The new year is mere days away. What will 2018 hold for you? I can tell you what it will not hold for me--the past. To some degree, the past is always with us, informing our context for the major (and minor) decisions we make in our lives. But, we sometimes keep the past in our present, too. It's where we live, even if we don't always see it.
I'm no different than anyone else. When a trauma occurs, it sticks with me. Usually, for years. That's pretty much how human psychology works. Some are just better at lying and/or pretending everything is fine when it's anything but. As we wrap up the "joys" of the holiday season and welcome 2018, it is a great time to mentally leave the past behind. You learn from the interactions recorded in your past; it's invaluable to your future survival. But it can hold us back. Keep us stuck. Mired in a swamp of our own creation.
It is frightening to let go of the familiar and face the unknown 2018 will bring without the comfort of our safety-net--or, our past. Our identities are built around our past--who we are, where we have been--so it's difficult to separate the self from what defines it. That's the crux of the issue right there--our pasts are not who we are. Nor does the past determine where we can (or, will) go in the future. The past is simply context or background. We are who we have always been. Past experience may make a person more open or closed, but ultimately, you are who you were your entire life. My lived experience has deepened my compassion, helped me to put fear aside and take responsibility for who I am and what I want. But, my basic temperament has not changed for as long as I can remember my own thoughts. As a writer, it's easier for me to see that. My diction may change. Hopefully, my grammar improves. But those are minor things. My content--the stuff that really matters--is eerily similar today to what I was writing seven or eight years ago. Even ten years ago. And, long before that as well....
For the record, let me just say that no one from my past is ever the focus of my work. I write creative nonfiction. It centers on not just me, but the world around me. That can sometimes be confusing to anyone who wants to see themselves in my essays. Good writing is relatable writing. My words resonate with lots of people, but most understand that just because a piece is relatable, it does not also mean it's related to a given individual.
We all have experiences with toxic or abusive types in our lives. If you're kind and compassionate, you have had more than those who aren't. That's why the moment a person betrays my trust, I'm done. It took me a long time to learn that lesson. "Done" doesn't mean I stop feeling the pain of betrayal or the grief from loss; it just means the person who caused both is barred from taking an active role in my life.
People who create problems can NEVER be the solution. Though I often write about second chances in love, those opportunities only exist between two mature, responsible adults who continue to love, respect and care for each other in the physical world, even after the initial relationship has ended. I'm talking about real love, real care--like making sure the person you supposedly loved is still alive and stays that way.
I am in no way accountable for the irresponsible, short-sighted behavior of others. None of us are. So, why should anyone feel the need to apologize for defending your own well-being? For me, the reasons are (mostly) related to gender. I'm a woman and men expect me to give and give and give, and let them take and take and take. If you're not in my life--man or woman--it is because you acted in a way that was ruthless, cruel and deceitful. I cannot afford to care about people who willfully put me in any position that compromises my home, my safety, my health, and/or my well-being. No one can. To expect me to do something no other human can do is perhaps a clue you have lost your perspective.
Life is too short to waste time on (or with) those who have proven a consistent inability to show genuine love and care. That's the theme for my upcoming 2018 writings...leaving the past where it belongs so you can stop the self-sabotage and move on to the big, bright, beautiful future 2018 promises.
Part of how any of us move forward is by reflecting on our own lives. Look at who has really helped you move your life ahead. Be honest about it when you do. If the people you are currently with are not on that list, you need to find a new tribe. And, please be mindful that anyone who offers real-life financial support, love and care is a very RARE person indeed--that's not the kind of person you replace. It's the kind of person you need to move forward.
I strongly encourage everyone reading this to live your best life in 2018. To stop letting your past dictate your future. I am on the same journey, if not the same path. I have allowed a situation from two-and-a-half years ago to a/effect certain decisions that subsequently hurt my life. No more. The remaining consequences connected to what can only be described as a nightmare will be addressed (and eliminated) in 2018. I have already removed most of the related negatives from my world--including negative people. But, it hasn't been easy. To make it easier for each of you, dear readers, here are five truths that I learned in the last 25-years about human-relationships--may they help you through whatever social maze you face and strengthen you for the year ahead:
