A thinner skin
Of late, I have been more open; inviting. I’d like to add honest and kind, but perhaps not.
I’ve always been a bit on the isolationist side. There have been times of many friends and times with few. Of close involvement and cavernous distance. The two parameters operate independently.
Two years ago I was hurt badly as a close friendship ended. I no longer believe in absolutes or permanence. Everything fades. Everyone will drift away. Love those you can while you can. New people might arrive, but nothing lasts forever.
Perhaps one day I’ll look back on this as sad; that I had to accept this in order to survive. But for me, now, it’s an incentive: not to take my life for granted. To truly know people for who they are; and not be bitter – or hold on too tightly – when life finally leads us apart.
As I began to learn that first lesson, I learned another: I had stopped being a good person. There was a time when I reached out to the world. Asking for reasons. Searching for people who understood. I was so lost. I was such a good person – because I understood what it was to feel damaged.
Eventually I found some answers. I found some people who understood. I healed myself. I was still a decent enough human being, but a careless one. I forgot what it was like, when you’re not so far along in your journey.
I met someone. With such a shell around them; a barricade around the person they truly were. When I saw past the defenses to the innocent person behind, I realized I didn’t know how to behave anymore. I had forgotten how to care. I wasn’t callous so much as clueless.
I learned a lot from that. Or perhaps: I realized how much I’d forgotten. It was hard to learn that. To realize, then accept.
I needed to be a better me.
I tried to do all the things you’re supposed to do: listen, support, understand, care, the usual. I learned from others. I became more in tune with myself. (It always sounds so easy, but it never is) I liked myself better and, perversely, found I needed other people less. My own barricades came down a little; my thick skin thinned. Of late, what you see is closer to what you get.
I’ve also been remembering why my skin thickened in the first place. For a writer who spends his time recording what has been, I live in the now a little too much. I forget a lot.
People are assholes. (How’s that for an absolute) Trying to be an open person leaves you vulnerable. Is it any wonder that the more sensitive among us are the ones hurt most easily? Those two parameters are also unrelated.
People are forever taking advantage of a kind and forgiving nature. And some people are just dumb. Too clueless to realize how bad they’re hurting others.
I suppose my challenge is to try to remain passionate and sincere despite the barbs tossed at me. It doesn’t make daily life any easier, yet I tell myself it’s worth it – that I don’t want to slip back into a careless dismissal of things; of people. When I look back on this, will I think it naïve? Will I even understand anymore?
I will love those I can, while I can. I will love myself. I will try to remember my lessons learned. I will try to deal with all the cruel humans. And I will try to be my own person, despite the consequences.