Maybe it’s the perfectionist in me, but whenever something goes wrong in any of my relationships I assume it’s my fault. It’s because I’m weird or said the wrong thing or did the wrong thing. I am always to blame. Except. . .I’m not.
I had an encounter with a friend last week that showed me other people are to blame too. I’m not always the bad guy. Yeah, I “knew” other people had flaws but somehow they didn’t register because the really flawed people I don’t associate with. I somehow assumed everyone around me was near perfect because they didn’t club baby seals. My rose-colored glasses finally fell off when I looked at my friend and really saw him. He can be impulsive and live completely in the now, which means he doesn’t always think things through. A little part of me worries about typing that because, “What will my friend think?” but honestly he probably won’t think much because -- it’s ok for me to not be “perfect” and it’s ok for other people to not be perfect as well. We’re human. We all have our character flaws. All of us. Even the really nice lovely people. Even those we cherish the most. So when I’m fighting with someone, no, I’m not solely to blame. No, I’m not the only one who makes mistakes. I’m not the only screw up in the room.
Other people have free will, other people are allowed to make choices and mess up, and yeah, that will affect me. No one else has all the answers or “acts perfectly” or has it all figured out. No one else has a manual for how to go through life. I thought they did, I felt like an alien invader, but now I realize everyone else is just trying to figure it out too. Some people put on a better show than others, but really everyone is just doing their best putting one foot in front of the other.
I guess I’m saying I finally understand relationships involve other people. (Duh Rebekah!) Other people are allowed to air their dirty laundry, to play out their character defects, to blunder through life. I don’t have to hold myself to a different standard, either higher or lower. People are going to be who they are and oftentimes it has nothing to do with me. I didn’t do anything wrong, I didn’t elicit a certain response. People are just. . .people.
I’m not conveying it very well but I feel such relief because I finally know my part in things, and it’s not everything. I finally understand how much is my stuff and how much is other people’s stuff. What a relief to not constantly take ownership of other people’s flaws! What a relief to acknowledge where I went wrong and where other people went wrong! Not with judgment but with acceptance. What a relief to say, “Oh, I see, they’re being impulsive, or acting out their control issues, or miring in entitlement,” or whatever and realize it’s theirs. To be living completely attuned to myself. What a gift.
I dream of a world where we can recognize people as people. A world where we understand everyone is doing their best, everyone has their character kinks they’re working on. A world where we understand what belongs to us and what belongs to other people. A world where we live on our side of the street, knowing it’s more than enough to take care of.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.