Well, remember when I said that I felt like 2013 was going to be a better year for everybody?
I was wrong. So very wrong. There are no words that can adequately convey how wrong I was. Hi, my name is Wrongy McWrongerson — how do you do?
Seriously, this doesn’t feel like 2013 so much as 2012 Part Two. 2012, Revised Second Edition. The remix album. Whatever you want to call it. Quite frankly, I’ve been so busy wading through headache after heartache after headache after heartache that I haven’t had the capacity to even think about this blog, never mind post on it.
For instance, one of the biggest things I’ve dealt with this year has been the regrowth of those tumors that were surgically removed from my abdomen last year, this time on my uterus. Not even a month ago, I went under the knife again — another laparotomy, meaning another huge lateral incision in my abdomen to take the uterus out; not to mention the cells that had gathered on the surface of my colon and liver that had to be burned away (with FRICKIN’ LASER BEAMS!). And we haven’t even seen what the biopsies taken from what organs are left in there will reveal; that comes on September 3rd, when I go in for my post-op appointment. Thankfully, we were able to catch this problem before it got too out of hand — but still, it hasn’t been a walk in the park.
And to top it all off, I still haven’t managed to convince my doctors to put a stereo system in the great, big space where my reproductive system used to be. Dammit.
And that’s far from all. I could go on and on, really, but who wants to listen to me whine for a whole post? It’s far more productive, I think, to talk about the things I’ve been learning from all this; after all, there is no better teacher than pain. And because I’ve been experiencing a lot of pain, I’ve been learning more than I ever thought was possible to learn in such a short period of time. This is a good thing, right? Silver linings, and all that.
So, the lessons I’ve learned or had reinforced, in no particular order:
– There’s nothing like a serious medical crisis to show you who really gives a damn about you.
– At the same time, just because someone is there for you in a crisis, be it medical or of another kind, doesn’t necessarily mean they have your best interests at heart. People who are fond of playing chess with human pawns will latch onto you really hard in times of struggle, if you let them. So will leeches.
– I’m lucky to have the unconditional love and support of my family — that is to say my blood relations. A lot of people don’t have the kind of built-in support system that I do; many people’s relationships with their family are too toxic to be relied upon. This isn’t to say that my family doesn’t have their share of problems — they do, and some serious ones, even — but I know that they have my back when the shit hits the fan. And for this, I am grateful.
– You don’t have to put up with situations in which you have to take what little respect and care you can get. If someone is taking you for granted, and they aren’t your underage child, you can and should walk away.
– How much money you make doesn’t matter nearly as much as how you manage your money.
– You cannot pour from an empty cup, no matter how much or how long you try. In order to give, you have to take — or receive (and yes, there’s a difference) — some things to replenish yourself. You will burn out otherwise; it’s a question of when, not if.
– If someone doesn’t want to get better or have a better life, your love will never be enough to help them, no matter how great it is. No matter what they may say to the contrary, there is no code to crack, no secret password that will allow you into the places where others couldn’t go, no blunt object strong enough to force those walls down. They’re either going to want something better for themselves enough to let you help them or not, and that’s a choice only they can make. And no matter what they ultimately choose, it does not constitute success or failure on your part; in fact, you have almost nothing to do with that. If they try to tell you otherwise, they don’t understand how love and support actually work.
– You can say you want things all you want. You can want those things on a purely intellectual level all you want. But unless you also want it deep down, where it really matters, you don’t actually want it very much at all. If there’s always an excuse for why you’re not doing the things you say you want to do, week after week, month after month, year after year . . . it’s time to get real with yourself about what your priorities really are. If you say you want help and support, but there’s always some reason to push away the help and support that’s offered you, it’s time to get real with yourself about whether you actually want it. Your priorities are what they are, and what makes you happy is what makes you happy — and those things are okay, no matter what they are. Be honest about it, though, and save yourself and those around you who are invested in your happiness the heartache of seeing what you only think you want be perpetually unrealized.
– If you don’t have your own house in order, how the hell can you be a safe harbor for those you love?
– “Give credit; accept blame” — provided you don’t take it to an unhealthy extreme — isn’t a bad rule by which to live.
– Real love may change its form, but it never dies. It cannot die. (Even if you really wish it would, which can be quite unfortunate.)
