For a long time, I believed pretty much everything bad was my fault. I grew up attending parochial school. So, I absorbed the idea that if something bad happened, it was my fault. I learned that the divine was punishing me.
I went through much of my first 40 or so years doing my best to be the good girl and a people pleaser, to avoid having bad things happen to me.
As I began to reject religion at around age 18, I delved into learning about Eastern traditions, paganism, Wicca, and New Age teachings. At around age 10, I would read psychology and the early self-help books on the library floor. I was trying to make sense of life.
In my twenties and thirties, I was heavily into New Age stuff such as the law of attraction. I never discarded the idea that everything that happens to me is my fault. I spent a ton of energy trying to avoid the bad stuff from happening.
I worked on things like "raising up my vibration" to prevent disappointment, heartache, sadness, disease, and other losses. I covered up difficult emotions and feelings with Olympic level affirmations.
At around age 40, I began discarding all the New Age guilt. I had been a Buddhist of sorts during my late 30s at the same time I was a New Age girl.
I loved the Buddhist idea of karma or cause and effect. It reinforced what I had believed all my life, that stuff that happened to me was my fault.
I figured that even if a tree would ever happen to fall into me, that I must have planted the causes sometime in the past, whether it's this lifetime or a past life.
The thing is, life has a way of happening. I've learned that people you love die. Whoa, now there's something that isn't my fault!
But...I mean, I was so hard on myself that I wondered could I have prevented others' deaths? I wanted to go back in time and take them to their doctor or cook them vegetarian meals. Stuff like that came up and the guilt piled up. I felt pummeled.
I began to think if there was a natural disaster some place, that too, was my fault. Maybe I hadn't prayed hard enough for world peace?
I've allowed others, even loved ones, at times to hurt me because I was too chicken to set boundaries.
I didn't want to stand up for myself because that wouldn't be "being nice," and I thought I wouldn't be planting good seeds for myself to have good stuff or karma.
Again, I wanted to prevent the bad stuff from happening. So, I put up with lots of bad behavior and hurtful words. At times, I tolerated things that were abusive.
I've not really ever been one to blame others for things not working out as I desired. I tend to be very self-aware and I take full responsibility for my results (or lack thereof) in my life.
I've always been Old Reliable. I show up when I say I will, usually with a gift and a meal, haha! I don't flake out. If I have to reschedule, it's at least 1-2 days in advance.
I try to be polite and think of others, even in the smallest of ways. As I've become older, I've stopped apologizing so much as a form of self-protection.
At times, I've even apologized to others when they're upset about something or stressed out and it has nothing to do with me. I apologized as a pre-emptive protection, since I knew from the past that some project stuff or take things out on me.
That is the sort of thing my heart has a hard time handling. I mean, in my mind, I've tried my best to be kind, accommodating, putting my own needs aside, and apologizing even. It's like having a shield in a battle and you think you're safe, but bullets or arrows penetrate and you still die. Ha!
I think of myself as a good person, as someone you would want in your corner. I'm also the kind of friend who would hold your hair back as you puke when you've drank too much alcohol. True story. I've also lost a friend because I saved her life by calling an ambulance, preventing her from overdosing on drugs. She was mad at me. Another true story.
So, I have learned that even if I'm loving, bad things still can happen. I sometimes can't avoid or shield myself from being in the crossfire.
I'm also the kind of person or friend who will support you, lend a listening ear, attend many of your music gigs, remember your birthday, and hold you as you cry. But, even by being loving and supportive, it won't guarantee that friendships will last forever. It doesn't guarantee that even family will love you back.
Even with all these uncertainties and past hurt, each day, I show up for life.
I show up for others.
I try to love others the best that I can.
I'm a work in progress when it comes to knowing how to set boundaries. In the past, I've not always done it lovingly. I reached places where hurt and pain built up due to me not speaking up for myself. So, I've had a few times where I've unleashed my anger onto others. It was before I knew how to speak up for myself in a loving way.
So, I'm not perfect. I just do my best.
I try hard to accept others...without accepting their unkind words or behavior.
What can I say? I care.
As I've been processing the disappointment about my book journey, I've learned that sometimes, others won't or can't show up in the same way I have shown up for them.
I really have not expected others to reciprocate to me. I figure everything balances out in some way. I know my good can come from many possible sources.
I still believe in trusting karma. I never did nice things or supported others expecting a big karmic payout. I just chose to be kind and loving because it felt good and like the right thing to do. It's my nature.
However, I'm human. I'm not a machine. I have had moments of sadness when others haven't showed up. It's more when they said they would. It's more when you have been friends for a while and they've supported you and suddenly stop.
I've learned that is the nature of relationships. They're not perfect. I don't expect anything much any more from others.
I know I sound possibly jaded. The thing is, if you have high expectations of others, you will get hurt. I've learned to let others know what I want or need. I also give what I need to myself. It feels better than blaming myself for not doing enough or being loving enough towards loved ones. I call it "heart insurance," since I won't have to experience the disappointment in my heart when others don't support me.
It's so jarring when you experience others not showing up. I understand. I've been there many times. I have showed up for appointments a few days after my mom passed, not crying or expecting support, but having difficulties scheduling the follow up appointments. That's not my fault. Maybe some don't want to be reminded of death? Maybe I was bringing that up for them?
I've had folks I've hired and paid not fully show up during my decade of having an online business. I learned lessons, yes. I was disappointed in them too. I worked on not feeling it was my fault. Again, I wondered what I did to cause their lack of attention to detail, poor workmanship, or laziness.
Over the past five years, I've signed some contracts. Others didn't do all of their part. Promises were broken. I showed up doing my part, however. I gave everything 120%...or more.
When others have a lack of integrity, it's hard to process and take. I didn't speak up for myself, again, since I didn't want to be "mean" and create negative karma or causes for myself.
Due to not speaking up for myself, I have at times made myself physically sick due to the overwhelm of my own feelings and emotions. Even though I've been kind and loving and done my part to show up, I've blamed myself still. Yes, it's messed up. I get it now.
Here's my big a-ha moment. It might not sound like something an enlightened person would say, but I will share it: I now understand that it's not fair to blame myself 100% for everything bad that happens to me or on the planet.
People still are under their own consciousness. I can't 100% control outcomes, even if others have made promises or are bound to a contract. I'm not God. I'm not the universe. Thank goodness.
I still partially believe in karma. I just don't use it to beat myself up any more. When so-called bad things happen to me or in the world, I ask what the lesson is for me. I ask how I can be a bigger or better force of love in the universe.
Other times, I might need to vent or swear to feel better. I just honor my human side that way. Once I honor how I feel, things shift. I go back to a place of compassion for myself and others, since we are all learning.
I don't hold onto a ton of hurt any more. I also find it's better to keep my heart open, even with all the bad things that have happened to me.
As I show up each day on the planet for myself and others, I find some comfort that some do show up for me no matter what.
I smile as the sun and moon greet me daily.
My neighborhood squirrels and birds visit daily. I thank them for their friendship by feeding them.
Every day, my sweet hubby hugs me.
My true friends show up too. I have some people who I love like family.
My heart beats and my lungs breathe.
The stars always are there.
I smile daily in the mirror, even if it's hard.
There's constancy in the universe, even amidst the change that is constant.
Not everything can stay the same, I get that.
I do know that even though loving deeds or showing up for others feels unrequited at times, that love will never go away. It just takes different forms, sometimes unexpected ones.
It's there though.