Sunday, December 04, 2005

Justification

When I first saw this topic, I knew I was going to have a difficult time with it. I've been met with a lot of criticism in my life, and it's made me a bit defensive. I hate having to justify myself and my life. The real question is why I allow myself to feel like I have to.

The disease that runs in my family is perfectionism. I've seen generation after generation of the women in my family flog themselves trying to achieve the elusive ideal. I know that I suffer from it, and unfortunately I've passed on some of those traits to my daughter. My form of perfectionism is the mutated virus though. I'm going to be honest. I envy Martha Stewart who seems to pull everything, including being convicted of a crime and sent to jail, with elan. I look at the air brushed fantasies in the magazines and think that should be what my body/style/grooming/food/exercise program looks like. I absolutely hate not knowing something. Give me a challenge, and I'll do my best to rise to the occasion. Classic perfectionism.

Here's where it mutated though. I've never thought I could achieve it, but I was never able to eliminate the desire or the guilt because I couldn't. I have enough self-confidence to try certain things and enough self-doubt to just give up on others. "Oh, I'd never be able to do that" is a refrain that has gone through my head more times than I could count. On so many things, I quit before I even get started, because I question my ability to get the desired results. I know I've shut myself off from things that I really wanted. Other things, which bore the fire out me, I've poured a ton of time and energy into because I knew these were areas in which I'd be judged. My lack of interest and expectation of negative judgment combined to help me do a half assed job which brought about both the drudgery and judgment I feared. Another classic -- the self-fulfilling prophecy.

I'm tired of it. I'm beyond being tired of it. The other day when I was asked yet one more overly personal question, I felt that feeling I fear more than any other start to bubble up. Instead of shutting it down immediately, I let it rise, and I got good and angry. I turned to a friend who'll always listen when I need to vent. Anger is one of her strengths. She does it so well and with so much style, it's impressive. I replayed the conversation as best as I could, and she started asking me a few questions that I should have asked the person who ticked me off. I'd never thought of them, and they were things I need to know. I finally saw that the person who was sitting in judgment on me needed to justify their actions to me. I can't tell you how liberating that felt.

I've always felt that if people could just understand the motivations behind a behavior we could get along much more peacefully. Some people don't want to understand. Others just want to use that process against a person. It's time I dropped that naive illusion. What I can pick up in its place is that someone doesn't have to like me or approve of my life, but I can still require that I be treated with respect. No further explanations should be necessary.

I know that this is going to be one of those life issues that will involve some backward steps as well as forward ones. That's part of any process. However, I am ready now to say that the only justification I want to provide is that which aligns the words on my page.

Jodi suggested the topic of justification.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anne said...

Wonderful Cynthia. I have felt great liberation with age! There are some good things about growning older and that is growing wiser and more putting the demands on ourselves like we once did! ANNE

December 06, 2005 9:08 AM  
Blogger Lisa :-] said...

I've always felt that if people could just understand the motivations behind a behavior we could get along much more peacefully. Some people don't want to understand. Others just want to use that process against a person. It's time I dropped that naive illusion. What I can pick up in its place is that someone doesn't have to like me or approve of my life, but I can still require that I be treated with respect. No further explanations should be necessary."

"Understanding" is an over-rated concept. I've watched people--usually women--struggle to understand, and therefore excuse unacceptable behavior (usually by a friend or mate.) I don't think we need to understand each other. I think we need to give a damn how our actions affect other people. If we all did THAT, I think the world would be a lot better off. As if. Lisa :-]

December 06, 2005 11:27 AM  
Blogger Jod{i} said...

Thank you!!! Again beautifully executed. Isnt it amazing that when we write from our soul, how poetic and true it is??

I see I have kept you busy!!
I loved this and just couldnt agree more with your view. I hold the concepts there, yet find myself justifying or disclaiming way to much!

Great piece!

December 06, 2005 2:45 PM  
Blogger kas said...

I think you've said it perfectly.

December 06, 2005 3:55 PM  

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