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Showing posts with label reflections. Show all posts
Showing posts with label reflections. Show all posts

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Projections of the Way I Used to Be

You ever make a boneheaded mistake or  poor choice that you were not proud of?   You ever hurt anybody in way you weren't proud of?   You ever fail as a parent in a big way?   You ever just fail in a big way you weren't proud of?  I think everyone has been there.  Sometimes or some people may want to talk out those situations or circumstance, but other times and other people will not.  I think sharing with the world all your dirty laundry can be really dumb, but avoiding it all costs is just as foolish.   For me, I've never been one to brag on social media or elsewhere or otherwise just breathlessly admit failures.  For me, it can be like the "Wanna Get Away" commercials from Southwest Airlines.  If I were to wrecked my car, the last thing I want to do is admit on social media about it.  For me it feels like admitting that I'm a terrible driver--even if that is not a proper characterization. I'd rather be just wanting to get away and to pretend the bad thing or mistake never happened.

I've noticed an interesting tendency that some people have.  Sometimes when people make mistakes or bad choices or otherwise fail in a way that would be humiliating--or condemning if known, they will try to secretly 'atone' for it rather own it.  Some examples:
  • Rep. Mark Foley - He was chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, yet he was found to have inappropriate communications with a young page.  He "couldn't" publicly own his failings, but by chairing the committee, he could at least feel better about himself.  That is, in his mind, perhaps he could privately even the scorecard.  He'd be helping more people than he hurt or so he might think.  Never mind, his failing would be seized on by those that he had helped to expose.  
  • Ministers/priests who have come down hard on sexual deviancy, but later have been found to have engaged in it themselves.  They can't own their own 'sin' publicly, but they could feel better about themselves.  After all, by cleaning up deviancy in the community, they WERE doing the "Lord's work".  Never mind, that they were compromised and were privately undermining the "Lord's work" in the process.
The mindset appears to be, if I do enough good, it will atone or cover for the mistakes or bad choices I've made.   Anyone who knows anything about a recovery program realizes how flawed that thinking is.  It is important to own up to your bad or failures as it is to own up to your good or successes.  Not doing so
  • Can undermine your credibility on your good.  In other words, good that is seen as a way of atoning for hidden or minimized bad, will probably be discredited as soon as the bad comes out.  Even if the good was done with the best intentions, if it is tied to the bad, it will probably be seen as being done strictly out of bad intentions. 
  • Deprives you of an opportunity to grow and potentially become a positive spokesperson of sorts.  Our culture can be VERY forgiving.   
    • In the movie Catch Me If You Can, the lead character Frank Abagnale Jr. runs into trouble after his parents divorce, and commits widespread fraud, the most notable of which is check fraud.  He spent time in a maximum security prison before FBI agent Carl Hanratty, who was the one that tracked him down and eventually caught him, convinced his superiors to let Frank serve out the rest of his sentence on the outside while helping the FBI with check fraud.  Mr. Abagnale was forced to face his mistakes and instead of continuing his failed path, he turned it around and did right by society.  He owned up to whom he was and accepted the cost of it.  Doing so allowed him to move on and become example of prison leading to a successfully reformed convict.
    • Robert Downey Jr. struggled with drug addiction for years.  But he owned up to his failures and he was given a second chance legally and career-wise.  He is now recognized as a successful man and actor and a serious voice in the national conversation.
  • Can deprive you of the ability to make amends or fix the problem on terms more favorable to you.  Anyone who follows politics knows that politicians who get in front of bad news tend to survive the consequences thereof better.   It's painful to do so, but as Bill Clinton's survival  before and during his presidency indicates, owning up to bad news rather than hiding from it can help you out in the long run.
I've been guilty of something a little bit different than that.  I have sometimes misplaced or projected my feelings onto another mistake or screw-up.  In other words, I'd be VERY harsh on myself for something smaller, but will not want to talk about the bigger screw-up.  Inevitably, I noticed in those type of situations, when I don't own up properly to my mistake or failing, it still had a way of getting back at me.  Over the years, I've lost a friendship or two by not owning up to properly to a/some mistake(s) or failing(s) at the time.

Eventually, bad news comes out and people aren't happy when they've heard it elsewhere.  By owning up to much to a lessor screw-ups when in reality I felt bad about something worse,  I was projecting my shame onto a small/smaller mistake.   It's sort of like dismissing culpability in an accident, but beating yourself up over cutting off someone off yesterday during a drive.   No, if I caused an accident, then I should own up properly to my role in it, even if doing so would expose reckless driving.   Pretending or minimzing my role in it, but then saying, but you know I have inadvertently cut others off before is sort of ludicrous. But that's essentially is the driving version of what I'm talking about.

It's hard to own up fully to mistakes, but in the long run, it is better for all who might be involved.  To do otherwise is essentially like a half-hearted apology or a half-hearted acknowledgement of role or culpability.  Beating yourself more over old news, doesn't help if you need to own up or atone for 'today'.    If I break the fine china and try to hide that fact, but tell you out of guilt or shame that I dropped and broke a glass, it doesn't help you.   For when it time for you to pull out and use the fine china, you will find out then that it is not available and you will be more upset that I hid that I broke it.  My displacement of it by condemning myself too much about breaking a glass, doesn't really solve anything.  Just saying...

I'm sure other can relate.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

The reflection across the pond: Hello from the Other Side

You know sometimes, you are just minding your own business going along with your life and you hear something which you may or may not have heard before and it hits you like a ton of bricks.   I've heard the song Hello by Adele before.  I knew it was powerful the first time I heard it. I knew she was saying something profound and there was regret imbued in it.   But, I heard it again on a calm and extended drive home from work.  There was no trying to rush into work, no trying to beat traffic, nothing hanging over my head from work or the like.  In other words, I had a pretty clear mind at that point.

