I’ve been through the clichéd experience of ‘finding myself’
recently, but before you start thinking I made a choice to go through this experience- no - I was dragged, kicking and screaming. And, my version of ‘finding myself’ was not a search for the meaning of life, or long restful days meditating, or travelling, or any of those quite nice pathways to finding oneself. My version of finding myself was instigated by my life just imploding, and me actually trying to find myself out of the scattered remnants.
When one’s life is shattered it quickly becomes clear what is truly important and what drives one to despair. My loved ones have the capacity to lift me up and carry me through hard times and the power to totally destroy me. Sometimes strength simply must be found from within; no-one can or should carry you forever.
I have learned how much I depend on my loved ones and how much they depend on me, but this is not the full lesson. The full lesson is that while my loved ones have the power to wound me with unkind words, I too have the power to hurt them with mine. So when I felt hurt by words and festered away on them and let them boil in my mind, I took the time to imagine someone dear to me feeling the same way about some words I may have said.
When you know your own intent, and inside feelings it’s horrible to think that someone may be affected by your words in a way that you never intended. Assumptions are made that loved ones know you so intimately that they know more than words, they know the 'inside you' so they could never misunderstand your intent.
So how can I avoid making people I love feel bad? I don’t want to bruise anybody’s soul. I’m especially bad at talking first and thinking later, but if I censor myself will I still be the same person? And who am I really? Am I who I think I am, or who others think I am? For instance I've heard quite a lot that I am 'harsh' which makes part of my insides ache, but I have to accept having heard it enough times that that must be how I come across. So this must be a word about who I am even if I don't feel like that inside.
What can I do with the bad things said to, or about me? What do these words look like all together? It’s easy to fall into the trap of blaming others for hurting you, but by contrast, defending yourself vehemently when the finger of blame is pointed in your direction.
In an attempt to be my own guidance counselor I decided to write all the words about me down. Luckily I'm blessed enough to have amazing friends and family who also say nice words about me, better words than I'd use to describe myself. I gave myself a reasonable amount of space on a big piece of paper and started writing. At first it was slow going, I wondered whether I could successfully fill the space. I wrote words I thought about myself, words other people had said to me, words that are labels applied to me, bad words about me, and good words about me. By the time I was finished I realised I had filled the space but could have carried on.
There are a lot of words about me, and I didn’t feel bad about them at all. They are part of what makes me a whole and truly authentic being. Having just nice words about me would be nice, but it would be only part of the picture. Words can hurt, and words can heal, but they are just words. They are words about me that tell a story, and I’m happy with how my story is going.