I’d never realized what a powerful thing it was to take control of your own emotions and reactions to things. What’s the quote? “Life is what you do with what’s been done to you.”
You can’t go back and change how things went. You can’t change people. You can’t change the past. What you *can* change – right now, this minute – is how you react to those things. How much or how little you allow them to eat you up, consume your life.
It’s hard. It’s fucking unfair, especially when you feel you were in the right, or you were the one abused, or you were the one treated unfairly or fucked over.
Yes, you were.
Now what are you going to do about it?
Because I can’t change other people. I can’t change their reactions to me. I can’t be more loveable. I can’t be more than me. All I can be is the best I can be. The only thing I’m in charge of is my own reactions.
Life is what you do with what’s been done to you.
There’s this bitter, cynical guy at work who comes in every day and every day there’s some new way that he’s been screwed over, that life is unfair, that his life is crap, that it’s not going his way.
In fact, he’s pretty successful, I think. He has a spitfire wife he seems to get along with quite well, two absolutely gorgeous children, a great opportunity with this young company, great health insurance, tons of friends around here and back on the east coast where he’s from. He owns his own house. They have two cars. I’d bet they have an IRA, too. They’re in a good place. His life is in a good place.
But that’s not how he chooses to take it. He comes in and everything is hell, everything is bad, everything is doom and gloom. It’s waiting for the other shoe to drop.
And you know, though I have some fear and trepadation about losing everything in the back of my mind, I don’t live that reality. I don’t have nightmares all night about losing everything (OK, not usually!). Sure, sometimes I’m afraid I’ll lose things, but what drives me is hope. Hope that I’m building toward something more. Striving to be better. Hope and faith.
I’ve done some terrible things to people the last couple of years, and I’ve had crappy things happen to me, but you know what? Shit happens. You can hate somebody for breaking your heart and scream at them to fix it, or you can fix your own damn heart. You can patch it up yourself. No one’s going to do it for you. You can choose to figure out how to live the life you want – chronic illness and all – or you can lie in bed all day screaming at the unfairness of the universe and sit around feeling sorry for yourself. You can bitch and moan about losing your job and being stuck in Dayton or you can thank your incredible friends for giving you the opportunity to start over in a new town.
You can drive yourself with hate and fear and a deep sense of persecution by God or the Universe or whatever. Or you can say, “OK, this is what I’ve been dealt. Now what the fuck can I do with it?”
I think the thing that pisses me off about it is that it tends to “absolve” others (or the Universe, or whatever), for their actions. It’s like saying, “So what, you were mugged in the street, get over it!” But what’s the alternative? Sitting around waiting for the mugger to apologize and give your money back or watching him strung up for theft?
In this scenerio, whose actions/reactions do you have control over?
You’re damn right I want the assholes to get their just desserts, but when I’m sitting around waiting for that day, on those nights when I’m not out campaigning to get them incarcerated or trying to change gun laws or whatever, what am I doing to take care of myself? How am I looking out for my own emotions? Cause nobody else is, especially not the person or external force that hurt you.
One of the things I hate the most is being dependent on other people. I hate having my well-being so dependent on the actions of someone else.
There’s something incredibly freeing when you stop yourself, when you clutch at all the hurt and pain and say, “This isn’t about that crazy fucked up person who hurt you/fucked up thing that happened to you. This is about how you choose to handle it.”
Some people do things to you that are hurtful because they’re wacky or crazy or completely fucked in the head. And that’s something they have to deal with. What can you do about that? Just run after them, screaming?
So I work hard to let it go. I remind myself that all the stuff that changes is going to change within me, not inside of someone else. I can’t change other people. I can’t change situations. I can’t change screwed up genetics.
But I can change how I deal with it.
I can take control of it now, this moment.
And that’s how I live my life.
That’s how I keep going.
That’s how I succeed even in the face of catastrophic failure.
Fall down seven times. Get up eight.