I once was a nauseatingly bubbly, outgoing, optimistic, like and help everyone type of person. I thought I was beautiful, generous, kind, humorous, honest and intelligent. It turned out that I was delusional about myself and criminally naive about other people and the world.
Somewhere in my fifties, I flipped.
I began to realize: that I was often a difficult person for those closest to me, that I was intelligent about theories, but had zero common sense, and that no one is so intelligent that they are right all the time. I found that rescuing people often reinforced their lifelong behavior of making poor choices. I began to notice that my humor usually had a victim. I sadly faced that I was a bottomless pit of needs and wants in my relationship with my husband and that my neediness stunted my ability to love. And I finally admitted that our American ideal of beauty has an expiration date and I was past it.
But other than these, I was an Okay person, because I wasn’t finished yet. 🙂
In the ensuing twenty plus years I have moved toward the middle by accepting being a reasonably tidy looking person, having a sense of humor about getting old and being human, being not only a person who has some valuable flashes of insight, but one who can be practical (at least when it’s absolutely necessary), someone capable of understanding, loving and actually making sacrifices for the people that I find myself unable to like because of totally disagreeing with them. I’m still into helping others – but I have admitted that I can’t save them and that helping others has the perk of making me feel better about myself. I am finally accepting the reality that though most people need a helping hand sometimes, it’s often important to allow others the chance to learn from suffering the consequences of their chronic bad choices. I have quit emotional garbage dumping on my husband and love him enough to now test the dubious leftovers in the fridge on myself, instead of him. And an almost fair amount of the time I do the necessary boring stuff I hate, though sometimes I just say “to hell with it” and stay up all night reading a spy novel and sleep all morning. While, I don’t idealize myself anymore, I both accept and value myself as the imperfect, sometimes downright weird, unfinished human being that I am, while still working to stay open to the challenge of changing when the need becomes obvious.
When my husband and I are watching the news together and it triggers one of those downward spirals of starting to focus on all the terrible people and things in the world, now one or the other of us will bring it to a halt by saying loudly and very irately, “It’s a terrible world, filled with terrible people!” and then we will laugh at ourselves and even at our pitifully flawed unfinished world.
Life is not about perfection. It’s about the life long challenge to develop paradoxical, but reasonable and practical balances between polarities.
But most of all, life is about persevering.