Oh, to understand the purpose of some of the trappings of this life. This entire year, thus far, has been a whirlwind of chaotic interruptions to what I only want to become a peaceful existence. One thing I have begun to realize, through all of the disaster-overthrown days that seem to be plaguing me is this cliche’-type platitude that is suddenly making the sense of an unexpected epiphany: You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people, some of the time, some of the people all of the time BUT you cannot please all of the people all of the time. Right now, I want to be pleased with me, whether everyone else is or not.
I have always been a “people pleaser”. When I was married, I didn’t like to make waves. I wanted peace, even if that peace was at my expense all of the time. If it meant that, in order to keep harmony, I had to ignore things that hurt me and pretend I was happy, that is exactly what I did. I didn’t want my children to live through unhappiness and strife. I didn’t want them to have to survive a divorce. I didn’t want to have to survive a divorce. I kept the peace by backing down. One day, I learned that my kids were surviving a terrible marriage and that two peaceful homes, albeit separate, rather than one home with quiet tension that could be cut with a cheese knife might be less stressful for them.
As I went through my divorce, I wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible so that the kids didn’t have to deal with the fighting. I didn’t want to fight. I hate confrontation. So I did not fight. I gave into everything except the custody of my children and he could have anything else in the world that he wanted. That included the fact that he pays no child support at all. I decided that I can raise my children myself and that one day they’ll know I worked hard to be able to provide for them. I know there are those of you who will feel like this was the cowardly thing to do and that I should have fought FOR my children by making him pay (monetarily and for everything I had been through in my marriage). I still believe, knowing the way that he speaks around my children and the way he likes their sympathy, that the kids would have suffered more if he had to suffer more. He’s happy, they’re happy and I am capable of being what they need, even if it doesn’t mean that we’re rich or affluent. I still do not regret that decision because I truly feel that they would have been “punished” for my pushing these issues, no matter how much I tried to shield them from verbal and emotional harm. I know this because that was the basis of my entire marriage.
Today, I am realizing that I no longer want to please everyone. I mean, don’t get me wrong…it does bother me when people don’t like me. That being said, I have learned to look at WHY they don’t like me and ask myself “Is that something that I am willing to change about myself? Do I like that part of who I am or is that a fault I need to work on?” When my answer is that I am perfectly happy with whatever behavior or attitude or verbal exchange that seems to have made the person in question unhappy with me, I can say…”This is who I am and I’m content with that. What they don’t like is their problem; it is not mine.” This is not something that I have ever found myself able to do before. It actually surprises me to have this thought process. What surprises me even more is that being able to do this is not out of bitterness. I don’t have an attitude that says “Whatever. I’m sick of trying to please people. Screw ’em.” Rather, I have a disposition that says “I am going to learn to be happy with who I am. If I am proud of who I am and how I react to circumstances, I am going to be happy with me and others, if they are worthy of my time, will be happy with me as well.” Do you know why this is so? Because there are people who will be jealous or have different opinions or will have been raised differently with converse morals to those in which I was raised. Those people may not agree with me all of the time. They may not even like me. I am okay with that. I am going to strive to be happy with me.
Now, I still regularly make mistakes with which I am NOT happy. I react too quickly to a stressful situation, with my children, for example, and allow anger to overcome good judgement. With my current outlook, however, I find myself quickly assessing my behavior and, when I decide I do not like my own response to the situation, I am able to expediently stop, take a deep breath, and then readdress with a more calm and worthy approach. Being able to redirect appropriately may mean walking away from the scene, rethinking my plan of action for a few minutes before returning and THEN starting over, but I am able to find the person I meant to be in the first place and the one I hope I am the next time something similar occurs. I am also quick to apologize to my children or others involved and let them know that I am not pleased with how I handled the event as well as that I will attempt to learn from it.
Okay, so, in deciding not to please everyone (some of them not even some of the time), I am seriously analyzing who it is that I want to be and how I want others to see me. When I say that latter piece, I actually do not mean that I want them to see me as someone they like. I mean that I am trying to be objective about how I appear on the outside (not physically but just as a human being, in general) and whether I’m happy with that. When someone else looks at me, am I able to be “proud” of the person that they see (whether they like what they see or not…this may be sounding confusing…)? What kind of legacy am I leaving, if you will. I am someone who loves her children with every fiber of her being. However, when I’m in the grocery store and they are all three grating on my nerves, for whatever reason or whichever antics they are displaying, I am likely to address them by saying “HEY! I’M GONNA BEAT YOU IF YOU DON’T STOP ACTING LIKE A BUNCH OF HOOLIGANS! CHILL OUT!!!” Now, some people may hear that and (self-righteously) think, “Man, she’s a mean mom.” or “Oh, my! Listen to how she just yelled at those poor little dears.” Anyone who actually has children, loves them and occasionally loses it (I believe that’s most of us.) will hear it, perhaps giggle, think to themselves, “Yep, been there, done that. She’s having a rough day.” and maybe even think “Way to get them back in line, lady.” If they DON’T feel that way, I still know this: my children know they are not going to actually be beaten, they know that this means I am nearing the end of my rope with them, however, and they also know, based on all of my OTHER motherhood behavior which strangers or friends may not always see, that I LOVE THEM and would do ANYTHING for them. They know I have sat up all night for weeks at a time by a hospital bed, never leaving except to pee, as one or another of them was sick. They know that I have hostessed slumber parties with a houseful of ten children and made pounds of pancakes, created and played tons of games, allowed silly messes just because it was fun and found ways to make sure every kid had a good time. They know I have let them sleep in my bed and have picked them up in the middle of the night from someone else’s house, even after I had been asleep, because they were afraid or upset and wanted to come home. My children know the sacrifices I make for them and the things that I do just because I love them more than my own life, itself. If they know this, why on earth would I care what anyone else thinks about this?
At work, I am good at what I do. Occasionally someone does not like the way I handle a situation because it is not the way THEY would maneuver given the same occurrence. I think about how I dealt with it, whether there is a reason that it is not the “right” way to go about it or if a difference of opinion is the real problem. I am using that methodology to decide how to go on from there. Most of the time I am happy with the way perform my career objectives and have no desire to worry another minute about what that other person’s “problem is”. LOL. I am happy just feeling like I am doing the right thing.
Are you at this point yet? People have told me before to worry about me, be happy with who I am and let others worry about whether they’re happy or not. I am responsible only for my happiness and not that of anyone else (except my children, of course). Until I reached this latest, slow-dawning epiphany, however, I was not ready to understand what I had been advised. If you’re not here, you will be saying “easier said than done…you’re not like me”, in your head. I’m here to tell you that, be it age or wisdom, you will get here one day. If you are here, you understand what I am saying. Pipe up and let me know where you are in your own journey.