Human beings, we’re a sadistic bunch. We love to torture ourselves with all manner of things, most especially with the idea that we can control what people think of us – that somehow, if we explain it enough, folks will suddenly understand our side of the story, our point of view, our choices in life, etc., etc. But, and I know this will come as a complete shock, it almost never happens. No matter what we say or do, there are always two sides to every story, always multiple viewpoints, and so many life choice available, that we’re just setting ourselves up for failure if we think that everyone (or sometimes anyone) is going to agree with and/or support us 100% of the time.
I ran into this a lot when I first adopted minimalism. And then again when I changed my diet. Oh, and again when I became “homeless”. Come to think of it, I ran into it when I came out of the closet too. And when I decided not to have children, or a real job, or a house in the ‘burbs with a white picket fence. Hmm…seems I’ve spent most of my adult life being judged by someone. And that’s okay. These were my choices, and I’m pretty proud of them, and it doesn’t matter to me anymore what people think or who does or doesn’t support me, because, in the end, I’m the only person who has to live with them.
But…and I know you knew there was a but coming…
Being judged for my reaction to things I did not choose irritates me in a way that defies words.
I didn’t choose to be mentally and emotionally abused by my mother as both a child and an adult. And I certainly didn’t choose for my partner of 10 years to walk out of our relationship. But these things happened nonetheless. And no, my side is not the only side of this story, but I can guarantee you that the story my mother has been telling is so far from the truth that it’s not even funny. I know this because I ran into someone I thought was a friend last week and left our brief interaction feeling pretty much as if my mother had been standing there herself giving me a lecture.
The sad thing is, this friend was someone who once influenced me to make big changes in my life, someone who had dealt with my mother’s angry outbursts herself, someone I felt would not judge me for stepping away from the chaos. Boy was I wrong!
I get so tired of the name calling. It’s ridiculous for adults to call each other names. This isn’t junior high. I’m almost 50 years old and it was my mother’s incessant name calling, gaslighting, and gulit-tripping that were the straws that broke me. There are only so many times you can be told how selfish, ungrateful, unloved, and worthless you are before you start to believe it. When I stopped putting myself in proximity of her, the voices started to grow fainter and fainter until I could hear my own again, the one that said, “you are enough”. Until Saturday, that is, when standing there being told how selfish I was to abandon my mother when she was so sick, I heard her again and I felt so small I could have fit inside the coffee mug I was holding.
This woman, this so-called friend, she had no clue. And being human, my first instinct was to explain. I wanted to vomit my life’s story all over her so that she’d understand one tiny fraction of what it was like and how hard this decision was for me and why it was so important. I felt this overwhelming need to defend myself for even being at this community event we were both attending. I wanted to shout that just because I was out doing something fun didn’t mean that I hadn’t agonized over it all or that I didn’t care.
But I didn’t. I didn’t say much of anything actually, except, “good to see you, Sarah”.
I don’t need to explain to anyone what happened with my mother, or with Angie, and above all, I don’t need to feel guilty for the things I’m doing now. My mother is no longer a part of my life and Angie will always be my friend, but I don’t answer to either of them anymore, nor do I need to take into consideration how what I do with my life affects them. Admittedly, there are times when I do think about this a little more than I should (like when weighing out whether to post photos to social media or say something that might be read in this blog) but I’m learning to be okay with it all. If I offend someone, it’s certainly not on purpose. I’m simply trying to live the life I’ve been given. This is my story, after all. And as Adele so aptly says…
I had no time to choose
What I chose to do
So go easy on me
Please. I am human. I do have feelings. And if you think the last 6 months of my life haven’t been hard, I don’t know what to tell you. It has been the most trying, exasperating, hand-wringing, heart-wrenching experience of my life but I keep moving forward, because for all the turmoil, this has also been the most humbling, life-changing, growth-filled, and rewarding experience of my life as well.