Yesterday was not my best day. I often write about my journey to become a better person. If you have been here before you know that I have spent the past five years changing my mindset from that of a pessimist to that of an optimist. This has led me to being a kinder, more compassionate, happier person. Until yesterday, that is. I did not just take two steps back. I took at least ten steps back.
I have worked hard on being more patient and understanding. I am more willing to give others the benefit of the doubt as to their intentions. I let things go now that in previous days I would have held fast to in stubborn resolve. Yesterday brought challenges in all of these areas. It was a day that was meant to test my commitment to the life changes I made, and I am afraid that I failed. It was a tough day that found me taking a few U-turns on the road to being better.
As a South Carolina resident, a frequent visitor to Charleston, and a human being with a heart I was saddened and agitated by the heinous church shooting that left nine innocent people dead. I spent the better part of the day trying to wrap my mind around the level of evil involved and wishing for comfort for the families of the victims. I thought about justice, and I thought about retribution. I had less than pleasant ideas of what should become of the shooter.
I had interactions with difficult people that left me feeling depleted and irritable. I learned that people who have a close and direct impact on my life once again ignored my clear requests for boundaries. This betrayal caused me to snap at the nearest target, a person who of course was innocent of any wrongdoing.
The topping on this ice cream sundae day gone wrong? I had my first unpleasant experience in the blogging community. I was advised by a fellow blogger in the comments section of his blog that I was “no longer welcome here”. Ouch, right? I will not get into the details because I have no intention of getting involved in an internet fight. I will say this- I have rules that I have implemented for myself concerning social media engagement. There are things that I will not debate with my closest friends, let alone acquaintances or strangers. It is because I would not be drawn into such a debate that I was handed my walking papers. I will respect his wishes, I hold no ill will toward him, and I will continue to interact with the hundreds of bloggers who enrich my life every day.
Suffice it to say that by the end of the day I was a jittery bundle of irritation, tense muscles, and a racing brain. I went to bed stepping on my own last nerve, slept fitfully, and woke up at 4:45 this morning with a piercing headache. As I write this there are two lasers of pain shooting from behind each of my eyes, my neck and shoulders are aching, and my jaw is twitching. I am learning something about myself today. I am realizing that I can still be triggered by outside events and people, and I am still allowing those things to influence my mindset in negative ways.
There has been progress, though, and for that I am grateful. While I did think of vile ways that shooter should be dealt with, I also paused to consider what the victims’ families would want. As peaceful, prayerful people they are likely willing to offer more forgiveness and compassion then I could muster. Thinking about that enables me to step back from my initial reactions and to try to see things through their eyes.
Yes, I did snap and allow those difficult people to alter my mood, but I did not react the way I once would have. I chose to remove myself from the conflict where it the past I would have confronted the offending parties in a counterproductive and abrasive manner. Now I accept that I cannot change their behavior, I can only change my own.
I held firm in my stance not to engage in hot-button topic debates on social media. It was tempting, I admit that, and I had to fight the urge to peck away furiously at my keyboard in response. Doing so would serve no purpose, though, and it would only leave the involved parties feeling frustrated and angry. I am saddened that I was not able to communicate in a manner that made my reason for standing down clear, but in order to move forward on this journey I must hold fast to my self-imposed rules.
Maybe it was not ten steps back after all. It might have been more like seven or eight steps back followed by two or three steps forward. Perhaps I did not make U-turns so much as I pulled into a few rest stops along the road to being better. It is possible I was making progress even as I faltered. The journey continues…
All photo credits: http://www.pixabay.com