When you grow up in a family that has been abusive and emotionally stunted for generations, becoming emotionally healthy is like scaling a solid cement wall with no rope. In flip flops. Every time you think you have made progress, you fall down the wall again and have to start all over. And yet I am determined, with every fiber of my being, to make it up that wall. I don't know if I'll ever "arrive" at perfect healthiness and happiness (probably not), but I'm damn well going to try.
I haven't been around Groupthink too much lately, and that's basically because I keep falling down that cement wall. GreenHunk and I have fought until we both are so tired of fighting that lately we just look at each other sadly and say, "I don't want to fight anymore." And on top of that, yesterday I lost the person I considered my closest (platonic) friend. Strangely, though, all of the falling has made me more determined than ever to keep on trying, and I think I've reached a point where I know for a fact I'm going to keep going no matter what. So this morning I decided to think about the things I've learned from all that falling, the things that are going to propel me toward health. And this is what I came up with.
1. Fighting is not the end of everything. Let go of the fear of it. If the people you are fighting with are meant to be in your life, you're not going to lose them over a fight. Sometimes space is a good thing – it doesn't have to signify a terrifying end.
2. Healthy people attract other healthy people. Stop worrying about loneliness and work on yourself and the problem will fix itself, little by little.
3. Don't place expectations on relationships, including friendships. Every person is different, and it's best to just accept that your relationships with others will each be different.
4. Sometimes the only way to move on from something is to make the decision that you are going to move on, and then refuse to give up or look back or dwell on the past. Sometimes it just has to be in the mind, and the emotions will follow.
5. Complaining is a waste of time, and alienating to others if done frequently. Keep it to a minimum.
6. But at the same time, allow yourself to feel whatever you feel in the moment. Don't suppress your emotions, and don't feel guilty for having them. Emotions are normal.
7. The things you hate in others are probably present in yourself. Be willing to be brutally honest with yourself about your own actions and reactions and why you act in those ways, and try to listen when others criticize you. Don't take it all to heart, but don't immediately discount it. Get second and third opinions. If there's any truth at all in the criticism, forgive yourself for it and then try to change it.
8. Combat your addiction to being unhappy. If you're used to being constantly sad and fighting a lot, you're going to subconsciously be looking for reasons to be sad and to fight. Consciously try the opposite. Consciously let go of something that could turn into a fight. Consciously choose to see the good in something that could make you unhappy.
9. Life is really all about balance. Logic and emotion, letting yourself feel sad but also not wallowing in it, empathy and self-preservation, self-criticism and self appreciation, relaxation and motivation. We all need all of these things to be happy and successful.
10. Don't be afraid of the truth. If you stop being afraid of it, it can't hurt you anymore – it can only make you stronger and more balanced.
What have you learned from the hard things in your life?
ETA: GreenHunk and I did NOT break up! Some people misread what I said as that, but we're doing much better now and have grown a lot together. I did, however, lose my closest female friend.