I had a discussion with a friend about perception – how many people mistake what they see and hear as reality. This isn’t always the case. Sometimes they’re not seeing the whole picture and their views are extremely restricted and limited. It’s very much like the old Indian tale about the blind men and the elephant. If you base everything you know on one limited perspective, you’ll never know the whole story.
Although you might not realize it given that I sometimes venture over into TMI in some posts, I’m rather introverted and private. Some might even go so far as to say I’m secretive. It’s complicated and only true introverts will understand, but I find it difficult to talk to people without tripping over my words or saying something highly inappropriate or occasionally (and accidentally) insulting! I believe this stems from constantly being worried about what might come out of my mouth, so even as I’m speaking, my brain is trying to ensure that my mouth doesn’t come out with the wrong thing. I’m socially awkward and always have been. That’s where writing comes in. If there was a verbal backspace, I’d be golden. As it is, once something leaves my mouth, it sometimes hangs there, clumsy and foolish, while I hang my head and desperately wish for a hole to open up beneath me and swallow me whole.
But it is also difficult for me to let many people in, at least to any depth. On more than one occasion, after finally having a lengthy conversation with someone, I’ve had them say something along the lines of “I used to think you were a snob!” or “I had no idea you were so funny!” Even people who have known me for a long time but have never really gotten to know me. I simply allow myself to be overshadowed. In my case, Baby puts her own self in the corner.
Curiously, where these people see arrogance, an inferiority complex actually resides. What they think is snobbishness is actually low self-esteem. Where it seems as though I’m ignoring someone, I’m often actually having a brutal internal dialogue trying to simultaneously psyche myself up to talk to someone and allay my own fears about not being “worthy” enough to. I’m my own worst enemy, I know. It’s brutal…
In any case, another facet of my personality is that I truly despise negativity (which almost sounds like an oxymoron), and so I’m often trying to find the bright side and encourage others to do so, as well, when I sometimes want nothing more to do than scream. And with my difficulty being in the spotlight, I avoid drama as best I can. Drama tends to draw that light full beam, front and center which is exactly why I hang out in the darkened wings.
Why am I telling you all of this? It goes back to my discussion with B regarding perception and reality and perspective. The German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche once said,“there are no facts, only interpretations.” I believe a good many widows (or middows©) may be in a similar place as I am. We spend a good deal of time trying to convince others (and in some cases, ourselves) that we are doing better than we actually are. Grief is such a volatile, organic thing that there are no concrete truths. Our reality is constantly changing and we’re forced to try to make sense of it.
Most of us have good intentions (or at least reasonable “excuses”) as to why we bend the truth a bit. In my case, it serves a dual purpose of avoiding unwanted attention and not worrying my friends and family too much. As there really isn’t all that much anyone can do aside from allowing me to “get there” on my own, there seems to be no benefit to being completely honest all the time. I’m not lying so much as simply choosing to focus on the blessings in my life, and to protect my loved ones from becoming infected with my sorrow. They have their own grief to work through; it wouldn’t be fair to heave mine onto them, as well.
You likely know someone who blurts out every little thought and minute emotional fluctuation as they occur, especially via social media, almost as if you’re witnessing a real-time bipolar episode. (Please don’t take this to mean that I’m making light of a mental health issue; the people to whom I’m referring are those who are seeking attention only, casting out any and every net, far and wide, in the hopes of catching as many sympathetic fish as possible. I’ve seen posts from individuals that literally (and yes, I am using it correctly in this instance) update their statuses half a dozen times in a matter of minutes, ranging from sadness to anger to ecstasy and back to gloom. It’s exhausting.)
Because of people like that, I’m leery of being seen as flighty and unstable. Honestly, my emotions fluctuate all over the place, too, but I try to get a general overview of a day (or part of a day) when discussing my moods with those who ask. When I say I’ve had a good day (or a bad one), I mean that the scales were mainly tipped in one direction or the other. I’m taking a step back and seeing my emotional elephant as a whole, rather than the individual feelings that have crossed my path, often at rapid-fire speed throughout the course of a day.
This is my perspective, while emotional turmoil is my reality. Much like most people who are grieving, I think. So when you ask a brokenhearted, grief stricken person how they’re doing, don’t take what they say as a fact, but an interpretation. And it is possibly the elephant in the room.
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