"A penny for your thoughts." (Sir Thomas More, 1522)
I have never been one to hold back on what I think. I'm sure this lack of censor is a genetic predisposition from my Mother's side of the family. While my Father, and his heritage, held stoic as a valued emotional state, Mom and her family always seemed to tell it like it is, at least from their point of view. Expressing myself has always been something at which I've excelled. Whether in written form, or from my big fat mouth, words always just seem to flow from me, especially at the most inappropriate of times. I have always been cursed, and blessed, with this character trait. My entire life, this inability to shut my cakehole got me in a lot of trouble. Most times, it has served me quite well.There is something to be said for being blunt and uncensored. Granted, as an adult I have learned to hold back and moderate my opinions and/or responses, but there are still many situations which call for a succinct relay of how I think and feel about something. It is through self-control that one builds an inner "editor", helping one discern what to say or not to say. The experiences from my life have taught me many things and from them I have become very strong. This strength guides my decisions, harnesses my anger and is the greatest form of self-preservation. It protects me and adapts to each situation, mimicking what is needed. It shields me from harm, both from others and myself. Strength, this internal fortitude, has made of me a force to be reckoned with. I don't take well to bullshit or the people who tend to dump it all over the place.
People actually believe that just because one is spiritual, leading a God-based life versus a Me-based life, that the same mortal limitations no longer apply to them. They must be above being human. As if any man (or woman) of God is not as human and limited as any other person on this planet would be. Just because one's life focus is beyond their human nature, does not mean that they exist outside their human nature. No matter how I rise above, I am constantly reminded how truly human I still am. No matter how others try to convince me I don't see things that way, I stand firm on my awareness. I am always cognizant of how limited most other people can be, and of course, I tend to be so myself, at times. Frankly, most often people make it so that I just couldn't care less.
There is a huge difference between expressing your thoughts and attacking someone with words. One does not automatically measure the other. There is also a huge deviation between your opinion and the truth. The two rarely go hand in hand. It's a simple notion, the idea of saying what you mean instead of what you feel at the moment, or even what you think at the time. It is the difference between night and day, between wrong and right. You have to learn to edit. You have to discern, to judge what to say rather than simply catching pennies.
"Don't you recall what your Mama told
You've got to learn hot from cold
When you're afraid that you might get burned
Where do you turn?
You've got to know who to
Who not to listen to
You've gotta know who to
Who not to listen to
They're gonna hit you from all sides
Better make up your mind
Who to, who not to listen to"
(Who To Listen To, Amy Grant 1985)
If to be a child is to see without judgment, then to be an adult is to thrive in bias. We spend so much time perceiving others through our own sense of reality that we forget how truly human we all are. The most righteous man still sins in secret. The greatest saint was as flawed as the rest of us. The soaring angel will always have a fall. People are not perfect and I believe we never can be. This does not mean that I have to take your crap or make allowances for your limitations. Neither should one have to for me.
As a boy growing up, my Mother taught me that I have the right to stand up for myself. My youth and naïveté limited my ability to do so correctly. My Father taught me that what others think matters little in the larger scheme of things and that not responding, in itself, is as great a weapon as any words spoken in self-defence. In high school, I did not tolerate any deviation from what I considered acceptable personal or social conduct towards me. If you acted, in my opinion, inappropriately then the gloves were off. I reacted by impulse, never once holding myself to the same standards I expected from others. I would catch another's "penny" and then would whip my entire roll right at their face. While this behaviour usually made things much worse for me, the only thing that mattered was if I thought I was right. Damn the consequence.
Moderation was never my strong suit. This may have had something to do with the imbalance caused by my Bipolar disorder, but in truth, I was always this way. I seem to operate best within the black or the white. I still do not wear grey well. I have functioned in these extremes, never once considering how it made others feel or what their reaction may end up being. I could not have given a shit less. Therefore, I said what I wanted, believed what I wanted and rarely, if ever, took another into consideration. Screw empathy and compassion; for me, you would get what you paid for.
Fully grown, and I am often still caught by surprise at how nasty I can be. It is still all or nothing for me, most of the time. I suppose a life of hardship has made me slightly intolerant of others' faults, but to be frank, if people left me out of their drama I wouldn't have to tell them to go fuck themselves. I've tried the "good guy" approach, handling each situation with patience and understanding. People still pitch pennies and they sting when they make contact. I've tried the "spiritual approach", allowing the force within me to reach out with that compassion and empathy. More often than not, I end up choking on all that change. There are no pennies from heaven.
