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On Seeing It for What It Is.
I celebrated my 45th birthday a few weeks ago and have realized in the subsequent weeks how much I’ve matured in the five years since turning 40.
I’m not talking about physical maturity. Of course, I have a little more silver in my hair, some deeper lines on my face and I think it’s absurd to wear uncomfortable clothing or be out starting the night at 9PM when I could be at home in my comfy clothes, curled up in my cozy bed, reading a book until I fall asleep. No, what I’m talking about is the mental and emotional maturity that, I now know, comes with middle age.
I think it’s been sneaking up on me for a while, but I’m noticing it most in how I see other people. I’ve always prided myself on believing and teaching my kids that there are no bad people, only bad decisions, but I’ve found that to be a very challenging notion to live by since, well, about 2016.
Despite that though, my perception of others has changed dramatically over the last couple of years as I’ve been working through Panic Disorder and CPTSD related to sexual assault and child sexual abuse.
I used to think that when someone did something that hurt me that was the whole reason they did it, to hurt me. That might have been true in some cases, especially when a particular ex was angry and lashing out at me. But even then, I can see now that he was angry and lashing out because he felt like he had no control over the situation that he was in. That doesn’t make it okay, but it makes it understandable. But as I look back over the other times that I was hurt by others in my life, especially people that I loved and I thought loved me, I’ve come to realize that those things that hurt me were never about me at all.
That expression “hurt people, hurt people” was something I had never heard until a couple years ago. Yes, perhaps I was living under rock, but when I finally did hear it, it was an astounding realization. I felt like I finally understood so many people that are still and had previously been in my life. I didn’t necessarily agree with how they handled those particular situations, but I could finally stand back and see the whole thing from a different perspective. I understood what they were going through, how they got there and that it wasn’t about me, it was always about the person who did the thing.
Perhaps this seems like a fairly obvious observation, but I guess it took me a little longer to get there.
Now this isn’t about forgiveness, I don’t subscribe to the notion that you need to forgive someone to be able to move on. Forgiveness isn’t always possible. I have forgiven a lot of them, but there are a few offenses that still quite literally haunt my dreams, cause me to sleep in a corner with my back against the wall and make it extremely difficult for me to be around men, especially in certain situations.
But now I feel like I’m carrying one less heavy rock in my life baggage, because I no longer have the belief anyone is out to hurt me and make my life more difficult on purpose. Who the hell has the time for that anyway?
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