One of my friends shared this picture with me of a field in Mexico where Americans send their old tires to die. It’s a gruesome photograph and it brought to mind all kinds of feelings and thoughts about the amount of old tires we all store up in a field somewhere in our hearts. Like this field of tires, your own collection carries with it toxic pollution and danger.
I have been having this back and forth dialogue with a new friend these past 2 weeks about issues we both have struggled to understand. Our dialogue has taken place over email. Both of us have found it’s easier and clearer to converse this way. We’re able to write down thoughts, save them, go back to them, edit them and finally hit Send. Neither of us work in any kind of counseling field, however this method of exploration has had some healthy and eye opening revelations. We’re working through our own tire fields and we’re actually doing some recycling.
In the beginning she told me a past memory about something that hurt her very much. My response to her was suggesting ways she could overcome her remorse and then I told her a past memory of something similar that had happened to me. We went back and forth like this for a few days.
Her memories always related in some way to what I had told her about and vice versa. I came away from this exchange with a new understanding of where I could make positive changes in my world. I don’t know if she reaped the same benefit, but I’m sure she reaped something good from the conversation because we both expressed a kind of serenity in having shared.
I am not always right. I don’t always do exactly what I should do. I like for things to go along smoothly and for everyone to be treated fairly, but when this doesn’t happen, I am the first person to voice my unhappiness and ask for change. Perhaps I should start being the last person to do this? If past experience is nothing else, it can be a good teacher.The squeaky wheel does not always get the grease. Sometimes it gets replaced and then it’s laid out in some Mexican desert to rot.
Someone told me today that I am not responsible for how someone else feels. Now I am grown up enough to know this. But do I always believe this is true? No, I don’t. Have I ever benefited from trying to make someone feel less insecure, more loved, and less needy when they tell me that I’ve done something to displease them? No, I really haven’t. I might *feel* like I have, but in reality all I’ve done is give this person the ways and means to continue laying on the guilt anytime they want to get my attention or have their way. I’ve given them permission to have control over me.
There is a difference here between being displeased and being totally shit on. I want to make that clear before you run off thinking you can do whatever you wish without ever paying for the consequences. An example of being displeased is finding out you weren’t invited to a friend’s party. Being shit on is finding out your wife screwed your best friend. There is a large chasm between those two examples. If you want to whine about not getting to come to the party, don’t think this gives you a ticket to ride very far on the guilt train. You should get off at the first stop and be done with it.
Every Guilt Train has a final destination.
There are things I’ve done that I felt strongly about when they were happening. I felt right and good standing up for what I believed in, so I stood my ground. It has turned out to be a complete waste of time. Just because I believe in something, it doesn’t give me the right to demand everyone else believe in it too. In fact, you have to admit complete defeat when what you find out that what you believed in and stood your ground for doesn’t believe in you at all.
Over the years I have granted some not-so-stellar-people all kinds of permissions. I have allowed them to have backstage, all access passes and metaphorically they have come in, eaten my buffet, dirtied my floor, broken my belongings, used my bank cards, borrowed my clothes and stomped all over whatever I had available. Now who is to blame for this? No one, but me. They might be the shits, but I own the asshole.
Today has been one of growth.
Taking those small steps will make you realize what the world out there is really like. Promise yourself that you will not be disillusioned or bitter. Keep your expectations low, but keep them positive. You can still have a voice, but it could be a quiet one from now on. You can work with the same fervor, but do it in the background. I think you can accomplish more and have an even better quality of life if you take this new path, rather than staying on the crowded interstate.
I think I will continue to share words with my friend. We will recycle one tire at a time and who knows…perhaps one day we will have enough room to build a park, or a factory for making flip flops. Now that’s something to look forward to.