Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Fluffy Little Fantasy World of Self-Preservation

We all mess up.  It's a fact of life.  We all have those moments that make us want to bury our head in the sand.  But I think the way we handle our screw-ups says a lot about our character.  There are some people who, after wrongly hurting another, will choose to eliminate any and all parts of their life that remind them of that mistake.  A few years ago, for example, Clint and I had a friend who decided to walk out on his marriage.  Despite our disappointment in his decision, we decided that our friendship with him was unconditional, and we chose to loyally stick by him.  But as time passed, he could no longer handle being around us.  Even though we never brought up the past, we were a constant, sore reminder of the person he no longer wanted to be.  So he washed his hands of our friendship, and we have never talked to him since.  My view on this?  He was a coward.  Instead of facing up to his demons, he chose to bury them as if they never existed and live in a perpetual state of denial, even to the point of obliterating a fifteen year friendship to maintain this denial.  Many people do this.  They make mistakes and, not having the courage to cope with them, will eliminate all reminders of their "old" self; the self that made the shameful mistake...all so they can live in their fluffy little fantasy world of self-preservation.

Then there is that other kind of person.  He or she makes mistakes just like anyone else (let's go with "he" because the he/she combo gets wordy, and I'm not some woman's-libber who thinks that the generic "he" is offensive) .  But the difference is this particular person will go through hell and high-water to atone for his wrong doings, even if this means awkward (or even painful) confrontations with the people he has hurt.  He will never choose to eliminate those from his life who remind him of his shameful acts, because he refuses to cower like some dog with his tail between his legs.  Nor does he seek to make life "better" or more "comfortable" for himself, because he knows that true peace only comes from seeking forgiveness from those who he has offended, even if that forgiveness is never achieved.

The self-preservationist is the easiest kind of person to be.  It doesn't take much effort to hide from your shame or to pretend you don't care.  It doesn't take much effort to patch up your own life and seek out your own happiness while simultaneously pretending ignorance at the shambles you have left in your wake.  Nope...not much effort at all.  So if you have succeeded in this endeavor, good for you.  Good for you for choosing the easy path.  Good for you for adopting the philosophy "ignorance is bliss."  Because, let's face it, life can outright suck for the person who actually confronts his mistakes.  It can be excruciating to force yourself to have conversations you don't want to have, or to admit over and over again that you are a fallible human being who screws up.  But the road with the most character isn't usually the smooth effortless freeway, is it?  Hell no.  It's the rough, bumpy trail full of ditches and potholes.  It's the road that leaves you battered and weary by the time you reach your destination, but you come out of it with a little more wisdom and a lot thicker skin.  You come out of it with a thing that's overrated in today's society: Integrity.


  1. I really, really want to say something here but I'm a little bit conflicted. I think you know, from experience, that I've been both of those people. Not making a blanket statement here, but when I was the first, the one who runs away, I really was young and really naive. What looks like running away on the outside, looks completely different on the inside. It's delusional, but there you go.

    When I was the second, the one that faces up to what they've done, I was older and my skin was already thicker. Thick skin makes it easier to face the problems, whatever they are, or however much they hurt. Age and experience help, too, so does knowing what it's like to be the kind of person who has run away. It's not easy to be that person, knowing your choices to make yourself more comfortable have hurt other people. When I grew-up, went back, and tried to face the problem, even though it wasn't easy it was out of the realization that I'd been selfish.

    Also, running away doesn't solve the problem for the person running away. They, in my case I, never forgot the way being a self-preservationist felt. I don't think I ever will and maybe that's a result of being young and stupid, but that whole mess really impacted my life.

    That's my take, from experience, and since I'm not sure what prompted this post, I hope it wasn't offensive. If it was, I apologize in advance.

  2. I know you needed to write this Jodi, and good for you. Very well stated.

    Kristyn, I am not sure why she would find anything offensive about your comment since it appears as if you two are in agreement.

  3. I'm so glad you chimed in on this one Kristyn, because you more than anyone can empathize with what it feels like to wash your hands of the past. I agree, age and experience can play a huge role in how a person deals with their mistakes. If what transpired back then were to occur today, you likely would have the wisdom and experience to actually confront your opposition head-on. I actually feel confident saying this, because it seems many of our past conversations have shown this to be true. I confronted you with some difficult questions a year or so ago, and you never once tried to skirt the issue or avoid confrontation. But back when you were 20, at such a young age, it felt like the whole world was against you, and running away seemed like the only viable option. You can't fault yourself over the fact that there was a time when you ran away from your problems, because you are not that same person today. Even I myself have cowered from confrontations in the past. But that is not the person I want to be today.

    Thanks, Shannon. :)


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