It’s the memory that hides

I’ve heard it said that there are three sides to every story: yours, theirs, and the truth.

It takes a great deal of self-awareness to recognize your own role in things that happen to you. After all, we all tend to be the good guys in our own stories. If something bad happens, it’s a natural tendency to blame the other person.

It’s funny how memory works this way, too. I discovered yesterday that my husband’s view of the events that led to me moving here are quite different from how I remember them. His view is much less flattering toward me than the nearly-heroic way I saw myself. Ultimately, that’s now inconsequential because we decided years ago to move on from the unchangeable past. But there were definitely times when our different perceptions of the same event were a huge roadblock to understanding each other.

I’m working hard on the need to let go of being right. Because the truth is that being right is just ego. If you can prove yourself right but you damage a relationship in the process, was it really worth the win?

In reality, because we all see events from our own unique perspectives, it’s often difficult to determine one definitive “right” answer anyway. Sure, if it’s a matter of fact, like whether or not something existed, that can be proven. Perhaps the better question is why it needs to be proven and at what cost. But if it’s a matter of differing perspectives or opinions, you can’t really prove yourself right.

The other side of that coin, however, is that the need to be right can be a defense mechanism built up after years of having your reality questioned. Or more accurately, having someone tell you that you can’t trust your own perceptions, that you might not feel what you think you feel. Having someone invalidate your reality is one of the biggest mindfucks there is. I experienced it for the vast majority of my life.

It’s extremely hard to come back from that and say that you don’t need to be right. When you’ve been taught to distrust yourself, proving yourself right feels like self-defense, like you have to fight for your right to have your own views and perceptions.

But ultimately, we’re all still rulers of our own little one-person kingdoms. No matter how much you love and need the people around you, in the end you are really all that you have. So you have to learn to like yourself, to be comfortable alone, to be resilient and capable of figuring things out on your own.

If you’re always depending on other people to help you, you’ll spend a lot of time feeling disappointed. People will always let you down, even if they don’t mean to. They can’t read your mind and they give you the most they have to offer. Almost always, you’ll reach a point where people can only help so much, and then you have to take it from there and rely on yourself. Trying to take care of one’s own self is hard enough without also carrying the emotional responsibility for fixing someone else.

I have been working hard to learn to trust myself and to rely on myself. It’s funny that relying on myself feels less scary as my confidence in myself increases.

At the same time, change is a slow process. I can accept myself more than I did before but I still have bad days. My biggest challenge is learning that it’s not my job to fix other people. That’s potentially problematic given what I want to do as a career. Since I want to be a counselor or social worker in some capacity, I need to continue working on developing boundaries (to reference my last post.)

Because ultimately, feeling responsible for fixing other people isn’t healthy, especially when they don’t want the help. I beat my head against the figurative wall repeatedly for years, trying to fix the same person. I saw so much potential in this person but they did not want to change. It was frustrating and hard to see their frequent pain in reaction to having so many crises and making so little effort to change that.

When you feel others’ pain intensely, you naturally want to help them avoid feeling that pain again. But that’s not your job; that’s your ego. Thinking that you can help other people learn lessons before they’re ready is a sign of one unhealthy helper-type person.

The reason I call myself “conflict girl” is because I always see things from multiple angles and perspectives. On the one hand, I think that will make me an excellent fit for the counseling field. I recognize that other people can arrive at completely different conclusions from mine and still be right because of all the factors that went into their side of the story. (At least, I can do that as an outside observer. It’s a lot harder in personal relationships, though I’ve made a lot of progress on that, too.)

Nobody’s definitively right or wrong, yet everybody is, depending on your perspective. But on the other hand, I have to keep developing a stronger sense of self so that I don’t have as much invested in needing to be right. Needing to be right inevitably means someone also has to be wrong, putting the “right” person above the other. The goal is to get ego out of the way and be okay with yourself, even if people think untrue things about you.

I also need to keep working on meditation and prayer and journaling to keep my ego in check. To confidently stand in my truth while not needing to be right about things of which I’m certain.

I need to learn how to be healthy and whole and I keep working toward that goal. I’m much better than I was five years ago, let alone ten or twenty years ago. I hope I’ll be able to say the same five more years from now.

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