Yesterday, I wrote about some positive things that came out of visiting my hometown over the weekend. Today I would like to focus on the challenging things as part of processing the trip.
I was much more aware than I usually am of the negative energy of most of the people I visited with. For example, when I visited with family (my father’s side, not momster’s), I was overwhelmed by the constant flow of negativity. Every conversation was about how terrible and hard life is. Yes, I am painfully aware of how difficult life can be, but I also choose not to dwell on the negative stuff 24/7.
When I am visiting with someone that I only see every few years, I ask about how they have been and talk about the good stuff in my life. I reserve the venting for my close girlfriends as I need to process the hard things. When I choose to focus on negativity, I try to have a beginning, middle, and end to the process, not experience negativity as a state of being. I used to be negative constantly, and that was a miserable way to live. No, I am not perfect, nor am I saying that these people don’t have a legitimate reason to be unhappy. My point is that I don’t want to spend the majority of my time complaining about how miserable I am, and it is hard for me to spend time with people who live their lives miserable as a state of being.
I do give these people credit for being authentic, though – they are authentically miserable. There were others I visited with whose energy did not match who they presented themselves as being. A huge part of the direction of my growth is being authentically me. If there is not room in a friendship for me to be myself, then I don’t need the friendship. I might not always be pleasant, but I am (or really strive to be) always me. I need and expect the same from the other person.
The energy of people who are pretending to be something that they are not is actually harder for me to process. The inauthenticity messes with me and is so much harder for me to be around – the dichotomy is draining. What is also difficult (and is an issue whenever I get together with people who “knew me then”) is when others say and do the same things they always said and did, but it’s like it is toward a stranger because that person is not me any longer. The dynamic no longer works because I am no longer that person.
These are the people who were in my life as an emotionally shattered teenager. Being around them was my comfort zone. Now, I am so thankful that there are hundreds of miles between that life and me. I don’t mean this in a judgmental way, nor do I mean that I don’t care about these people. It’s just too draining for me to live like that. I found it interesting that it was the people, not the place (where the child abuse happened), that was so challenging for me on this trip. This doesn’t mean I don’t love and care about them — it just means that I no longer fit in there.
Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt