Thursday, December 25, 2008
When Someone Shows You Who They Are... Believe Them
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results" - Albert Einstein
We're all just going through life trying our best. Trying to succeed at all the things we aim to accomplish, trying to figure out how to be happy, trying to make the best decisions that we can at the moment with the information we have.. and trying to look our best.
What else can we do? None of us are perfect human beings. That's what I think life is about - going along, fucking up, paying the price, asking for forgiveness, learning, and in turn, becoming a better person.
Is anyone of us really perfect? When you look back on your life is it really that hard to think of something that you've done that makes you say to yourself - "Shit, what the hell was I thinking? What on earth possessed me to do that?". Probably not.
Now, I don't believe in living with regret. I've done a million stupid things in my life... at least. But I believe my mistakes and the lessons I've learned from them have made me a better person. They've changed how I see the world and how I move through it just as much as the good things I've done... if not more.
People make mistakes. And if we're lucky enough to live a long exciting life, we'll make a boat load of them.
It's hard not to get hung up on ourselves and cast judgement on other people sometimes. Its easy to think "that person is such an idiot. How can he not know what the hell he was doing? What a moron, what a piece of crap." I've found myself doing it and have had it done to me. It sucks both ways.
I try my best to be understanding. Try to put myself in other peoples shoes and "get" why they do what they do when they do it. It's tough.
Sometimes it takes time and things only seem clear after it's all said and done. Hindsight is 20/20 or some shit like that.
What I don't get is making the same mistakes twice... Especially mistakes that effect other people.
- Learning from our mistakes and not repeating them is what makes us better.
- Acknowledging our mistakes and repeating them anyway is what makes us pieces of fucked up shit.
The key is not being wreckless. Sometimes people know they're doing the wrong thing and continue on anyway. That makes forgiveness hard. It's hard to forgive conscious mistakes. It's easier to forgive mistakes that were made because of lack of information or experience.
There are two sides of forgiveness - Forgiving someone else and asking to Be Forgiven. Both can be incredibly difficult.
It's not always easy to ask for forgiveness. Pride gets in the way and makes it hard to admit fault. But asking forgiveness and admitting a mistake doesn't necessarily need to involve going to the person you've wronged, with your tail between your legs and kissing their feet. If you know what you've done wrong in your heart, it shows.
But that brings me to the act of forgiveness. How do you know when someone is deserving of forgiveness? Is it the sincerity of the apology? Is it talking about what went wrong and truly believing the person has learned, is sorry and won't do it again? What is it? Some people are just more willing to forgive than others. Stubborn people who hold grudges are angry on the inside. I was like that for years.. I don't think it's uncommon for teenage girls to be angry but I took it to new heights. As I got older I've learned that forgiveness is like letting go. Letting go of negative energy that would eat me alive from the inside out if I held on to it. Forgiving has been a very selfish act for me - I've done it to set myself free.
I believe in karma. It's got me a few times. I'm glad it did because it's made the lesson all the more memorable. It's like getting smacked with a whip after doing something naughty even if you weren't naughty on purpose. It leaves a scar and it's a strong reminder of what you've done and how it all felt. That scar serves as a reminder not to do the same thing again.
Once when I was ten I was walking down the street with my father. My dad was a real SOB. Brutal but brilliant. Certifiably insane and wildly aggressive, uncontrolable and strong but Columbia Grad several times over and proud member of Mensa. He loved me but had strange, difficult to understand kinds of ways of showing it. Anyway, I went to step out into the street without looking both ways. Even though it was obvious there weren't any cars coming, before my foot touched the street he geared up and smacked me so hard across the face with his huge calloused hand that my ears rung. I think I went cross eyed for a minute, ended up with a hand print on one side of my face and cried in public (which made made him mad enough to smack me again). This was one of his more gentile moments. That's the way he was... all the time.
It's taken me a lifetime to forgive my father for the way he showed his "love" and for his disfunctional brain. As I got older I realized there was a physical chemical imbalance and a whole lifetime of his own trauma that made him who he was. I understand him and love him and I've forgiven him. Forgiveness has been the only thing that's allowed me to move on. That, and staying far, far away for years.
The moral of the story is... I never stepped into the street again without looking both ways. The pain of the lesson made me never forget it. Sometimes pain is physical, sometimes it's emotional. Emotional scars last longer from my experience.
If you repeat your mistakes, you deserve to get burned. I'm not exempt from this rule.
If you let someone else repeat their mistakes at your expense too many times, you deserve that too. Give people the opportunity to fuck with you too many times and they will. It comes to the point sometimes that you have to suck it up and realize that people just don't change. You have to trust your instincts. Get rid of denial and see people for who they actually are, not who you wish they could be. When people show you who they are... believe them. Even if the truth is ugly.
My Granny told me she heard someone say something like - "Burn me once, shame shame on you. Burn me twice, shame shame on me."
"The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget." - Szasz
Has there been a time in your life where you've made mistakes with far reaching consequences? Mistakes that you've made that didn't seem like mistakes at the time but once things became clearer you realized you fucked up big time? How do you ask forgiveness? Do you forgive yourself first? Or, do you just say fuck it, a lesson learned?
I hope this post inspires you to think about the people you've wronged or someone you should forgive. I hope you think back on some of the things you've done in your own life.
Reflection is a good thing. It's healthy. It helps us grow.