Something happened when I eventually found a healthy, reciprocal, loving relationship with an emotionally mature and respectful person. Firstly, I had to grow up. I couldn’t throw temper tantrums anymore. You know, when you get all passive-aggressive, or sooky, or start sub-tweeting? That. And… I began feeling more centered and stable. I felt supported and like I was empowered to do (or find out) what I really wanted/loved. I felt more loving.
All of these phenomena have developed further, in the past year, and while I still get the occasional blues (usually for no reason, although sometimes it’s because I haven’t done anything fun for a while) or reds (usually because I’m annoyed at myself for some reason), I am the most hippie-like I’ve ever been.
My favourite feeling or mood is what I call my zen (which is probably completely the wrong word for it, but anyway!); it’s when I feel magnanimous and loving and accepting and kind. It used to be a very, very rare, fleeting experience, but now it’s making more of an appearance, every week. And I’ve been pretty hopeless with keeping any regular meditation/morning pages/etc practice, so I don’t think it’s from those things!
I was talking to James the other day about car crashes. I was unconfident, naïve and (of course) inexperienced when I started driving, and I felt immense pressure on the roads to not make other drivers angry – by speeding up, or being zippy, or moving out of the way, or whatever it was. I had a few car accidents because of this pressure.
A day after we’d been talking about this, I was driving home, and the driver behind me was getting closer and closer to my car, urging me to go faster, and when I put on my indicator to turn (safely, a block away from my street), the driver flashed their lights at me and sped past, dangerously, almost swiping me. As I drove down the side street, I thought: We all have an incredible power, and we abuse it all the time – we have the power to make other people feel good, or feel bad – and so often, we choose to make them feel bad.
That’s obvious and trite, right? I don’t know. Whether it’s arguing, or criticising, or quietly judging, or playing miniature one-upmanship… boy, the number of companies I’ve worked in, where everyone complains about other people! And as for me – I know I’m really bad at just being around a person. Just seeing them for who they are, and saying hi. I always feel like I have to transact: we’re either here together for a reason, or we should get busy doing something else. I don’t think that behaviour makes people feel very good.
My boyfriend, dog, family and friends thrive when they are generously fed affection. The same generally goes for colleagues, acquaintances and strangers. This sounds so dorky, but: I have the power to affect every person with whom I interact – in person, by email, anyhow. I want to remember that.
I think the world is a big crazy work of art, and that there’s no meaning to it, except any meaning we make, and the smallest meaning is really the most important – we can feel good; we can feel bad. If we help other people feel good, I think there are fantastic consequences. We thrive.
The flip side of all this, which I’ve also been thinking about, is when people want me to feel bad. There was the car driver who was angry at me because I wasn’t driving 80 in a 60 zone; who was flashing their lights at me, wanting me to feel bad. Then there was another car driver, who was angry at me because I was holding them up while I waddled across a pedestrian crossing, and they shouted, “Walk slower, you fucking cunt!”, wanting me to feel bad. To be frank, in the past, there’s a likelihood that I would feel angry in response to being antagonised. I’m not proud to admit it, but I have gestured rudely to people. Even very recently; my mum was parking her car, and a pedestrian who was trying to cross the street in front of her was really pissed off because she had to wait for mum to park, and she gestured rudely to my mum, and I couldn’t stop myself… I did the same back. I’m glad the woman didn’t see it. Or my mum.
I don’t want to be like that. I don’t want someone else, who wants to make me feel bad, to succeed, or to make me respond negatively. So… I’ve been thinking about this, but I don’t have any wise ideas. I can observe what’s happening, and think, “Well, they sure want to make me feel bad,” and try to be untouched – but it always feels a bit strange, like I’m not being empathetic. And sometimes it just gets to you anyway. I don’t know how to solve that.