My therapist described it as going up a mountain.
Right now, it feels more like falling on my ass.
and over again.
Unless you’re rock climbing, you don’t go straight up a mountain. You go around it. And it can feel like you’re just going round and round in an ever looping circle. You can pass by the same points and think “damn it, I’ve been here before!”.
Except, you haven’t.
You’ve been by this spot, this side, but now you’re farther up the mountain.
Such is the way of Personal Growth and Learning.
But back to falling on my ass.
I learned several years ago to stop worrying about whether or not my mom was going to be happy. I used to more than worry. I was constantly convinced that I knew what would make her happy and I was hopelessly invested in the outcome of all of her decisions. I was angry when she didn’t take my advice. I was resentful when I saw her making decisions I didn’t agree with. I judged the hell out of that poor woman until she started hiding things from me and all of our communications took place under a veil of secrets and mistrust. It went on like this until our relationship combusted and we went months without talking to one another.
Months. This is a woman I talk to almost every day, and I went months without having her in my life.
It’s been more than three years now since we’ve had a serious argument. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time we really fought. And a big, big part of that was me learning to let go of my insistence that I knew what was best for her – and not just on the outside, but on the inside.
(Amazingly enough, she’s done just fine without my help. Go figure.)
In those three years, I’ve heard myself arrogantly proclaim that “I’ve learned to trust people to know what is best for themselves.”
Hey! Look at me! I’ve got this figured out! Check that off the list of things to learn about life! Next!
Except… well… no. Apparently I’ve learned to trust my mother – but I routinely find myself falling flat on my face when it comes to applying that wisdom to other people. (Like, say, oh I don’t know, Jared. I mean, you know, just as an example.)
Personal Growth FAIL.
Next up – accepting the fact that some people are just not good for you. They don’t have to be miserable people. They don’t have to be bad. But if every interaction you have with them ends up making you feel like crap about yourself – well, it might be time to say “You know, there’s nothing wrong with who you are. You’re fine. But, please, go be fine over there.”
I cannot even tell you how many times I have learned and relearned this.
And yet… there are weak spots. I, like my mother, have a tendency to see humanity in damn near everyone. I might as well have “no one is all good or all bad” tattooed on my forehead. And that’s great. Except that I see flashes of good – glimpses of that humanity – and all of a sudden I’m throwing out every single past bad experience and letting someone who is inherently not good for me deep into the recesses of my heart.
And then the pattern repeats, I feel like shit about myself, and I’m hollering “why? WHY do I constantly let myself believe it will be different!??!”
I think somewhere in there is the definition for insanity.
Personal Growth FAIL NUMBER TWO.
And there are others.
There is the declaration that “I set these boundaries, I hope you respect them, but it is my responsibility to enforce them.” And my failure over and over and OVER AGAIN to not do exactly that at all.
There is my pig headed belief that if I just explain myself one. more. time, things will suddenly be more clear. And then it’s not more clear for more than a milisecond and I slap myself for HOLY SHIT, WOMAN, STOP IT ALREADY. But surely if I just find the right words in this great big English language… NO. STOP. Just stop.
And I don’t stop.
Because just one more… just this once. This is the last time, I swear. But just this once more.
And you have no idea what I’m talking about, I know.
The point is:
Wouldn’t it be GRAND if we only had to learn something once? If you learned a lesson in one relationship and BAM!, you could effortlessly apply that experience to the rest of your relationships… If life was a series of checklists – check! check! check! – and we just got to move the fuck on already…
Wouldn’t that be swell?
Life, it seems, is not a rock climb.
And so, I labor up along the mountain. I come by the same damn spot again.
Today, I remind myself that this spot is not, however it may seem, the same.
I am, in reality, further up the mountain.
And I pretty much expect at least half of you to go OH MY GOD, UNSUBSCRIBE right about NOW.