How do you react when the truth hurts?
This past week I found myself in a unique situation that quite frankly I could not have handled five years ago. I happened to be at my church preparing for the fellowship meal for my Wednesday night Bible study group (it was my turn to cook) when another church member showed up a little early with her daughter. Not feeling very well that day I was tired, stressed and would have really been happier to stay at home, but since I had the food I was there. When she asked me how I was I couldn’t make myself fib and spout out the regular “I’m fine, how are you?” You see, I wasn’t fine and I wasn’t going to lie about it. I shared with my friend that I was tired, not feeling well and really needed a break. I was honest. We chatted a while about the stresses of life and all that being the wife, mother, teacher, friend, etc. and how tough it sometimes is. I shared with her that somehow I thought being the parent of older children would be less worrisome, but that I actually find myself worrying more about my older children than I ever did before. That escalated worry could quite possibly be because I do not have complete control over my children anymore; they don’t need me as much as they did before.
As our conversation flowed from various subjects, including the ups and downs of family dynamics and life in general, my friend shared with me that she didn’t like me too much five years ago; “you weren’t too much fun to be around” she said. Ouch! That hurt…a lot. She went on to say that she knew I had worked hard to be a better person and that she was proud of me. Swallowing my pride I had to admit that she was right and that five years ago my life was not so much fun. On the outside it appeared that I had it all together. I had an awesome husband, two pretty terrific kids, a great job, great friends, big house; you know the great American dream. That was so not the case. It took me nearly crashing and burning to realize that none of that mattered if I didn’t straighten up and get my act together. I was full of negativity, hurtfulness and as tough as it is to admit, not so nice all of the time. The truth hurts; but the truth will also set you free.
In the past five years I have been able to identify certain behaviors and what causes them (the triggers). I spent several years in a recovery class learning how to put myself in a time-out, if you will, to de-stress, re-group and move on through difficult situations without lashing out and being mean to those around me. Being the less than perfect human that I am, I still catch myself snapping at someone or allowing myself to get angry and frustrated once in a while. And that’s okay; I am a constant work in progress. Throughout the past five years of figuring out who I really am and what I want to do with the second half of my life I have come to realize that life is much sweeter when you let go of the negative and focus on the positive.
Although the truth hurt when my friend shared her feelings, it was something I needed to hear. The other truth she told was that she was glad she stuck around because she enjoys being around me now and is glad we are friends and have become closer recently. Turning my life around was not easy and still isn’t, but making better choices, improving my own outlook and being a better friend is my main goal now.
If you find yourself in a similar situation as I did try to figure out what it is that is triggering your anger, anxiety, and negativity toward others. Making a conscious effort to start each day with a determination to be positive will allow you to create a happier life not only for yourself but for those around you. Life is filled with difficulties, surprises, ups and downs; it’s how we deal with it makes all the difference. For me, I am thankful that my friend cares enough to tell me how she felt and that she is still around. Famed Irish poet, philosopher and Catholic scholar once wrote “Negativity is an addiction to the bleak shadow that lingers around every human form … you can transfigure negativity by turning it toward the light of your soul.” Pushing through the tough stuff is difficult but much like the rainbow after the rain life is beautiful on the other side of the storm.
I think we all need a touch point a place we can go to be inspired. Karla is my children’s teacher, a good friend, and a person with a heart of gold. I hope that her words will inspire you to do more. We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. It is important to listen with your heart and proceed with your eyes open. Enjoy!