1. Anyone who says they're a friend but never really makes the time to be there isn't a friend, and never will be.
-My life took me far from people I cared about. Today, there are still those who expect me to be there for them even though they have yet to make ANY efforts to come and see me...in nearly a quarter of a century. I can't afford to fret over people like that anymore. My many efforts throughout the decades to stay connected mean absolutely nothing. I'm like a piece of furniture--I only matter at their convenience. Guess that means I'm only convenient when I visit you, organize celebrations for you, attend your events, send you expensive gifts, and spend money I don't have to recognize the fact that you aren't really in my life outside of my doing what you want when you want, and all while pretending not to be a human being with needs...because that just makes you uncomfortable. If I died tomorrow, I'm not even sure I'd be worth a sympathy card. If a person doesn't care enough to visit while you're alive, chances are slim they'll care more at your death. Never a happy thought, but a bit of a relief to understand that it's really not you...it's them.
2. Anyone who sees another through jealousy or envy or desire isn't a friend, and never will be.
-My lack of real friendships with men who aren't old enough to be my father, or at least an older brother, comes to mind. I have a guy-pal from my teen years who is still my friend and always will be. We never dated and that might be part of the secret to our long-term success. Ours is more of a sibling-relationship. He once let me talk to him about my love-life for multiple hours on a drive from Atlanta to Tampa. I must have sounded insane, but he never judges me and is always there. We both have our own families and have been supportive of each other all the way through since we were 15. I was sad to have missed an important event for his oldest just a month or so before that long phone call, but he knew that if I could have made it there, I would have. Ironically, we were both born with the same last name yet we aren't related--though it certainly feels like we are, at least at the soul. Every other guy-friend has ultimately proven to be some form of stalker, or wanting to cheat with me, include me in a threesome, or foursome, or just use me in some way--usually for sex. One guy actually had the gall to tell me it might be worth it for me to help him cheat because I'd get some great conversations and lovely lunches. Dude, I'm not cheating with your old, married-ass for any reason. How dare you think yourself so high-and-mighty that lunch and conversation is all I need to agree to hurting myself and others. Let me just say, for the record, I have had a Fortune 500 CEO offer to fly me to his beach house on Kiawah Island, as well as offers of all kinds for other expensive, fun gifts from men who were better looking and more famous than you--including fucking movie stars--and I still said, "NO." I'm not for sale and never will be. It's a good thing to know about yourself. It's also good to know that you can see manipulative jerks for who they really are, regardless of the size of their *ahem* bank accounts. I don't care what you have or don't have--the moment any man asks more from me than he asks of himself is the moment that man reveals his true character. Or rather, lack thereof. You can't bully people into fucking you, or, loving you. And, trying to bully or buy a woman into doing either just makes you a scumbag.
3. Anyone who says you cannot be the person you want to be, or live the life you're willing to work for, is not a friend, and never will be.
-There are plenty of people out there cheering for me to fail. Some come from within my own circle, too. I'm the friend, sister, aunt, and daughter who listens without judgment, who gently tries to get you to see things from a different perspective, who loves you unconditionally, even when you say or do hurtful things. I'm there for family, friends and strangers alike. When I have failures, it's typically connected to social disadvantages--like being handicapped. I actually had people in my family tell me it was my fault for being disabled--that I could have (and should have) done more to "fix it." Ugh. Blaming the victim--still alive and well in 21st century America. When you have a brain tumor located in your motor cortex, you will have irreparable motor-damage. There's no rewiring either. Because, it was not just damage to that area of the brain. Part of the motor cortex had to be removed with the tumor. It was a hardcore decision I hoped wasn't going to be necessary--but I kind of felt choosing life over death was the right choice. It wasn't easy to know I wouldn't be the same, but despite my "handicap," I still stood on stage with Hollywood icons, didn't I? I still performed my comedy in front of 75,000 people in a weekend. I can still ride a stationary bike for 20 miles a day. Still push and pull hundreds of pounds at the gym. And, I'm also sexy-as-fuck. My "disability" is only a problem for other people--not for me. Nothing can or will stop me from achieving personal and professional goals...sure, you can slow me down if you choose not to give me a chance because I walk with a bit of a limp, but again, that's not my disconnect. It's yours.
