More than a few decades ago, I was a very different person. I mishandled a number of personal and professional relationships. Because a deep belief in my own unworth, I saw slights in sometimes the most innocent of gestures. I mistrusted friendships because my sole thought was that I was unlikable and hurt was the inevitable outcome. As a result I became unlikable and ended up hurting others. Joe and I had some blistering fights, at my core I knew I wasn't his equal and I used my anger to try and level the playing field. How he stuck through that time I will never know.
It was not a sudden overwhelming realization that did it. It was a slow coming to awareness that the person I was wasn't the person I wanted to be. This led to further self loathing. But then, I decided that I had the power to change, that I had all the tools I needed to begin down the road towards becoming more like the person I wanted to be. I wanted to be worthy of Joe's love and affection. I wanted to be clear minded in my dealings with others - I didn't want the noise of my past, what I had done and what had been done to me, to be part of how I began and maintained relationships. I wanted to be able to think without suspicion, I wanted to be open to hearing words from others without the noise of a thousand taunts interfering, I wanted to evaluate without looking through the colour of bruise.
Yes I have been bullied and teased all my life.
Yes I have been hurt, purposely, over and over again.
No, I didn't have to have a future scared by the acid of the past.
No, I could become a person made by my own hands not the hands of others before.
I am still not the person I want to become. But I can see him, I can feel him and I can hear his voice on occasion. That brings me, not joy, but peace.
Even very recently I had to do what I've been doing as part of this journey. I had to stop. Think. Evaluate. Look at the path I was on. Ask hard questions about why I was doing what I was doing. Pull back from the brink by blowing away emotions clouding my mind. And I had to understand the behaviour of others does not give me an excuse to react without kindness or thought of consequence.
I have been working on building my physical strength but the work of building my character muscles is exhausting.
I am 64 and still chasing the person I want to be.
I wonder if I'll ever shake his hand.