Tuesday, December 29, 2009
End of Decade Philosophizing
I have been reading the blog of Lisa, a woman I knew from my old nonprofit work, who has had many challenges lately. It really reminds me of my years between 2002-2007, only her issues (cancer, for example) have been truly hard challenges. She posted this today, which I encourage you to read. Since I wrote a huge long response, and since I have been so down the past month or two that I haven't posted much here, I thought I'd share my comment here. As context, she talks about the topic of "why me"? Why does all this crap happen, all at once, to people who are trying to lead a good life, treat others well, and raise productive children? I said:
Well, my deep descent began right about this time ten years ago. At one point, I remember telling people the light at the end of the tunnel felt like it was only a few atoms wide. It all took me by surprise. I thought that since I was smart, tried to be kind, worked hard, and focused on helping others that good stuff would happen to me. I thought things that didn't go well were because I had made bad decisions, so I worked really hard to be kind and make good decisions.
What the years of partners leaving, friends betraying me, jobs that disappeared or stressed me to the max, and financial horrors told me was that I am NOT in control. No matter how smart or nice I try to be or how hard I work, stuff can happen. I can't make people treat me the way I want to be treated. I can't stop illnesses in myself or my family. It happens.
Worse was how long it took me to figure out that this stuff wasn't punishment for being a "bad person, bad friend, bad spouse, bad worker, bad parent, etc." And it didn't mean that the people who "did stuff" to me were bad either. Things just happen. Sure, it helps to try to make good decisions and keep living my life according to my personal values (treat others as you would like to be treated). But that won't make life easy.
All I can control is how I react to things. I guess this is the same lesson you are learning, too. It sure took me a long time. And still, occasionally I fall back into the panic mode and cry out, "Why me?"
I still work for peace in my home, my community and the world, even though I know there are huge groups of people and corporations who do not share this agenda. I will still fight for religious tolerance and appreciation of the wonderful variety of cultures in the world, even with all the forces who think anything "other" should be squashed. That makes me feel good. That keeps me going.
And I expect crappy stuff will keep happening. But I have stopped punishing myself and blaming others. That has not helped.
Hmm, I'll go put this endless comment in my blog, so it will have content this month.
I'll try to post more. Really, nice stuff has happened in addition to stress--the kids are great, I really enjoy my coworkers and work (when I have it). Lee is a great husband and very kind to me. I have some fine neighbors, knitting friends, church friends and online pals. We all have challenges. Just sometimes it's harder to cope than others, and this has been one of my harder times. Funny, though, I think it makes me appreciate the good stuff even more.