“What we do comes out of who we believe we are” -Rob Bell
I’ve always been very aware of my thoughts and emotions, what they mean, what they might mean, how to handle them according to my morality, how others might perceive them to mean, and how I view myself based off of them. I censor them and then rationalize where they come from to see if they make sense or not. Except that lately I’ve been getting fact and opinion mixed up, meaning and meaningless confused, and lost touch with what is and what isn’t, effectively losing touch of who I am. No wonder I’ve been emotionally and intellectually stretched to exhaustive limits these past few weeks. That dark cloud of anxiety and confusion just about consumed me last week, and thankfully, I’m in the process of healing from my self doubt and criticism, one issue at a time.
The best example I can give as an explanation is through my uncertainty with dating. I’ve written about that quite a bit I’ve noticed, and that’s because I am indeed at a loss of what to think of all these emotions and desires within the parameters of how I view myself, and judge myself. Experimenting with that part of me has shown me a side of me I haven’t met, because I’ve never done anything like it. In some ways it’s fun finding things out about yourself in different situations, and sometimes I think about it too much, and that’s when I get into trouble.
Even though my romantic history consists of a whole whopping two people, I’ve learned so much about myself through those two experiences that it threw me into a place of insecurity. I’ve learned that there is an ugly part of me that wants to treat dating like a power play, who gets what, when, and under what circumstances, control optimization to feed my ego. If I do this, then I can get this from him. He knows that if he does that, he’ll get what he wants. I also know that there is a part of me that gets hurt when he does this or that. And that sparks sadness and anger, and thoughts of revenge. I want him to hurt in a similar way that he hurt me. He took this from me, I want something in return that will make him feel loss similar to mine. Thoughts of stringing guys along into a conversation that I clearly am not interested in just to get them to fall at my feet so I can feel powerful have definitely crossed my mind. And I’ve felt myself yearn to do it, and as stated previously, I have done it, once, because I wasn’t sure I was even capable. I’ve always believed the super seductive and smooth women were the only ones that could play these cards well, and that I wasn’t one of them, because I’m not seductive or smooth. But nope, anyone can do it. And the realization that I have the capacity to want to treat guys so cruelly and selfishly repulsed me. I don’t want to be that girl. The girl that wants to use guys as an ego boost. So I judged my despicable thoughts and desires as a representation of who I am. And that’s when the trouble began, the darkness sank in. I didn’t recognize that my thoughts and feelings weren’t directly linked to who I am, and then I began to fear and despise myself. You can run away from people you don’t like, but you can’t run away from yourself.
However, I’ve come to realize I’m not my thoughts and feelings. I didn’t act on my desire for revenge or control. Those are just thoughts and desires. It’s what you do with them that matters. And while it is necessary to acknowledge those thoughts and feelings, that is all they are, indicators that something someone did meant something to you, that it hurt, and that it’s upsetting. And that it’s ok to be sad and upset, regardless of the context. They are a reflection of how I feel, not who I am.
Everyone has feelings, but it’s what we do with them that defines who we are.
I put so much shame on myself for even feeling those feelings and having those thoughts, that I convinced myself I was a bad person simply because of them. Thus the cloud of darkness and confusion grew to an all consuming mass of pain, because I don’t want to be a bad person.
But silly Krista, you aren’t a bad person. You are a great person! You didn’t act on those impulses, you stuck with your standards of integrity, honesty, and respect even in the heat of the moment, even when you were afraid you couldn’t do it. Trust yourself that you will do the right thing. And yes, sometimes you will slip up and do the wrong thing, but a mistake is a mistake. Not anything more than something to learn form. Stop being afraid of your negative feelings, own them, but don’t incorporate them into your identity.
So who am I, based off my actions? I’m the girl that stays out late and then wakes up early the next morning because she told someone she would run with them. When I was 13 I would wake my dad up at 5:30 several times a week to go on a two mile run before school, because I wanted to join the cross country team the following year and my parents wouldn’t let me run on my own in the dark, so I got my dad to run with me. I’m also the girl that does things she isn’t 100% comfortable with, like eating out on my own without a phone or book to preoccupy myself, or taking a course knowing that I don’t like the subject matter or professor, hoping my mind will be changed. And occasionally, my tongue slips, I lash out, I send a not very well thought out text, or I get so hotheaded that I spit in someone’s favorite bottle of whiskey.
Judging myself from just a few actions with an understanding of my moral compass, I can already assess that I do my best to adhere to my values, and that I am imperfect and flawed. But I’m not a bad person. And this realization will take time to fully believe, but at this point, the dark cloud has been lifted a bit, and the sun is starting to peak through again.