And basically I can see that I've been all wrong, all along.
Ok, maybe not all wrong. But a lot wrong, a lot of the time, and for a long time running. For a number of years, and especially since I've abandoned a connection with any specific religion, the way I've made moral decisions in my life was to ask whether doing something would intentionally (or even unintentionally) hurt somebody else. I have certainly failed at acting in accordance with this moral code; I have certainly done the things that hurt others. Usually I come to find out after the fact that something I did hurt somebody else unintentionally, but occasionally I have gone into something knowing very well the potential harm. For those incidents, I am truly sorry. For most of them, I have taken the time to say so to the person(s) affected.
There is another way, however, to fail at this moral code. And I'm seeing now that probably 95% of all pain I've experienced--most likely throughout the course of my entire life--has to do with the woefully misguided interpretation of my own moral code. I've left out a crucial element, which is to say that, all along, I should have also been asking whether an action I would take had the potential to hurt me.
After all, I'm a person too.
As I sit here and write this, I cannot *believe* how ridiculously simple these equations are:
Hurts others = bad. Doesn't hurt others = good. Hurts me = bad. Doesn't hurt me = good.
Really, look at that and tell me whether we still need a list of specific commandments that spell out all the details.
But simple as this is, it has still somehow eluded me all this time. Now, for sure, I've had my moments of clarity...glimpses into the beauty of the most stripped down interpretation, allowing me to see straight. Example: some 7 years ago, I was really struggling with feelings I had for a person who was (and likely will always be, even if single) completely unavailable. I'd made a series of choices that caused me to care more and therefore hurt more than I ever should have, knowing what I'd known all along about this person's (un)availability. For weeks I walked around feeling semi-haunted by my inappropriate feelings and all the sadness and confusion that went along with them.
Then one day, it finally occurred to me: I'd done this. I'd gotten myself into this state, through my own choices. The other person wasn't doing anything to me, keeping me captive in any way, wasn't in any way responsible for making it any easier. In that moment of awakening I felt a freedom I had never known before: If I'd gotten myself in that mess, it was, of course, me and only me who could wrest myself free. And so, pretty instantly, I did.
Even though I had that experience and benefited greatly at the time from the knowledge, I still managed to unlearn the lesson in the intervening years. And I am not of the opinion that I should have every last thing figured out by now. I certainly hope that I will spend a lifetime learning. But this lesson I really would have done well to retain, and to act as one who knows better.
So, back to the moral code. The biggest way in which I feel I have failed to live in accordance with the harm/no harm principle is by not being honest. This works on two levels. One: I have been often and undeniably dishonest with myself. I have fooled myself about what I could live with, who I wanted to be, and what it means to be happy. Two: I have been often and undeniably guilty of lies of omission. There is so much I've withheld over the years that I sometimes think it's kind of scary. This has been most harmful in the romantic relationship sense, but I can see now that it has negatively affected every single relationship in my life.
Let me clarify that I'm not talking about withholding the truth about actions I've taken. With the exception of those harmful actions I already alluded to, I have not done too many things I've felt were necessary to do any confessing about. What I'm talking about is neglecting to share my true thoughts and feelings--about important matters, and to the most important people in my life.
For a long time I think I have sold myself the line that I'm just trying to be "nice." That I'm trying to be sensitive to people's feelings, that I would hurt them if I were truly honest, and that I want people to like me. Now, I can see that most of that is bullshit. What I have really been is cowardly. And I have failed to accept the somewhat obvious notion that if I have not been honest with the people I love and care about, they don't really know me, and do not have the potential to love me fully, the real me, anyway. And all of my truth omitting has caused major infractions of the moral code. I have indeed, deeply and often, hurt myself as a result.
I am shocked with the implications here...of how much time I've wasted.
It's a good thing.
It occurs to me I must be sending out some kind of invisible signal letting the universe know I'm ready to practice this lesson as a child would painstakingly scrawl out cursive capital Q's, over and over again until she got it right. I say that because in the last week I have been presented with a number of opportunities to speak and act exactly in accordance with my true feelings on wildly varying topics. And each time, I have chosen to speak and act in truth.
Amazingly, I'm still alive. Amazingly, I still have a job. Amazingly, I still have friends.
Amazingly, I also found some self respect.
All of that was background--sitting, however, squarely in the foreground of
Today's New Activity: New Honesty over New Beer
In line with all of this, I arranged a meeting with a friend I care about to talk. There were some things I needed to get off my chest, and a little bit of historical coming clean I wanted to do to explain thoughts and feelings I was having that would affect our friendship going forward. This followed the sharing of another honest-but-difficult-for-me-to-talk-about feeling I took the chance on expressing to my parents (they still love me, for the record).
The quasi-bar where I met my friend served a number of beers on tap. My go-to would have been either Sierra Nevada or Sam Adams. Sierra Nevada was out. Sam Adams was not. I chose Shock Top instead. Shock Top is a beer I know nothing about and do not really care enough for to research and share anything about here. It was just okay. The choice of a new beer obviously takes backseat to the activity surrounding its consumption anyway: the truthy seepage.
It feels really, really good to be honest. Of course, I must say it helps to be surrounded by loving people with whom sharing the honest truth is a safe activity that can lead to a deeper understanding and greater mutual appreciation. Not all friendships and relationships function in this way, of course. But those that do are the ones worth keeping close at heart anyway.
I hope I will always be tactful and considerate when sharing my true feelings. And I hope I can also have the forethought and strength to avoid unloading my own feelings only to burden another person. Of course it is always somebody's choice how they want to react to being told anything, but I still think it's best to first examine the motives for sharing in the first place.
So then...fair warning: if you know me, chances are there are things I haven't told you about how I think and feel. Of course this is true, as it is undoubtedly true of anybody (anybody who still has friends anyway). Some of it may have at least partially to do with you. Most of it probably doesn't need to be told. But in few instances, I may be making up for lost time. Haha. That's not a threat, just a promise to be a better, more trustworthy, and fully three-dimensional friend in the future.
Sending you all much love....