– Your life will improve at least threefold if you learn how and when to shut the ever-living fuck up. You have two ears and one mouth; prudence dictates that you must use them in that proportion. Really, it solves so many problems. (Maybe that’s ironic coming from one of the reigning queens of TL;DR — that would be me, in case it wasn’t already abundantly clear — but hey, at least you can stop reading a blog post and start up again whenever you want, if you want. Not so when you’re interacting directly with other people.)
– Knowing how to say “Enough is enough” and get out of a situation that’s slowly killing you is a really important skill to have.
– Love without respect is not love at all, but patronization.
– If one person insists all the time that you’ve got $CHARACTER_FLAW, but literally everyone else tells you the exact opposite of what the one person says, it’s probably safe to assume that the one person is full of shit (and most likely projecting hir own failings onto you). This also applies to any sycophants and/or generally submissive people the one person may have around hir.
– You can’t hang out with only sycophants and submissive people, and then complain that you don’t have any “real” friends who “really” care about you. (Well, you can, but that doesn’t mean it makes any logical sense.) A real friend is someone who’s willing to stand up to you and whack you on the nose with a newspaper when you’re doing something destructive. If you only surround yourself with yes-people (while pushing away those who try to offer you more than that), of course they’re not going to know what to do when you’re in dire need of support. They look to you for direction! Start hanging out with people who will call you on your bullshit, then, and make sure you don’t get all defensive and shit when they do.
– You may very well have the potential for greatness, but until you start actually doing great things that have a great impact on the world, you are not great or in any way special among humankind. Any thoughts to the contrary are mere delusions of grandeur.
– Your intelligence, no matter how above average it is, does not excuse you from having respect and empathy for other people. If you honestly believe that everybody around you is inferior to you, you’re the problem, not them.
– Intelligence is not the same thing as emotional maturity.
– You can’t bank on intelligence and charisma alone getting you to where you want to be. You can’t woo the kind of life you want over to you; you actually have to work for it.
– There are no situations in which it’s a good idea to put somebody up on a pedestal, no matter who they are or what they are to you. If you do it anyway, the only person who can be held responsible for your bitter disappointment is you.
– When you’re in a relationship, it’s a good idea to keep in mind (and note that keeping something in mind is not the same thing as making it an obsession) that your partner always has other options, no matter who they are, what their gender is, or what kinds of self-esteem issues they have. If you don’t want those other options to start looking really good to your partner, you’d better make sure you’re treating your partner as well as you possibly can and not taking them for granted. If your partner is a selfish asshole who would cheat on you and/or leave you for someone else no matter what you did, at least then you can honestly say that you didn’t contribute to that toxic mess.
– When you’re meeting with an ex-partner to tie up the loose ends of a breakup, it’s good form to leave your friends at home. We stopped bringing our whole posse along to assist in giving our exes the kiss-off back in high school. Adults know how to face other adults on their own.
– It’s unhealthy to spend all of your free time, or even most of your free time, with other people. It’s especially unhealthy when it’s the same few people all the time. You should not be attached at the hip to your significant other, your best friend(s), or your significant other and your best friend(s); that’s not what healthy boundaries look like.
– Just because someone has helped you advance in life doesn’t mean you owe them your life, soul, and firstborn child. No matter what they’ve done to help you in the past, you stop owing them jack shit once they start getting toxic.
– You know how they tell you, “Don’t leave your current job until you have another job”? Turns out that applying that same principle to romantic relationships can be tricky. It’s not that it never works, but it can make dealing with some of the baggage from the previous relationship that much harder, so treading carefully is definitely in order.
– There are many things that are simply impossible to understand until you’ve been there. Sometimes, the only way to become a more compassionate person is by fucking up badly.
– If you don’t deal with the problems you’ve got now — meaning really deal with them, not make a tiny bit of headway here and there, dragging your feet — the universe has a funny way of making things explode in an attempt to autocorrect your life for you . . . and when it does, you’re not going to like it, because the universe is also a sadist (no better teacher than pain, right?). So it’s really in your best interest to fix your life on your own while it’s still relatively easy to fix, rather than wait for the universe to rudely awaken you, grab you by the ear, and drag you along a much bumpier path.
That . . . was a lot. I wouldn’t mind taking a break from learning shit the hard way; quite frankly, I think I’ve earned it, at this point!
May the rest of the year go easier on all of us.