone acts in a certain way. It could be upbringing, it could be mental illness, a traumatic event, it could be a lack of social skills. Oftentimes the knowledge of these things does indeed allow us to forgive because we can understand the reasons why something happened.

On the other hand, a reason is not the same as an excuse. Repeating the same behaviour over and over again when one could have dealt with it the first, second or even third time, pretty much negates the reason as an excuse in my book. Systematic abuses of people over decades, being repeatedly left as a result of this and still not looking at oneself, still blaming someone else, anyone else, again removes any possibility of using any reason to excuse yourself.

ForgivenessSo I repeat:  Yes, there are reasons, but having a reason is not an excuse, it does not excuse it or exempt one from the responsibility for or the consequences of that action, and we still need to atone or make good for what we have done, if indeed that option is still open to us.

I’ve tried, I really have. I actually believed for a long time I had succeeded. I maintained polite relations with this person. I accepted a half-hearted apology. ‘I must have really hurt you and if I did I am sorry’, all the time looking confused about what one could possibly have done that was so bad, despite having been told probably hundreds of times over a decade.  This is a half-arsed apology in my book and merely becomes self-seeking and irrelevant when used to precede an attempt at reconciliation. But that said, I thought I’d accepted the apology and moved on. I was wrong. I’m still angry and the fact that they thought I was so stupid that I was going to give them another go at destroying me just makes it worse.

Some things I can remember as clear as day (mostly things I don’t really want to) and others I cannot recall at all. This is distressing because my children will remind me of things and I genuinely have no clue what they are talking about. It isn’t that they can expand and I go ‘oh yeah, I remember now’. It simply isn’t there in a place I can get to it.

I know I could go and see someone, get these memories back but if I have repressed good memories I have obviously repressed them alongside something not so good. What if the stuff I can’t remember is actually worse than the stuff I can? Do I want to deal with those and the inevitable fall-out that would occur?

What makes it worse is watching them come out of every situation smelling of roses, twisting the truth so they are the perpetual victim. So I cut the ties as far as I can and I try to remove them, expunge them from my psyche.

I’m not even sure why this is all coming up at a point where I have been away from the situation almost as long as I was in it. I want to cry as I write this but tears just will not come.

And so, forgiveness is just not in me for this particular person.

I hope it comes soon, I’ve had enough of them.

 

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