Today is my birthday. This last week I have been thinking back on my life, and how things are. I have a hard time believing that I am 36. It doesn't feel possible. When I was younger I always felt so mature for my age, but now as I age I feel my internal clock is moving in reverse. I feel like I am still in my twenties, and the 90's were just 10 years ago.
I was thinking about the things I like about my life, and the winding path that has taken me to where I am. I was also thinking about the things I am tired of, and done with. Things that I said I wanted to change a long time ago, but realized I never bothered with. I began to compile a mental list in my mind about these things. Things I felt I was too old for, or done with.
I'm too old to keep being the victim. I know this one seems to be a bit strange to say, but hear me out. We've all had bad things happen to us. A lot of the things that happen to us when young is not our fault. We have no say in what kind of family we're born into. We have no say over a lot of the most painful of life's circumstances. They happen to us no matter who we are. We're all going to experience the loss of a loved one at some point in our lives, for example. However, there are so many things we do have control over. These are the situations that I am talking about when I say that I am too old to keep playing the part of the victim. I think what often happens is that many of us that came from dysfunctional families where we were not accepted, or cared for tend to subconsciously seek that pattern in other relationships. This is not to say that we want to keep feeling bad, but we are used to it. It's comfortable. It's the role we know, so we play it. I know this has been the case for me. I don't like being rejected, or never having my needs considered by others, yet it keeps happening in so many of my relationships. Somehow, I keep seeking this role out, hating it all the way.
I'm done with it.
I need to actively seek to better my life, and not blame others for my own problems. If I don't have enough help, or enough affection, or enough anything I need to problem solve on how to resolve this. I can't keep just expecting others to meet my needs without me being active in putting the process in place.
With that being said.....
I'm too old to be giving myself away. This one goes with the victim role I was talking about above. I'm getting too old to keep getting into the role of people pleaser. I am getting too old to waste time on people that are only there to take advantage of me. I can't keep being taken by the same type of people, and expect my life to not feel drained.
I need to examine my role in how this happens, and take an active approach to make it stop. Without getting into a big long semi-off topic rant I think it's safe to say that a lot of it began in my childhood when dealing with a mother who needed me to take care of her instead of the way it's supposed to be. I got used to that role, and I sought it out everywhere else I went. I feel useful when I help others. I feel a boost of self-esteem, and pride. However, helping someone in need is not to be mistaken for friendship. When I put my personal feelings out there to be intertwined with my efforts to help others I tend to attract a lot of needy people that take advantage of people like me. That is where I end up feeling like I was used. I likely was used, but if I were entering the equation with a healthier mindset I would likely not have given away so much of my time, and energy before establishing a good foundation of friendship first if that was what I was looking for. This has happened so much to me recently that I really had to pull back from all people, and examine the patterns. The pattern is that I am a generous person that will give anyone anything I have if I feel they need it. I need to be sure these people are reciprocal in their taking, and not be afraid to set boundaries right away before the other person sees taking, taking, and more taking as the norm. Healthy people that want to have a healthy relationship with me will not mind boundaries right away. They will value my rights. Only those looking to take advantage will be offended, and well... it's good to know who those people are right away.
I'm too old to take everything so personally. This is one that also kind of fits into the victim category, but I felt like it needed it's own.
One of the benefits to being a quiet person that watches more than interacts is that one gets acquainted with behavior patterns of others fairly easily. After being on this earth for awhile I can tell you for sure almost everything people do, and say is more about them, and their reality than it is you. I see others getting worked up, and fighting on a daily basis because so, and so said this, or did that to them. My usual thought is "who cares?" I know it's rude to be thinking that as someone stands before me pouring out a litany of complaints about someone else, but I find that most of the time the issues they're worked up about are minor, and have little to do with them in the first place.
This is not to be confused with accepting hurtful behavior from others. Of course people can, and do things that is mean, and hurtful to us, and we have every right to feel hurt when this happens. Being insulted, left out of social gatherings, and treated as if we're not worth basic respect is bound to be hurtful. It's this way, because the pain is signaling to us that something in the situation is not working for us, and violating our values. However, the bad behavior of others has more to do with their life than it does ours. We don't have to take on board every slight that comes our way as if we own it. I just feel like I have so much else to do that I can't waste the emotional energy on getting upset about everything others do to me.
Of course, I also know that we all often times believe that others are behaving certain ways toward us intentionally when that's not the case at all. Sometimes that friend that didn't stop to chat is really late for something, and didn't have time, or our spouse that didn't put something away just forgot. If we let this kind of thoughts become our focal point then it leaves less room for other things that are positive.
I'm too old to waste my energy on things that don't or won't matter. This kind of goes with most of everything I have already talked about. The little things that seem such a big deal at the time I find aren't in retrospect, yet I spent up all my emotional tokens getting upset, or worrying over them. Things like a late bill, a bad doctor's appointment, or being late somewhere. Anymore I find myself doing an anxiety check when I notice my anxiety rising. I stop, and ask myself how important this issue was last time it (or something like it) up? How much did the outcome of the situation really affect my life?
I'm too old to let others define what does matter. Similarly, I am also too old to let others dictate what is a big deal to me. I don't care much about having a nice house, car, and clothes. I care more about having more time to spend than money. I tend to spend what little I have helping others who have less. That is more important to me than a lot of material stuff. I know most people say they are this way, too I often don't see it reflected in their behavior. That's not right, or wrong. It is just different than me. I like what I like, and don't what I don't.
Life is full of choices. I choose to stay home, and homeschool two of my children. This was a choice over going to work. There are consequences for this, and rewards. For me it was the right choice. My values are reflected in this lifestyle. What matters to me is that my kids are happy, and comfortable. This cannot happen the way the current school system is set up, especially for Beans. Too much emphasis is on ABA type of therapies, and not enough on support for the autistic person. His well being matters to me more than his level of "functioning" on a superficial level.
People are going to judge, and react, but they don't have to like my choices. I do. They don't have to like me, but I need to be comfortable with me. I have to define my own ideas of what matters, because living someone else's is never going to lead to a fulfilled life.
I'm too old to accept anything but what makes me happy.