When you set out to cause suffering in another, you double your own and invite more of it. You cannot escape the suffering you put on others until you give up the practice of causing it, and give up your addiction to that savage, satiating feeling you think fixes you when you cause it.
This manufacturing of suffering is a vicious cycle for all involved. Life brings suffering at times on its own, this is a fact. But the manufacturing of it is something else. It’s abuse, for one thing, and manipulation. But more than that, it’s a whole cycle. The one inflicting the suffering circumstances (manipulator, abuser) is already suffering. What a horrid way to go through life — perpetrating hurt and pain on others. I’ve heard victims say that they don’t understand how the abuser lives such a good life, or gets away with their behavior. I can see how it appears that way, but I think this is mostly false.
Once the cycle starts, the target will find ways to avoid the circumstances and abusers will double-down on their victims, but the suffering continues to return to the manipulator and multiplies by a factor of their own and the person/s they’re hurting. One’s own suffering can’t actually be cured or satiated by inflicting more suffering. And if you’re the abuser, frankly, you give up your right to be angry at the change in people caused by your endless refusal or inability to be decent, or their willingness to go to great lengths to stay out of your line of fire. That’s part of the price you pay. So… more suffering.
You can’t get to a better present or a new future without acknowledging the past, and you can’t apologize your way out of bad behavior without reform. Acknowledge Action Commitment Integrity
Relationships, reparations, business, neighbors… all of it is really about relationships, is it not?
Most of us say we want a better or brighter future, but fail to do anything different. We sit here and wait on someone else to change it so we can step into it and say, “Look at me in this new thing!” Then we pat ourselves on the back and wonder why we get stuck again.
We hurt each other, and sometimes we take a corrective course, but fail at acknowledging what happened. Can you imagine bringing your car home from the shop with only three wheels? The shop fixed everything else, but the front passenger tire was removed because it was flat. Well, you don’t have the flat tire anymore, right? Have you ever had your shoes polished? They look so great afterwards – all clean and shiny. But what if you got them back with a heel missing? Yes, it’s like that when you forget the acknowledgement. Your shoes look great, but the function is just off, and no one notices how shiny they are, just that your heel is missing and you’re walking weird. Then to add to the ridiculousness of it all, you’re trying your darnedest to ignore what’s wrong with the shoes and keep talking about how clean and shiny they are.
Relationships are like that. Corrective action doesn’t mean a whole lot without conversation about the problem and a meaningful apology, and especially if it has been an ongoing issue. The other person likely sees what you’ve corrected, but is now standing by for you to resume your previous behaviors. Why? Because there was no conversation or apology, and the recipient/s of your bad behavior are likely operating in protective mode. That is the foundation, the frame, that you created by skipping over key steps and actions. You’re just driving around with your person or people, bumping along without that tire and wondering why the ride is so rough. Your passenger/s know… but you’re still pretending you’re in a new vehicle.
Our country, our government, our systems have this same issue. We have whole systems put into place that were born out of racism, classism, sexism, etc. The sentiments of our time may not be the same as they were then (we say), but the systems are still in place bringing with them into our present and our future the spirit, the energy, and the isms that put them there in the first place. That’s us gimping along in our polished shoes with the heel missing. We keep saying we’re fixing things, making them better, but we’re failing to recognize or acknowledge what got us here in the first place. We can keep shining those shoes, but until we go back and look at what’s missing, acknowledge that it’s broken, we are not going to fix it. Fixing it doesn’t mean that everyone gets to have shoes with broken heels, or cars with only three tires so that no one notices what’s wrong.
I think this is why we don’t like to discuss reparations for Black folks. This means we have to take accountability for the brokenness that we caused. This means we have to acknowledge that everything isn’t fair and equal now just because we marched and made new laws. This would mean we would have to acknowledge that we have a whole group of people that are severely affected still because 1. the life we forced them into was an unspeakable horror to begin with; 2. we are pretending that we made it right with laws; 3. we refuse to look at the space we created and the foundation we keep polishing (original systems); 4. we think we apologized long ago; 5. we think they should be happy with shiny broken shoes.
You can always make a difference, but pretending and turning away will keep you stuck. If you’re stuck, you’re likely holding other people down with you or trying to keep them there with you. Don’t turn over a new leaf, plant a whole new garden.
Acknowledge what went wrong.
Take corrective action.
Make a commitment to do better or cease the hurtful behavior.
Stay in integrity; keep your word because you are a keeper of your word.
Or: Now that I Know So Much I Know How Much I Don’t Know
Or: I’m Highly Qualified to Know this Stuff; I’m Over 50!
Now that I am past the halfway point of my fifties (LORDY!), I feel mature enough and qualified enough to speak on these things. Here is what makes our fifties so interesting to me and other stuff I’ve figured out:
Feeling instantaneously compelled to take layers of clothing off due to a sudden rise in internal body temperature.
Feeling instantaneously compelled to put layers of clothing back on due to a sudden return of normal internal body temperature.
Feeling homicidal about anyone who thinks they are going to change the thermostat.
Feeling justified about feeling homicidal towards the thermostat hijacker.
