After spending two weekends with extended family and in closed quarters with immediate family, I am beginning to realize what most already know: It's probably me.
If I don't get along with so-and-so, and if another so-and-so annoys me, and if I can't stop my anger with so-and-so and so-and-so... what is this saying about me? Yes, perhaps I'm surrounded by hard-to-get-along-with people, but the reality is that they are wonderful people. I am wonderful, too, I know (see me being positive?), but if I'm the one having the hardest time with all of us, then perhaps it's time to really look inward. Not like I have before (the martyr's syndrome, which my sister totally called me on last week (she was so right)), but truly, truly see myself.
And notice how my friends come and go... how I find myself being shut out over and over again... the things people say to me that I'm supposed to just overlook...
This can't all be other people. This has to be me. I'm the constant in all of this. Granted, I'm not so far gone to assume that it is all my fault. There are some really insensitive and stubborn people in my family, and I have been incredibly hurt by past (and current) friends. But still, something isn't quite right, and if I have a chance to make things better for myself (and others?), I believe I need to.
Being a sensitive, optimistic, caring, people-person is really hard. Gut-wrenching, agonizingly, tear-stained hard. The biggest issues I have in therapy deal with two things: desiring approval/validation (both selfishly and because I truly love people), and debilitating self-loathing --because I can't seem to hold onto approval/validation and non-existent expectations of others. I find myself trapped in a mind that understands, logically, the fallacy of relying on others for happiness, but in the next moment can't grasp the reality of that logic, and instead yearns for complete acceptance from all. From nature, from God, from family, from friends, from strangers... all.
When I think of the people I've hurt in my life, I ache. Deeply. Even when I've apologized for lashing out, for being hurtful, for saying insensitive things, I've learned that some relationships just can't be saved or salvaged. At best, it's awkward; at worst, they cease to exist. Even decades later, I still cringe because of how I treated people. I'm embarrassed/humiliated I did those things to them, to the people who have moved on and have probably forgotten my name... or existence...
I see it happening in my life all the time. Where is the balance? The yin and yang between love of people and love of self?
I've spent many times on my knees asking Heavenly Father to help me and I believe He has. Slowly, but surely, He's there with me. I have felt the power of Christ's Atonement when I have repented of how I've treated others, I have felt it when I have repented of how I've treated myself. But I have so much further to go...
And that's how I realize that my struggle in life will be just that: a lifetime struggle. I don't know if God will ever take away my mental illness and I doubt He'll take my personality (a lot of which rocks, thankyouverymuch). I believe this is because each time I'm stripped of pride, each time I'm burned to the ground with humiliating reality, each time I'm confronted with high-road dilemmas, and struck with shocking truth of my failings, I turn to Him. And that is the point. The goal is to be One with my Savior, to be One with my Heavenly Father. He can't teach me what I need to know if I'm already perfect --He can't teach me what I need to know if I don't fail. A lot.
A lot, lot, lot.
And so, here I am, devastated again at the complete emotional exhaustion of spending time with my family (whom I love dearly) and yet grateful I had the experience. Perhaps the day will come when I will be able to overlook all mistakes in others, and in myself, but until then, I'll just keep trying. I'm grateful I have the chance to do that, dear reader. I'm grateful I can keep trying!