I’m happy to hear that many of you have had a great 2012 and I hope that your 2013 will be as good or better.
I’m resolved to be very candid in sharing that the closing of 2012, for me, has been marked by major changes which may be for the better but challenging nonetheless. It’s also been marked by some painful regrets and humbling realizations about myself.
I have come to pride myself on being a highly self-aware person through much personal effort. Indeed, I have learned a lot in the last few years, there is no denying that. Yet without being aware of it, I came to depend on this being a new and all encompassing fact about myself. Mike, the new king of self-awareness! Yep that’s me!
This all came crashing down for me on multiple fronts, with different people, just in these last few weeks leading up to the new year.
They were not directly connected to each other, but only indirectly through me. The first of these would be my partner over the past four years. With her I thought I could take care of everything. I even thought I was. I thought I had no limits in my ability to handle things that were making me unhappy, or that I could bypass them. I thought that everything was my responsibility. I thought I understood her needs. If it wasn’t hers, it HAD to be mine, right? I thought I was communicating well enough. In short I thought I knew what I was doing. This was all wrong.
In the other, I thought I knew myself. I thought I was aware of my own expectations. I thought I knew what I was feeling, and I thought I knew why. I thought I was in control of those feelings. I thought that it could exist in its own happy microcosm and not be affected by what was happening in the others and my resulting sensitivity and emotional vulnerability. I thought that this new super-self-awareness had me covered. I thought that progress in handling feelings was always in a positive direction; that a lesson learned was learned forever. I thought I was being a good friend, or at least… an open and candid one. Wrong again.
In the first, the reality is that I was burying my needs, making false presumptions about theirs, and suppressing communication to spare their feelings which might have helped to avoid so much damage done to both of us. Even the bits that were not my responsibility would probably have been dealt with if I’d not suppressed my feelings and instead spoken up.
With the other, I ultimately found that I had regressed in being able to navigate my emotions or was at least temporarily beyond my capacity to do so. I found that knowing why you behave in some way is not an automatic fail-safe against doing it again. In hindsight I believe I was careless. I put myself into situations that I knew would lead to me having even stronger feelings for her. I put too much hope into this being a super happy new thing to counteract all the suckage going on elsewhere; Maybe some sort of catalyst for a new phase of life. I don’t know.
I believe that what was right in front of me was far better than anything I seemed to be pushing for, or at least much like what I really needed: an amazingly accepting and candid friend who really liked me for me and who obviously enjoyed spending time with me. I ended up driving her away. I pushed her boundaries; not just once but twice in short duration and in the same way. It remains to be seen how much has been damaged.
The king self-awareness is feeling more like a second-rate jester. Despite having a pretty good time with my partner on New Years Eve, I went to sleep with a lot on my mind, my chest aching with regrets and sadness. A new, dear friend having been pushed away by my foolishness. My relationship with my dear partner on the verge of major change and reinvention as she moves to her own place with friends. So many mistakes and sorrows.
I don’t believe it fate. I don’t believe in any sort of magical power imbued into the event of a clock rolling over. Yet, I find it poignant that I should wake up this morning, January the first, with the ache dissipating, and being displaced by a sombre feeling of… acceptance.
Yes, acceptance. I’ve forgotten you again. It occurs to me that I gave that new friend some great advice about acceptance when we recently reconnected. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve found myself giving advice that I neglected to follow myself. Seems like a good time to remedy this.
I think that acceptance is not the same as pretending that everything was fine or that it doesn’t matter. It certainly does matter. I am not an island and I can’t ignore how I’ve affected these people in my life.. I don’t think that it means not having any regret either, and I certainly have no shortage of those right now.
I think acceptance is letting go of that desire to deny, to release the vice grip on our heart from trying to crush the painful truth out of existence. It is expanding our view out past the narrow perspective of that painful moment in time to re-incorporate our present and our future. When we do, we allow it take on meaning beyond our self-destruction and denial.
Yes, I did these things and they may reveal unflattering truths about me. I can feel fear and regret ask myself, “What does this say about me?” Then I can either choose to deny that truth, or I can take a step back and ask “What will I do with this knowledge?”
Strangely enough it was the making of this new friend that sparked some awareness in me of the candidness and vulnerability which was missing in the relationship with my partner. It lead to lengthy discussion and exposure of painful truths about how far we’d come off track, but has also opened up the possibility of acceptance and healing between us.
So, these are my hopes for the new year. To live candidly. To embrace my desires, at least in principle. To accept my limitations and fallibility. To accept that I will not always remember each of these things. To mend what I have damaged whenever I can. To keep on trying regardless. To exercise acceptance.
I look forward to new possibilities in 2013. I know that not everything is in my hands, but it does start with me. Hopefully meet you on the road!