When I say that I don’t care what people think, I mean it literally, not like when I said it when I was in my thirties as a spite.
Watching the evolutionary process of being an older parent with adult children as if I am some kind of an outsider to it.
Realizing on so many occasions that my children are just plain smarter than me, and possibly than I ever was at their ages.
Having friends that I have known for half a century or more.
No longer feeling guilt or compelled to hold on to family members that are chaotic, unkind, and disruptive just because they are family, and having the certainty that it is the healthy thing to do.
Not being sure how to do something, then figuring it out, then forgetting how I did it for the next time, and just not caring that I forgot and I now have to ask one of the kids and we’re going to laugh about it – even though it’s likely they’re laughing at me.
Yeah, I know some of these are run-on and incomplete sentences. And guess what… I don’t care about that either!
The thought I had when my grandkids were born that I should have just skipped the kids and gone to the fun part of being a grandparent, except now I know that I wouldn’t be the kind of Gram I am without raising those fabulous parents first.
The realization that if someone doesn’t value me, then they either aren’t paying attention or they are missing something in themselves.
Though my fifty-something body may not be in the strong shape my twenty-something body was, my mind and heart are stronger than ever in my resolve to be a co-creator of a world that works for everyone.
Wasting time looks different to different people.
Slow the f#€k down.
You have to look at the stars, and the sunrises, and the sunsets whenever possible. You may not get another one.
Barefoot is good — unless you are going to put them on the dashboard or window of the car. That’s just gross. Walking barefoot on the Earth is grounding. Besides being gross, the other one will get your knees shoved through your face if you get into an accident.
Take care of your feet. Wash them, for God’s sake. Don’t let your nails get gross and your feet get crusty. It’s not just gross, it’s unhealthy.
Don’t be the reason the person you live with feels lonely.
It’s easy to take the people that care about us and/or we care about for granted, but it’s not okay.
Be fearless. Say yes to things that scare you or have you stopped.
Get tattoos if you like them, no matter what your dad might say.
It really doesn’t matter if someone’s pants sag. What matters is when you think you are better because yours don’t.
If you can look the other way when someone is cheating or being deceitful, you are an accomplice.
Don’t let past regrets stop you. You have them because you are supposed to do better next time. That is the lesson from regrets.
I don’t for a second believe that everything happens for a reason.
I do 100% believe that there is a lesson to be found in everything.
When someone is talking to you, acknowledge them, and act like what they are saying is of the utmost importance. They are giving themselves to you.
As a parent, tell your kids when you could have done better with them, even if it is decades later.
I think most often most people do the very best they can. But don’t let that be an excuse to keep a terrible person around or excuse their poor behavior and choices. Sometimes someone’s very best may still not be a good fit for you.
Don’t think for one minute that you always know more than your children. At any age, child or grown, we should be learning from them.
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you have to keep them around. It can; but it’s possible it can also mean “thank you for showing me who you are and where you belong.”
It is the job of our youth to challenge our ideals. Each generation co-creates the world for the next generation. We fall short only because we don’t realize in the moment that it is all going to change, and that is the way of things. If you are ridiculing their ideas, that says a whole lot about you and nothing about them. Remember, we raised them and we brought them up in a world whose systems were created before us and also by us. And what did we do?
We do see the color of people’s skin. Color blindness is only a real thing when you’re talking about the genetic disorders. Claiming color blindness when talking about another person is not actually honoring the person of color as you might think. It is actually dismissing a part of them that is worthy of being seen. It is dismissive and indicates you are not willing to dive past the surface to be not only inclusive of our differences, but it assumes that assimilation is key to equality. It is not. What you are actually blind to is your own privilege that you walk around in without seeing that either. You may think that by ignoring the color of another’s skin that you are making a dent in racism. You are doing the exact opposite.
People of color are not here to do all the educating for you on inclusion and what it’s like to be a person of color.
When someone tells you their experience and it’s different from yours, they are still right.
Teach your kids to read books, not screens.
I am never bored. EVER.
When someone mistreats you; that is who they are. There’s no reason under the sun to let them continue.
When someone tells you something about yourself that’s hard to hear, HEAR it, and move forward accordingly.
Don’t let someone talk you out of your dreams or convince you that you’re not worthy of them — big or small.
It’s okay to be mad. In fact, sometimes we should be mad.
It’s not okay to hurt someone because you’re mad.
Therapy. Do it.
You don’t have to do things like your parents.
Do NOT live vicariously through your children. You will be in their way.
Children are not tiny adults, and you are a parent first and always; then sometimes you can be their friend, too. When they are grown then you can be friends, and before you know it they will slowly take over, and they may need to. It’s that middle part that’s the sweet stuff, and if you cultivate it, they won’t mind having to take over at some point, and you will trust them to.
Don’t let anyone interfere between you and your children. That should remain an indivisible bond.
We all need quiet time.
Your kids do NOT need to be busy all the time.
Alone is not lonely.
Suspicion breeds suspicion.
Trust. Don’t screw it up.
Cuss if you want to.
Go out of your way to get to know people that don’t look like you or sound like you. You’ll NEVER be sorry.