Tuesday, August 9, 2022

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Self confidence and self acceptance part 2

It’s been more than a year ago that I wrote Part 1 of ‘Self confidence and self acceptance’

What that means is, I am more than a year older than I was then. The relevance? None. I am still just me. I wake up every day with a sense of myself as being me in the present state of my aliveness. I am in the face and body of my today self, but I am no more my face or body now than last year or at any other point in my life. I am simply the living being that I am. My age simply tells the number of years that have passed since I began my living journey. And naturally, like every living thing, my appearance changes each year to reflect the stage of my journey.

I have not been focusing a great deal on skin care and other concerns with my physical appearance. Even my exercise routines which I’ve kept up since I was twelve or thirteen have been a struggle to keep up.

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In part 1 I wrote:

Here’s the thing about the self-love journey (at least my own). It is an ongoing every day battle. It’s lifelong. Some days you feel invincibly confident and sure of your knowledge of self and your acceptance of self. Other days you’re riddled with self doubt and feelings of shame and self hate.

You might be wondering what is the cause of my current struggle with self confidence and self acceptance. Unlike in “Self confidence and self acceptance part 1”, my struggle is not with accepting myself because of how I look in a photograph. I think I’m doing pretty well with staying conscious of the need to love myself equally no matter how I look. That is not to say that it is an easy thing to do. I’m not here to pretend that aging is not difficult while living in an image focused world where people start treating you like you have less worth and value from the age of 30. But I have been consciously rejecting any thoughts and feelings that are self-hating, and self-critical relative to my external appearance. It takes work. It takes a certain amount of self-awareness to catch myself in the act and reject the thoughts and feelings before they get too deep into my psyche.

In the case of my present struggle, I believe that it is a combination of things, the tipping point of which was embarrassing myself by letting someone hear me cry who should never have experienced my tears. Word to the wise, when you are mentally and emotionally vulnerable, it is absolutely the worse time to place your trust in new characters who enter your life.  I met someone who won over my trust to the point where this person made me feel like I could lean on them and really allow myself to be vulnerable with them in a way I don’t think I have ever allowed myself to be vulnerable with anyone else. It wasn’t the wisest choice I’ve ever made.

If you’re still reading to this point, I know my writing can be very dense and boring with run-on sentences galore and a million other violations of grammar and good writing. So I thank you for reading despite all that.

But you know, people cannot make you place your trust in them. That is something you choose to do. Indeed they represent that they are worthy of your trust and they desire your trust and value your trust, but it is still on you to grant your trust. And if you grant it and it turns out to be a mistake, you have to accept full responsibility.

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The problem is, I have not been accepting responsibility. I’ve been feeling betrayed, insulted, owed some kind of meaningful explanation and sincere apology. But the thing is, in this life, nobody owes you anything. I’ve said that to this person so many times they understand it clearly enough to have never felt the need to provide that meaningful explanation and sincere apology. And why should they? We are responsible for our own self. We have to decide what our friendship and our trust and our love are worth so that we don’t just freely offer these very valuable things to people who have not earned them. Our friendship and our trust and our love is not for every and anybody. Not everybody will value these gifts from us. To some people these are not worth anything. They might use what amounts serve a need they have in a moment, but we, as the source of it–the provider of it–we have no real and lasting value to them.

It is our responsibility to protect our self from those kinds of experiences. And if we fail our self, then we have to take responsibility for what we have done to our own self. This person did nothing to me that I did not make possible to be done. And it is with this that I have been struggling. I’ve been struggling to accept that I was foolish.  I’ve been feeling betrayed, but it is I who betrayed myself. I shared my deepest thoughts and feelings with someone whose friendship was not as they claimed it to be. And I cannot fault them because I should have been more intelligent in understanding that the kind of friendship that warrants that level of openness and honesty and vulnerable exposure of one’s most private self is a deep friendship that grows to its depth over time and through meaningful shared experiences.

Just because someone claims to be a friend and encourages you to trust them and to share your very heart and soul with them–that is not reason enough to go ahead and share all your hopes and dreams, and all your sorrows and your every random thought. (To be clear, I did also share my joys and make myself available to be shared anything with and tried as often to uplift with positive energy as I could be accused of seeking to be uplifted. Was I at times in a dark place and reached to this person for light? Yes. Could it have been too much for this person? Yes. But, this person mislead me to believe it was safe to reach out. Time and time again. At any point they had opportunity to be honest. They chose to repeat the same invitation and the same promises that it was okay.)

Nonetheless, there is no excuse for being so socially inept that you do not recognize in the first place that they don’t really mean it when they tell you that it’s okay. They don’t mean it when they tell you how much they love it when you write novel length emails telling them all the banal details of your life, along with all the dark stuff you go through and everything between. They say it because they expect that you are well enough trained in the social graces to not actually take them up on their invitation to tell them anything. They expect you to know the difference between a real friendship and a friendship that is just a word. And knowing the difference, you do not give someone who is a friend only in word the kind of access to your soul that you would give to a real and true friend.

Unfortunately, due to this disappointing experience, I suffered a bit of a setback where my confidence and my acceptance of self is concerned. I know perfectly well that no one should have the power to undermine your self confidence and your ability to accept yourself. And to be clear, it isn’t that this person has undermined my self confidence and my ability to accept myself. It is the foolishness I feel for having made such a big mistake in letting down my guard so completely.

I go back to that statement which I think is an important point–an intelligent person knows that friendship of the kind where you can trust your heart and your soul and the contents of your mind to another person–that kind of friendship doesn’t grow overnight. It’s a seed you plant and it grows over a lifetime. And it needs to reach a certain size and solid sturdiness before you can be sure that it is going to survive whatever all life will throw at it. And even then, you can’t really ever be sure. To have failed to understand this very important point is completely unforgivable.

But I have to forgive myself. And that is where I’m at right now. I have to accept this very big mistake that I made. I’ve spent months trying to not deal with it. And the way I did that was by continuing to be in contact–continuing to try to create ways for that person to engage with me so that I would feel like there is a connection. And if there is a connection then I don’t have to face the reality that I made one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made in my life. It might seem dramatic. But you see, I am not in the habit of being vulnerable like that with everybody. I admit that I am a very open person, but there’s a certain amount of consciousness about it. I don’t believe in being ashamed of the the things that have happened in your life. So I’ve shared a lot on the blogs I’ve maintained over the years. But there are nuances to openness–being publicly open in a memoir, or in my case on a blog, isn’t the same as being privately open with a confidant. And like I said, I don’t think I’ve ever been that wide open with anybody ever–to have felt safe enough to share all the things I shared–to have become emotionally attached to this person–this is not something I do every day. And to have the friendship I thought we shared tossed into the trash with a shrug and a “things change”, it’s hard to not feel ashamed of myself for having given this person that opportunity in the first place. I’m very frustrated with myself and it’s proving difficult to get past the shame and the frustration and the disappointment with myself. But I do know that I must get past it because confidence and self acceptance only get harder as we get older.

I have to put this behind me. I have to let go and move on.

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