If you had asked me a year ago, I would have told you that the power of positive thought brought me the biggest blessings of my life. And while that remains an honest answer, I am truly happy to tell you today that I have abandoned my dedication to this mindset.
Talk about exhausting. Who needs that kind of pressure?
Yes. I visualized what I wanted. Yes. I focused on love and acceptance and tried to be a good member of the public. I controlled myself, I worked for it and I got what I wanted. I tried to fit in here, I tried to be a good tattoo ambassador. A good neighbour. I tried to be a lot of things, for myself and for other people and none of that was ME. I don’t fit in, and I don’t want to. And I would be a terrible neighbour, which is why I can’t see one from my front door. I require space. I need to honor that.
I tried to see the best in people. I started giving second, third chances. I dealt with my anger via letter writing. And don’t get me wrong, it was cathartic. It let me sleep soundly. But it wasn’t enough.
No doubt, there are people born happy. Whose natural instinct is to gravitate towards the bright side. And for those people, perhaps a dedication to “PMA” (Positive Mental Attitude) is not a burden.
But that’s not me. Never been me, isn’t me now and wasn’t me while I was using it. It was not a sustainable practice. Seven years was a good run, but I’ve used up my patience. With curtailing my tongue, buttoning up, blending in.
This winter, I got into an altercation with some very impolite individuals. After oh, about 7 years of putting up with harassment, of politely answering their ridiculous questions, and ignoring their insults. When I talk about bullying with my children, I have always felt it a bit disingenuous. Because the idea is, children bully. Horse shit. Adults do it, too. And while positive conflict resolution is of course ideal, it is not always the best option. You know, it was one of those mornings, I was running late, hadn’t had a coffee. I wasn’t at my best. They pushed. Like they always pushed. And finally, I pushed back. I asked them what about me (the “Horrible Tattooed Woman”) gave them the impression that I might turn the other cheek. Be a better judge of character, I told them.
And I meant it.
They hated me when I was being polite, and they hate me today. Difference is, I don’t have to hear about it anymore. Hallelujah.
This spring, someone I cared about passed away. Another went into hospital and remains there. No amount of positive thought would have improved their failing health. No thoughts, no words, no actions could have changed the course that they had set sail on. Positive mental approach, my ass. There was no place for that in that new reality of mourning, of the morning after. Not only would it not have been helpful, it would have been an insult. Sometimes, the only way out is through. Get mad. Wallow. Do it over and over. As much as you want. Sometimes there is no feeling better.
Sometimes the only way out for people is death. I have watched good people around me deal with extremely hard end-of-life care, and if I saw someone tell them to ‘keep their chin up’ or ‘visualize a better reality’, I would probably be moved to violence. People need support from other people during dark times, to make hard and often dark choices.
I believe we can re-wire ourselves. Create new patterns, new habits. Even new pathways in our brains. Fake it ’till ya make it. C’mon, get happy. But unless you honour the core of your being, unless you are being honest with yourself, it’s just a facade. Something that will get heavier with time, until it itself is a burden.
No matter what blessings it has brought.
You better be you.
While I better…. B ME.
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