A friend of mine back in Portland is a marriage and relationship counselor and he wrote an article the other day which has been itching my brain something awful.
In it, he postulates that one of the most profound factors in limiting a person’s ability to change who they are and evolve into something better comes not only from our innate ability to self-sabotage said efforts, but also from the external resistance we get from even those people who mean the most to us.
Editorial Note: Rather than further paraphrase what he said, I’ve included a link to his blog here for your edification: The Loneliness of Change
It’s beyond cliche at this point to acknowledge that change of any sort is hard.
We spend our childhoods learning how to contort ourselves into one form after another to appease our parents, teachers, friends, and those who reinforce such spiritual gymnastics under the edict of growing up. And then when we get finally get there, there seems to be a presumption that whoever you are by the time you actually reach adulthood, that’s as far as you go.
For the privileged few, I imagine that’s not that big a deal because they reach a point where they can establish relationships and form the kind of support system which yields little to no resistance to their continued evolution.
Not all of us are so lucky, I promise.
In the course of my life, I’ve realized the need to become something better than I currently was either physically, intellectually, socially or emotionally more times than I can count. My internal dialog has been a constant back-and-forth about what I can do to get myself out of this ongoing stasis I feel like I’ve been trapped in since I was barely a teenager.
Trying to achieve this is hard enough when there’s a constant voice in your head telling you that such things are impossible and not worth the expenditure of time and energy. It’s even worse when your attempts to push through that resistance is met by the passive-aggressive skepticism and indifference of those around you.
That’s the part I genuinely don’t get. If you have someone who at the point where the ability to evolve isn’t just required, it’s essential to their long-term happiness and future, why in the name of common sense would anyone want to hamstring them so they can’t achieve that goal?
Why? Because that means they’ll become someone different and to a lot of us that’s just not kosher.
Editorial Note: Now lest you think I’m getting all holier-than-thou about this, I’ll be the first to admit that looking back, I’ve done more than my share to hinder the growth and evolution of the people I hold closest to me for much the same reason. I was content with them as they were and it maintained my emotional attachment with them to keep things static. That was a grave mistake on my part which I regret deeply and I’d like to think I’ve learned enough about how dangerous a practice that is to no undermine their efforts anymore.
I like to think that I have enough people in my life who recognized that I’ve been put in situations which called for me to make decisions they might not agree with or even like. Some of them were due to my own actions or inactions. Others were the cause of actions and inactions of someone else. Each instance, regardless of the source, left me with the same overriding question.
Where do I go from here and how can I make my life better?
And it’s beyond frustrating to make choices that are met with silence, skepticism, indifference or even some form of indignation for my daring to not be the same ol’ me, whether it comes to where I live, how I live, what I do for a living or the things I’m passionate about.
Case in point – I recently managed to get back to work on the second draft of my novel and I figured that I’m about ten chapters into the rewrite, I should see if it’s any good, at least, so I can have some idea on if I can keep going or if I ought to scrap it and start all over. I put out a call across my social network for anyone who might be able to help give it a look-over and got all of four responses. Four.
Now I know that the way social media algorithms and newsfeeds work, there’s a high probability that not everyone saw it and not everyone’s going to be able to pitch in. But in my mind, the complete absence of interest tells me something altogether different.
You suck as a writer, just like you suck at everything else.
It was a similar feeling I got when I started seeing my therapist and trying to get grip on the Depression and PTSD I was told I had after going through two separate batteries of tests a few years ago.
Undertaking therapy after being diagnosed with mental illness is bad enough on its own, given the mind’s ability to rebel against itself, and it only gets compounded by comments and questions which imply that I’m either making it up, I’m exaggerating it for dramatic effect in exchange for sympathy, or I’m somehow stupid enough to take someone in an educated medical capacity at their word after they looked me over and said something to the effect of, “You’re in bad shape, pal.”
Which ultimately begs the question, Is my need to reach a point where I can be both healthy and happy, rather than constantly miserable and isolated, such a bad thing for you?
That’s not rhetorical either, because in order for me to get there, it’s probably going to involve me doing some things that not everyone’s going to like.
I need to know so I can figure out just what version of me everyone wants me to be.