Those limitations we all have are hard to overlook when you're the one under attack. It is difficult for me to let go of the idea that the only way to escape the ramifications people bring into one's life, is to either be mean to them in defence, or just not bother with them at all. Simply put, if you don't compliment my life, then you complicate my life. If you don't bring quality to the table, then you bring chaos.
"Be careful when you fight the monsters, lest you become one."
If the truth be told, sometimes I still enjoy being an asshole, particularly if someone judges me. How does one not judge the judgmental? It seems to me that I would not rely on the part of me that excoriates others if there wasn't a reason to do so. If you're going to condemn me, then you, as far as I am concerned, deserve everything you get. It has always been a challenge for me to hold back, even when I should just walk away. Fighting back can be such a waste of time and I know that it always works both ways. It serves little purpose. People rarely stop to think about the consequences of complicating rather than the productivity of complimenting. Screaming about it never seems to do any good.
I seldom start a fight. I can count on one hand the times, over my entire life, when I drew first blood. If you strike out at me, I may smash you in the face. If you attack me, I may not hesitate to put you in your place. This is my makeup, it is who I am. I have little tolerance for stupidity, or bullying, or ignorance, and although I may not throw the first punch, rest assured I will probably hit you until you submit or just run away. While I appreciate the input of another, if you are going to chuck pennies, be prepared for me to pick them up and ram then down your throat. I will not allow anyone to step all over me, not now, not ever. I get to choose which way I take, not you.
I believe in the intent, not in the action. It is not so much in the doing that I reason we are righteous, but in the trying we are virtuous. Jesus may have told us to turn the other cheek, but eventually we run out of flesh for bruising. Just because I have a spiritual foundation in my life does not mean I am going to waste more time worrying about what others think. If you act out against me, I have the right to defend myself. If you continue to do so, even after you have been put in your place, then I have the right to desert you, to walk away and not look back.
I am not impulsive in this nature. It takes a long time for me to lose my temper and usually someone must push way past my boiling point for me to flow over. These days, I seem to be able to discern what to say and whether it is worth doing so. I am sure that I know who to and not to listen to. The Spirit within me has given me self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Self-control dictates denying yourself and thus controlling your impulses, not disregarding, or not reacting or not having those impulses. Through self-discipline we control our behaviour, not rid ourselves of it. I recognize that "those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind" (Dr. Seuss), but I can only bite my tongue for so long. Eventually, it will fall off.
"I tried to be your brother
You cried and ran for cover
I made a mess, who doesn’t?
I did my best but it wasn’t enough ...
I’ll give you something you can cry about
One thing you should try it out
Hold a mirror shoulder high
When you’re older look you in the eye
When you’re older look you in the eye"
(You Run Away, Barenaked Ladies, 2010)
Recently, someone close to me pissed me right off. They kept going and going, almost provoking my wrath to come forward. I let them know, with little doubt or question, my level of perturbed. The next day, they asked me if my medication for the treatment of my chemical disorder was working properly. Of course, I was the one with the problem. This is a prime example of how people think that because you react at all you are medically, or spiritually, compromised. What the fuck do I have to do with anyone acting like an asshole? Deflection is a coward's tool. I think the fact that I didn't punch them right in the mouth, or toss them out a window, validates that I have much control. Perhaps, if I am to control myself in the appropriate manner you should practice what you're bitching about. There is nothing worse than a hypocrite. People really do lay down their own rules thinking they apply to everyone but themselves. If you can't follow the very standards you set for others, then you may need to re-examine just who you are listening or not listening to.People are strange, quite often. They ask for your opinion, or incite a response, as if tossing coin like a symbolic form of invitation. When they don't get what they want from the exchange, it is always the other person who is the moron. It matters little to me whether you agree with me or not on these points. The point is I have the right to disagree and express my opinion, just as you do. Granted, I must control myself, exercising a moderate and appropriate response. Of course, there is a simple solution to all this. If you don't like what I say in reply, that's all good and well, but I'm not the one pitching pennies.