I’m pretty sure I’ve used this quote before because, well, I still am dealing with some very difficult people in my life. When you reflect upon the challenges and other things that you’ve gone through in your life and you realize as you get older that you need to somehow begin the process of coming to terms with certain facts. You simply cannot change others and that change emerges from within. Accepting this you will slowly find a semblance of peace.
I am a very sensitive person. When people say things to me, about me, around me, I process them as very personal things and oftentimes misread comments and internalize more than I should. Knowing that I’m not alone, I try hard to understand that not everything is negative, but when you’ve been through many years of physical and emotional abuse and consecutive losses of loved ones, it is easy to become jaded, distrustful and difficult. One doesn’t seek out to be this way, but it happens.
It’s easy to ask for advice when it comes to dealing with people who makes things so hard for you. Many will tell you to “ignore” the person or not interact with them. When it’s family and you are no longer the only person who interacts with them, you have to weigh cutting off contact with how it will affect others. If others choose not to cut off contact, then you have to formulate a plan on how to be diplomatic.
In a way, these types of issues remind me of what it might be like to divorce with children. Since I’ve never experienced that, I can only truly use speculative comparison. You no longer will be married to your spouse, but you share children. So, even if the divorce occurred under stressful or very hurtful circumstances, there is a level of diplomacy that must be incorporated into the future if you desire to create an amicable relationship for the sake of the children.
This situation, for me, is conceptually similar, however, for over two decades, I have systematically been growing as a person, learning, striving for better control over my reactions, healing from abuse (more recent), dealing with loss etc, while the individual in question has remained stagnant and steadfast in their attempt to, without having to even try, upset me or “rattle my cage” as it is said. Years ago, it was easy and I allowed it to happen, let it stress me out to the point of physical sickness (nausea, insomnia, etc) and rule my thoughts. Now, I feel more of a sense of pity as I witness this person simply unable to live in the moment and let life be the ever-changing journey it should be.
I had to stifle a smile when I saw this book while researching the topic. I’m sure that the author is well versed and educated on the topic and, most likely, has many good, informative tips about how to process things related to this. However, for me, I haven’t read the book and even with the existence of many publications of this nature, I seriously doubt that if I took the time to read this, that it would do any good with this individual.
So, what I am choosing to do is take the high road…again. I say again, because I have done this over and over again, utilizing the thought process that you cannot change people. Their nature is inherent and while many people make the decision to change and better themselves, this person is NEVER EVER going to change. So, it is now my decision to act according to a way that helps ME deal with them and allows ME to not let them influence my mood or the way that I live my life. I did that for too long.
Part of the issue with learning to become a strong and independent person lies in the past. Many say often that you should “forget the past” or “that’s in the past”. What a lot of people don’t realize is that who we are today and the emotional maturity we develop goes way back. Whether or not you believe in psychotherapy or childhood development, the way that you were nurtured and cared for as a child has a great deal of impact on the person you become as an adult. Of course, I’m not counting things like a possible mental illness or other challenges that might distort ones ability to achieve their optimal level of growth, but our past has a great deal more to do with our present than others might be aware of.
For me, that childhood consisted of a very unaffectionate and distant emotional connections with my family that made effective interpersonal relationships very challenging for me as an adult. Situations when I thought I had someone to depend on were quickly revealed as my standing totally alone. Not everyone handles that well, but I believe that the desire to ensure my children’s comfort and safety superseded any “curl up in a ball and fall apart” mechanism that attempted to rise up in me. While I still have my anxiety and other emotional challenges that I work on every day, I am a much stronger person than I was seven years ago when abuse left my life the day I was widowed.
I will always be a work in progress…and I’m OK with that.