So, I hear her song and it seems to be about a relationship and regret.   I've read where she indicate that was it was about being on the other side of childhood including regret about missing things from earlier in her life.   But, as I was listening to it, I realized that it really can apply to numerous circumstances or situations.  Dennis DeYoung had a falling out with Styx and he no longer is part of the group, yet I've heard him express time and time again wanting to be part of the mix with them.  He's had a good life overall so far and has had a good marriage, but there seems to be something missing.  For fans of Styx, it really is a tragedy as the band is so much more complete with him.   I can imagine current day Dennis DeYoung talking to his younger self, telling himself to back off and later his bandmates from the future expressing what he'd learned from over time.  I kind of reflected on the situation in Heartache: Wanting the one thing you can't have.

From my life, the lives of others around me and having a front row to society here is a list of those who you can say "Hello from the Other Side" to (not in any particular order)

Hello to
- Your childhood and yourself
- Your friends
- Your family of origin
- Your exes, significant other
- Your children
- Your Higher Power
- Your strangers
- Your teammates
- Your neighbors/community/society

  • Your Higher Power
    • You didn't trust your Higher Power when the opportunities was presented and obvious.
    • You didn't listen to your Higher Power when you were being 'spoken' too.
    • You didn't value your Higher Power's role in your life. 
    • You blamed your Higher Power instead of understanding that your Higher Power is not there to save you from every possible bad outcome or circumstance.
    • You treated your Higher Power as if your Higher Power's purpose was to serve you rather than to guide as deemed best.
    • You may have cared about your Higher Power, but didn't necessarily love or showed that you did.
  • Your neighbors/community/society
    • You treated them as if they were there just to serve you rather than you being a contributor.
    • You treated them as if you didn't have to follow the rules or etiquette. That is to say you thought that 'rules are for others'.
    • You didn't accept or appreciate your role in the neighborhood/community/society.
  • Your strangers
    • Kind of like society, but on a more individual level.
    • You were abusive and took advantage of others expecting you wouldn't face consequences or have to interact with them.
    • You didn't extend a hand of kindness or friendship when you could have, but instead looked out for your own needs.
  • Your teammates
    • This could apply to whatever team you are part of (band, sports, etc.)
    • You didn't take your role as part of the team seriously.  You were more interested in how your needs were or weren't being met.
    • You didn't appreciate how your teammates were looking out for you and had your back even when you didn't necessarily 'earn' or 'deserve' it.
    • You weren't there for your team the way or time needed: Especially when they needed you the most.
  • Your childhood and self.
    • You were so critical on yourself. 
    • You judged yourself against a higher standard than you were capable of.  
    • You acknowledged the barriers you faced (at least rhetorically), but your actions showed that you treated them as well you should have been able to hurdle them anyway, no matter how high they were.   You acted like you should have been able to deal with anything and everything as if you had an adult's understanding and maturity.
    • You blamed yourself for things that were beyond your control.   When you were hurt, you blamed yourself for allowing it.  You were imperfect and condemned yourself.
  • Your friends, exes and significant other
    • You took them for granted and didn't value them properly.  You expected them to always be there.  Even sometimes ignoring warning signs.
    • You expected more from them than they were capable of and got upset when they, like you, proved to be human too.
    • You didn't always hold up your end of the relationship and sometimes seemed more concerned about what you could get out of it.
    • You didn't bring them in, when you could have or should have.
  • Your family of origin
    • You weren't always the best brother, sisters, son, daughter, or other 'family' that you could have been.
    • You took others in the family for granted, because honestly, well they would always be family.  In other words, you have to accept me because I'm your family.
    • You were too worried about your own 'needs' and didn't take the time to discover, to embrace, to cherish or to even just be part of your family.
  • Your children
    • You treated them like they were a mistake
    • You treated them is if they were there to be seen only.
    • You treated them as if their needs were not serious as only 'grown up' needs matter.
    • You didn't take the time to get to know them.
    • You treated them as if they were there to reflect well on you and not as if how they felt mattered.
    • You were abusive to them and not understanding.

It can be easy to acknowledge on a surface level failures, mistakes and hurts (to you and from you), but really acknowledging your role can be difficult, especially when you aren't necessarily the only culpable party involved, you've been hurt too and life circumstances have led to distrust of others.  My dad made some mistakes as a person and a parent and found it exceedingly difficult to directly acknowledge them or to open up about himself or give background of any sort.  I know he grew up mostly in foster care, was let down by many, had super strict (possibly to the point of abusive) foster parents, probably was judged vary harshly including by himself and just found it hard to trust others.  I've had my own abuse as spoken about in #MeAsWell: For What It's Worth and in being bullied in my adolescence.  I know having to deal with that helps to make you guarded.  Unfortunately part of being guarded means that you don't always acknowledge your role out of distrust how it could be utilized against you.    

To me her song is about realizing, understanding or accepting how the role you have played in the lives of yourself and others.  It is about being willing to really acknowledge and apologize where appropriate for your role in how things have unfolded.  It is about realizing that ultimately that it shouldn't be about you past acknowledging your role.  It is a clear reflection and expression of remorse, regret and sorrow where appropriate.  Sometimes, frankly regarding the time that we are reflecting back on, we think we are doing the right thing(s) with the right motive(s).  Sometimes, you are acting with the best of intentions too.  Sometimes, in reflection, it is clear that we were wrong and that we couldn't have known.  Sometimes, in reflection, we should have known better.  Sometimes, in reflection, we can honestly say we did no better.

While much of this doesn't necessarily apply to my situation, some of it does.   To that extent, to those who I've ever played a negative role in their life (including myself), I'm sorry and I give a big Hello from the other side, realizing my role, failure or mistake.  I hope someone finds these words as meaningful as I have.