A year ago this would have been devastating news to me. I had assumed there was a book floating around that I just hadn't gotten my hands on yet that told people how to do life. My hopes were hinged on getting access to this book so that I would know what to do and how to do it. The realization that there is no book should have devastated me, scared me and made me feel cheated. What happened instead is that I feel free. The sweet freedom that you feel when you know that you can't let anyone down because there is no right way.
We seem to have all these rules for ourselves. Rules like don't eat with your hands, don't make others upset, don't say certain things around certain people. Don't let your kids jump on the furniture, don't let your friends borrow money, don't ever under any circumstances stop talking to or turn your back on your family. Don't swim after eating, don't have dessert before dinner, and don't step out of your expected role in relationships. Who made these up? Why do we follow them? Do I really need a fork? If I did, why is is possible for me to eat with my hands without the fork? Isn't it fun to jump on couches? Will they really get hurt if they are jumping up and down on the fluffiest thing in the room? Can't I say what I really feel whenever I want and does it really matter what order dinner and dessert come? I really don't even have to follow the law if I don't want to. People choose that everyday. Everyday I am free to choose whatever I want to do.
The truth is that I don't have to do anything that others expect me to do. I can do whatever I want. The catch? I may have to deal with consequences. Dirty hands, broken couch springs, more ice cream less veggies, upset people that we care about. I've spent my whole life thinking that there was right and wrong. I know no that that isn't true. There are choices and consequences. Right and wrong imply that we are able to judge and know what is best for everyone. Not true. I have no idea what is best for anyone. The only heart mind and soul I know is my own. I am appointed guardian of my children and as such must guide them and let them face consequences but I cannot judge. If you would have told me a year ago that I would want to give up my perceived power to judge other people I would have said no way. That false sense of power made me feel good. I could decide what was right and wrong and judge your actions accordingly. And on the flip side, you could do the same for me. Well I happen to believe now that I do what I need to do and you do what you need to do and that we really can't judge why because we are not each other. Never have you spent a day in my skin with my experiences and history. You have no idea.
Three things have happened to me lately that reinforced my opinion that I am free to choose and so are you, without judgement. I attended a funeral where the consequences of someone's actions caused their death. I expected judgement, disappointment, and anger from those that loved them. Instead there was love. An overabundance of love, acceptance, sadness, and understanding. To be in a room so filled with a consequence (death and sadness and loss) and no judgement felt like freedom and love. I always want people who come into my life to feel that way in my presence.
I read the book "The Shack" by WM. Paul Young. In the book, Mack has an experience where he gets to spend some time with his God. God lovingly tries to convey to Mack that he cannot be the judge, as a human. That only God can judge because only God can know the true hearts of people, their pain, their experience, their consequences. At one point in the book, Mack, the main character is asked to save two of his children and to let three go unsaved. He has reasons to be upset with his children because of some of their choices but he cannot choose one over the other. He understands then that he cannot be the judge and does not want to be the judge.
I have been practicing some new behaviors in my therapy. One of them is learning how to make myself as important as I've made others. This requires listening to myself, knowing what I need and want. Well I'm trying to do that and am feeling good about listening to me. The consequence is that other people might feel like I'm being selfish, or that I don't consider their needs. So I think that it is true that there is some selfishness in making me matter. And there are times when I fight for myself without thinking of others because I don't always know how to do both. Going back to my therapist knowing that I'm considering me but also having consequences meant that I wasn't doing it totally right. Instead of being judged for how I am going about this change, I was met with understanding, non-judgement and encouragement that I would someday soon be able to make myself matter and also be able to consider others so that we both win. No right and wrong, just choices, consequences and freedom.