Accepting What Is
“When people show/tell you who they are, always believe them the first time.” – Maya Angelou
I heard that today on a tivo’d Oprah about women whose husbands were living a secret life. I rewound and listened to it several times, it’s really is a simple truth and yet so hard to follow.
I think in our relationships we often project onto others what we wish they were, only see what we want to or create these expectations of them. Not all expectations are bad. Some of these are needs we have of them and these needs might be legitimate. However, we have to see and accept people for who they are, the truth, not what we need them to be, no matter how noble or right it is.
Yet, what if they lie, cheat, deceit, disappoint, manipulate and hurt? You have to accept that too? Maya Angelou’s point is if they lie they are a liar, if they cheat they are a cheater, etc. If they are doing those things then that is what they are. My dad says that “people do what is in their heart to do.” Our hearts are good and bad.
I believe that. We all have defects in our character, we all fall prey to our own shadow sides. Yet, we all have good points that drive us to do the right thing. Yet whenever the shadow side takes over the main point of difference between the two is remorse and a desire to change. I think.
If they are not sorry, not wanting true change and are not taking accountability for what they did or are doing then that is who they are. We don’t have to like it. We do have to accept the reality of the situation and not continue to project our fantasy of the situation or person.
The fantasy might be warmer and fuzzier but its not the truth. We also have to admit to ourselves what we are getting from them or the situation. With the women on Oprah it was an opulent lifestyle, children or the illusion of a perfect marriage. They overlooked key signs because they didn’t want to see the truth. We have to be brutally honest with ourselves first, and then make our decisions accordingly.
The truth of who we are is realized when we realize the truth. Who are we? Do we take responsibility for our actions? Do we play the victim? Do we stay unwilling to address the truth?
We have to take ownership of our own situation. When discover that someone isn’t healthy, isn’t honest, isn’t trustworthy, it is up to us to draw appropriate boundaries around them.
I’m here to say that is hard to do because of our expectations of the relationship. As you probably guessed I am in the middle of learning this lesson. I am trying to wrap my brain around the reality of who someone is. I was under the notion of one idea and it is proving not to be true.
I’ve stayed hoping things would be different. I stay projecting my expectations. I stay lying in the middle of the road wondering why I keep getting run over. I know they care about me, but they are incapable/unwilling to change the behavior I find so hurtful.
When I boil it down to these terms it somehow removes the emotion in a way that helps me see truth and make decisions. It moves me from victim to a place of power because I am not waiting for them to change unnecessarily. I am not giving them an ultimatum to change. Instead I am giving them the freedom to be themselves and then making my own conclusions and decisions.
This sucks. I wish it could be different. But I have to make the decision to be healthy. It is so much easier to stay in the familiar dysfunction tethered in co-dependency. Healthy change takes courage and consistency.