4. Anyone who says and does things designed to manipulate is not a friend, and never will be.
-Don't you just love it when you bend over backwards for people, yet it's somehow never good enough? "Thanks for that ridiculously expensive gift...did you know you have some really unattractive feature you can't change? Not that it matters." Riiiggghhhttt. I'm old enough now not to let side-swipes throw me off balance, but it's still aggravating to have to navigate around something like that. It sticks to you, like an old piece of gum on the bottom of your shoe. Of course, it's meant to. Meant to create feelings of insecurity. Meant to create trouble. Cause a fight. Emotional click-bait. Yay! Aren't people wonderful??? So wonderful. About as wonderful as going above-and-beyond to support a kid who needed it through college, graduate school and beyond, then, have him discard you because it was more convenient to do so. Or, treat a younger friend like a sister--going on shopping sprees, fancy lunches, even letting her inherit pieces of your jewelry--only to have her ignore you and every kind thing you ever did, again, for no real reason outside of the fact it was somehow easier for her. What a waste. But trash will always throw you away. Count it as a blessing. Even though it hurts. You may not have completely dodged their bullet, but at least you no longer fruitlessly toil for the benefit of ingrates. You can now choose to spend your time, energy and money on people who deserve it.
5. Anyone who actively sabotages efforts to move your life forward--even if it's with a smile--is not a friend. And, sadly, never will be.
-Maybe it's an acquaintance, a relative, or a romantic partner. Perhaps a boss, a colleague, or someone you don't even know stalking you on social media. No matter what you do to move your life forward, someone is always there to tear you down--one way or another. Your savings gets drained by a thief. Your credit is destroyed by a con-man. Your chances of happiness, murdered by a criminal. You recover from two major bouts of high-grade cancer, going on to help everyone you meet, give massive amounts of love and affection and light to the world, only to have the people you care for most make your life more difficult than it needs to be. Instead of helping you, you get roadblocks. Usually financial. Demands on your time, your energy and your limited resources--which you must give or risk being discarded. But, you'll find that even when you give, you can still be discarded. People who want to sabotage you also sabotage themselves. Being a social saboteur is a passive-aggressive move typically engineered by narcissists. Any time you are able to identify a narcissist in your life--it's an opportunity to do some discarding yourself. Dump the toxic waste posing as a human being and hope the river of life carries it out to sea, far away from you and all you care about. Be grateful to be free of a negative person and never, ever look back.
You have to choose you first. One step at a time, one day at a time. Bad things can and will happen, but when they do, you can approach it with gratitude instead of attitude and find the solution in any problem. I've been more discerning in the people I choose to spend my time with. And, I'm much, much happier as a result. Instead of worrying about a person who doesn't, won't and can't appreciate me, I just use the silence left by their absence to listen for a heartbeat that is steady and true. That means I get opportunities to live and love in ways that would never have been possible otherwise. And, despite the difficulty, despite the pain, I'd call that a win.
The year 2018 is an "11" year. I am an "11." The number means Awakening. Unconditional Love. How those things will manifest in your life is up to you--not me. But I will be bringing all of the above to EVERYONE who reads my words. Words have power beyond this physical existence. Words can remind you of your wings, or, lack thereof. Words help you travel through time, reach beyond the stars, and into that place that has yet to even happen.
My words are my Light...and my Light is infinite. It reaches out to millions of people around the globe in more than 119 countries, all speaking different languages but wanting the same thing:
Love. Life. And the courage to live both.
You shall have it. If you need to leave your country, your city, your region to do so, you will find the opportunities you need and work hard to make them manifest in your life. This is YOUR year. For, it is my year, and I wish to use it to make yours better. Feel my hand reach through your screen to your chest. Take a deep breath. Heal. The Light within you is as infinite as mine.
You can have faith in any god, live in any country, be any ethnicity or gender, love whoever you want to love--I do not require you to change yourselves at all. I only require that you believe. Believe in yourself. You have the ability to completely change your world. To shape it anyway you want. No matter what others do to stop you. No matter what obstacles are pushed into your path. It is within you as it is within me.
Let Kindness be your guide. Compassion, your constant companion. Unconditional Love will protect you. Even in the darkest, deepest hole, you will feel my Light pull you up and out--something we can only do because that same Light is also inside of you.
Happy, healthy 2018 to every good soul connected to mine on this planet. The bad ones don't matter. Only we matter.
It's time you let yourself shine....
Sending positive energy--