I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard or been told ‘Don’t take it personally’. It always and still does rub me the wrong way. Right away, I feel my ire rising. Right away I start taking it personally. How could I not? It feels like I’m being criticized, reprimanded and being told I’m not ok. I’m the only one taking things personally. Everyone else is perfect. That’s what it feels like when I’m being told. The truth is everyone is very susceptible in taking things personally. How do I know?
Some people might think they are being subtle when they are totally not. You can tell how quickly they take things personally by how fast and when they ‘unfriend’ you. I have been ‘un’ a few times. I heard the click loudly through cyberspace. I felt a stab of bewilderment and hurt with that click. How could I not? I am human. There’s emotions and blood coursing through me. Most of these bewilderment and hurt are minor. They go the way of ‘whatever’. Life and I go on.
Then there’s the other kind, the in my face and not so subtle. Yes, I’m talking about my evil neighbour again. Maybe she is not so evil. She’s finally taught me that there are people who just don’t like me and that they can be mean about it. My mother once told me she could not understand why I have problems with tenants when they have their separate suite and I have mine. It is probably harder for her and other people to understand why I would have problems with neighbours. After all, we live in separate houses with defined boundaries.
I have trouble understanding that myself. Perhaps there is no understanding to be had. I’ve come to understand for now what is meant about not taking it personally. It really is about them, her, my neighbour, whoever it is of the moment. They don’t care for me, my energy, my skin colour, my odour, whatever it is. It really is about their choices, preferences, whatever. I’m ok with all that. As long as they respect me and don’t interfere, cross over my boundaries. As long as they are not deliberately lying, being mean and trying to provoke me for no reason. Then I do take it personally.
I’m on the verge of ranting again. Let me stop now. Let me not take things so personally. There is honour and courage in standing my ground, not responding in kind and still give them due respect. It is turning the other cheek and let their blows glance off. I can do that.
October 1, another new day, another new month. I’ve been remiss in showing up here in this, my writing space. Hopefully I can show up daily for the month of October to mutter, sigh and bitch about the weather and whatnot. This month I’m writing for the Ultimate Blog Challenge. My rules are always the same for this challenge and space. They are:
- To show up every day.
- Truthful and respectful.
- Hopeful and helpful.
I’ve had a difficult and challenging September dealing with one of my neighbours. I’ve always had a difficult time all the years she’s lived next to me. But I realized this time that she has given me much insight into myself and human relations. She has taught me many valuable lessons about life and what is important and what is not. It is strange but I am grateful to her for all the miseries coming from her direction. Every cloud does have a silver lining.
For October, I hope to capture the silver linings of those clouds. The sky is cloudy today but my world is lit by the gold and oranges of the autumn leaves. There is much wrong and meanness in the world. There is also much right and kindness in the world. The ying and the yang. I like to concentrate and share the love and kindness and what is right out there. It’s a worthy goal.
“I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.”
– from LIFE ITSELF, Roger Ebert
It is a rainy Saturday morning. My clouds have lifted a little. I am out of bed, dressed and sitting here sipping tea and tapping out my words. I am grateful that they come one by one, spelling out my story, easing my pain and lighting my way. What a gift I have been given! At least I can express myself, warning others that a woman has fallen…momentarily. But she will get up again.
What I have learned lately is that I am not a kind or generous person. My kindness and generosity only extends to others. And that is a false thing. It has surprised me to hear patients telling me that I am so kind and so gentle to them. Can’t they tell I am just boiling inside? It surprises me they take my sourness for humour.
Yesterday, I was confronted by a neighbour in conversation, even though I tried hard to avoid her. I felt my unkindness then. I felt my heart constricting in meanness, no generosity coming forth. I kept my eyes downcast, answering politely. It was very difficult but I did not want to listen to her woes. I did not want to see her tears. I did not want to be her keeper – when it suited her.
That was yesterday. Today I realize that I was being kind and generous to myself. I am a nurse, a caretaker. But I don’t have to take care of everyone. I can’t. I don’t have the power. I feel my meanness coming out when I neglect myself. And without kindness, there cannot be generosity.
To myself I have to be true. I am doing the best I can. Perhaps I can do better tomorrow.