Personal responsibility is a son of a bitch. I didn't realize how skewed the entire concept was in my mind until I spent this past weekend reflecting on my feelings and separating them from the feelings of other people. There was a significant amount of crossover, meaning I had adopted many criticisms toward myself that weren't truly mine. Perhaps they were suggested, implied, or explicitly stated by others, it didn't matter. I accepted them as truth. I took responsibility for them. I held myself up to those expectations and when I fell short, beat myself into a proverbial pulp. My third grade teacher who spent a significant amount of time instructing us on the difference between fact and opinion would have been sad to see the lesson hadn't stuck with me.
The longer I pondered this jumbled point of view the more the two concepts started to separate. I realized, for the most part, I am not disappointed in myself. I am severely disenchanted my life became about illness and survival instead of a career and babies, but that's not something I chose. In fact, I think I'm doing pretty darn good, all things considered. So why have I spent the last few years feeling like such a loser I can barely get out of bed? Because I allowed the expectations of other people to become mine! Each snide comment or subtle put down sent me into an epic tailspin. I was already falling so short of my own hopes and dreams I suppose I just added every passing mumble of judgment to the great heap on my back until I finally buckled under the weight of my endlessly horrendous shortcomings.
There is freedom in knowledge and awareness, and truth. I am becoming comfortable with being a disappointment to other people. It's their opinion and they are the only ones who can change it, not me. Personal experience has shown me the harder I try the shorter I fall. The more I accept unsavory opinions about myself as fact the weaker I become. Oddly enough the more respect I show others, by allowing them to take full responsibility for their opinions and expectations, the stronger I become. The anger pinging around inside me lessens. Hope blossoms and I become enraptured in the purpose of my life. No longer will I define myself as others see me. I have a life to live, an illness to manage and wonderful things to contribute to the world. I've experienced too much suffering to continue in this destructive cycle of blame and defeat. So with a lightness in my soul I haven't known in ages I can only say I am happy to not be a disappointment to me, the only opinion I can actually change.
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