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Thursday, April 21, 2016

People who influence your life

I haven't posted to this blog in a very long time, but there really isn't much in the way of my spouse's transition or my own feelings about it to report that hasn't been said before.  It's kind of just going on day to day as a normal life, like any other married couple, right? :)  This in-between stage is just a bit boring to be honest. Do we have some interesting or different issues than other married couples?  Sure, but really it's not all that different once you're settled into the day to day living and everyone in your lives has become accustomed to the situation.  Once surgery is more imminent, I'm sure I will have more to talk about.

I've been reflecting a great deal in the past few months/weeks/days about how various people come in and out of all of our lives.  I wrote this random thought last night: "Everyone who enters your life is like an actor in a play (or movie).  Every character has their part.  Length of time has nothing to do with importance.  Some are a part for a short time and have a huge impact.  Some stay for a long time but have subtle impact that you don't realize until later.  Even if you don't notice the impact of people in the moment, don't fret...if they didn't matter, it doesn't matter.  If it mattered, you will notice when you need to."

What I see in that statement is that everything in life eventually works out.  No matter what the feeling is in a particular moment,  I believe things will work out the way they're supposed to.  The people you need will find you.  That, in turn, makes me think about what we "need."  Do we need to be liked?  Do we need to be loved?  Do we need to be disliked or hated?  Do we need to have people in our lives who have the type of sickening optimism that makes me want to slap them and tell them that they're dulusional?  Do we need people who have an overwhelming negativity that drives us away?  Do we need to be able to accept new people?  Do we need to lose people?  Do we need to be made fun of?  Do we need to make fun of people?  Do we need to feel connected in some way to the human race?

I say yes to all of the above.  Is it all fun?  No, but I do feel that it all helps us grow as people and be able to empathize/sympathize with others in a way that perhaps we never could had we not experienced some particular thing.  That empathy/sympathy takes patience, understanding and above all...listening to not only what people are saying but paying attention to the tone and body language when they say it.  Every person we encounter reveals our own strengths and weaknesses.  How we handle others and their issues tells a lot about what we've learned in our lives, our choices, and our own self-esteem.  

I'm particularly reflective today because tomorrow is the anniversary of my father's death.  I'm incredibly sad and miss him so much, but right now I'm not overwhelmingly devastated like I had been in the past.  His death sent me into the worst depression of my life.  I did survive it though, and am stronger for having lived through that.  I can finally think about the good things, be grateful for the time we had and smile when I remember him.  That took a long time.

I had grown accustomed to losing people in my life growing up in the military.  It was just a part of life.  People come and they go.  Living in a place now where people simply stay forever, it's much tougher on the people I know who never left this area.  I don't blame them, they didn't have to get used to it.  I'm grateful that I had that kind of experience, even though it hurt immensely at the time.

Departures of people don't always mean it's the end of a relationship.  You never know who comes back into your life and for what reasons.  Life is funny that way.  Knowing that fact at an early age, that relationships are not always permanent have had both positive and negative effects on me.  It has made me more cautious to allow people truly into my heart too soon, which can be off-putting to those who haven't gotten to know me.  It has also has allowed me to (for the most part) be able to not cling to people who are moving on without me.  Are there exceptions to that?  Sure, I'm not perfect.  

Sometimes I wish some people could change or fit into my mold of what I need in my life.  That isn't reality.  I've come to learn, and finally starting to actually accept, that the choices people make in their lives don't necessarily reflect how they feel about me.  Just because I wish someone could (or would) change something that hurts me immensely and they choose not to doesn't mean that their choice is a reflection of their feelings about me.  Everyone has their own issues/demons/feelings/beliefs that guide them.  We all hurt or help others with our actions whether that is our intention or not.

I think about it like this...if someone would be devastated, hurt, angry, or sad because I enjoy eating bacon...well, that doesn't mean that I don't care about them if I eat the bacon.  Bacon is delicious, and I don't think I could give that up for anyone.  If that upsets them, that's their problem.  I might not talk to them about eating the bacon, and would ask them to refrain from talking about the issue because it would be upsetting for both of us.  I'm not saying all of our issues are as simple as that...I'm just saying, if someone gives me an ultimatum between them and bacon....bacon will probably win because that person doesn't really understand me at all.  :)

I've had a few friends lately who have had to deal with significant loss and stressful life situations.  I try to first listen to their feelings, but when appropriate I will attempt to impart a bit of wisdom from my life.  What I have gone through, especially with a spouse who is transgendered, has given me more strength and wisdom than I thought possible.

I won't say that having a transgendered spouse is what I imagined in my life or that it is easy.  I would say that it has forced me to face myself, my life, the people who come in and out of my life, and my feelings with a much deeper perspective and understanding that I ever imagined I was capable of.  My spouse has her moments of guilt that maybe she has hurt my life in some way.  I keep telling her that our relationship, her, me, and everyone involved in our lives has benefited from her transition.  It wasn't easy, but what great life-lesson is easy?  

I've learned more from the hardships, hurts, my own mistakes and the mistakes of others than I have from joy.  Joy is easy.  In my opinion, harship molds the strongest and bravest character a person could hope to find.  Joy is what comes in after the hardships to remind you why you put up with the difficulties in life.  It's all about balance.

Right now I am grateful for the balance of life.  I don't enjoy the hardships, but I can finally understand that something difficult that is happening in the moment is a teaching moment that I will most likely benefit from in the future.