"It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things." Theodore Roosevelt
Time heals most wounds. As I progress further into adulthood those words ring true. Much of the things that used to bother me, be on my mind, or take up my time don't anymore simply because most of them are temporary. Temporary issues warrant a proportionate response, oftentimes acknowledging it exists, and minimizing it. Oftentimes issues truly get blown out of proportion when with a little bit of time their impact is short-lived. If things only last a little while then those things really don't need to matter that much. Having more time to focus on what does matter means making the most of that time in the best of ways. Happiness by way of healing I am realizing happens when I'm not paying attention. One day heaviness is on my heart, I process through it, learn from it, and depart from it, but still a bit of weight remains, at least on my mind. As days go by I forget I'm supposed to be concerned about it or people. Something or someone else has occupied that space. It's not just refilling emptiness, it's remodeling spaces entirely for new purposes.
That's a distinct difference. It's not filling a void, it's rebranding that feeling as something more benevolent. In practice, it looks like me no longer thinking about people of the past but being at peace and remembering that I was in anguish a little while ago. It's consciousness to actively reflect on how time has deescalated things and people I thought mattered more to me. When I realize that I moved them out of my head-space so quickly it drives home the fact that I hyperbolized their importance to me. Woe unto me for all the times I exaggerated my significance in other people's lives. It's a tough reality. People can and will live without me - they have to; and it's oftentimes easier than I imagine.
The house analogy of making up a room for guest who never arrives continues to serve me well (read more about it here: Guest; and Unrequited). I know that I have to make room for new people in my life by moving out others. Some people are in my life to stay, others are guests visiting for a short stint, and others still stay longer. It's natural to have some turnover of the people who occupy our lives. It's okay to have vacancies - those are opportunities for new guests to be in residence. Often I miss the chance to connect with someone new because I was busy focusing on someone who already left. I don't believe I/we have a limit to expressing care for people, but I do think I/we have limitations on the quality of care we can give. It's natural for me to focus on those who are proximate and/or present with me. If I'm not purposeful I can forget about people. What strikes me is that there are people in my life that no matter how long it's been since we last actively spoke they are unforgettable. Those are people I don't have to worry about. I need to do my due diligence in caring about them but I am learning that it's okay to be passive in care, so I can be active elsewhere.
I find myself now making new friends because I am putting in the effort to be a full friend with them. Instead of treating them with temporariness I am building relationships with the purpose of lasting. I think for so long maintaining my established relationships has prevented me from putting in the necessary work to construct new relationships on firm foundations. Instead of view new people as guests or one-night stands, I am shifting my perspective to treat them as roommates who will live with me until one of moves away in a teary "see ya later" montage. There can be permanence there if I want it to be. Connections can last if I make them. People will stick around if I'm sticking around with them. It's about trust, and trusting people with my story. It's asking meaningful questions, listening for answers, and following up with probing questions that elicit organic responses. I get to focus on new people, discover who they are, and explore who they will be for me, and in my life. It's hopeful. It's effortful. This matters a great deal.
In that same way I'm making change to add new people to my life I am doing my best to follow through on disallowing old people to make repeat visits. People who have fallen by wayside - examining why I let them fall. People who have disappeared - and how that made me feel. People who have left abruptly - and never forgetting the impact of them doing so. Foolishness is expecting change without ever enacting it. Doing the same thing repeatedly and hoping for a different outcome is nonsensical. Change happens when I make it happen. No backslides. No take backs. No repeat offenders. Bravely, confidently, and unapologetically moving on from those who weren't who I believed them to be. People were evicted for a reason, and that reason should remain steadfast lest I be bamboozled by feigned change. People can change, but only if they want to. I am learning that I am not and should not be a reason for people to change. It should be for themselves and themselves alone.
One my favorite, and by that I mean things I vehemently disdain, is posting a life update, new content, or a selfie, and being inundated with emojis, DM, and unsolicited commentary. People's whose connection has all but withered away making a minimal effort to jumpstart that connection again. Connectivity though can only be powered when all involved put in the effort to maintain that bond. Break it on either side, and the energy just flows out. These days, I'm quick to be cordial but also kind in responding in ways that are either a non-starter, or explicitly saying I'm not quite interested in rekindling a connection. When we have the choice to change a pattern, and choose that pattern once more we are responsible for reliving the same fate. When we get to give and revoke access to others, and we permit people back into our lives, we are causing our own issues. When we make a choose to discontinue, to disassociate, and to decide, everything else conspires to make it so. All it takes is definitive action on our parts. Clarifying the ambiguity means there's only room for closure, closed doors, and closed circuits. "Heys," and "how have you beens" from recurring characters without acknowledgement of what's transpired or the time lapsed are empty pleasantries. Accepting anything else is devaluing ourselves, our self-worth, and our self-esteem. If we deserve better, then we had better only allow better. X