My 2nd-to-last serious relationship was with a girl who was 16 years older than me. (I say ‘girl’ referring to her maturity level and not her age, obviously.) I’ll be referring to this girl as ‘S’ in this post. She was easily my worst relationship and I’ll probably never be happier that a relationship ended. My marriage wasn’t a disastrous relationship while it happened, it’s been disastrous only after the fact, mostly. S was the worst relationship while it happened. I used to think I gained nothing from being with her; nothing at all. But after some years have passed, I’ve come to realize there was one thing she taught me that no one else ever did.
We were having a conversation about my sister one day. I told S that my sister became outright hostile, for no rational reason, right after I was adopted, and that this hostility only got worse after we grew up. At some point, I said, “What did I do? I’ve never been a criminal, or a liar, been part of a gang, or a thief, or … whatever. Why does she act like she hates me when I haven’t done anything wrong?” S replied saying something that apparently planted a seed in my mind. She said: “Don’t you think your sister acts like this toward you because being around you makes her aware of her problems?”
I’d never thought of that before. And to my shame, I never thought of that any further, much, since then. Because I believe in giving credit where it’s due, I have to credit S for this insight.
My most defining characteristic, that anyone who knows me can easily testify to, is the fact I’m honest. I’m blunt. I don’t beat around the bush, I don’t bullshit, and I don’t say things just for the sake of making someone feel better in the moment. I prefer saying things that will help people in the long-term.
A while ago, I wrote a post here on this blog titled, What Did I Actually Do? where I vented my frustration about how more people in my personal life seem to dislike me for no reason at all. In that post, which I have since archived, I asked repeatedly, “Why can’t anyone ever say 1 horrible thing I’ve ever done? At least that would give them a good reason not to like me.” Apparently, I’m slow to learning, because S explained this to me years ago when she and I were together.
We are animals. No matter how much we try to dress it up, we are animals. Social animals. We behave based on instinct and emotions. If someone so much as looks suspicious, no amount of getting to know them will make you see them differently. That’s the animal in us. Instincts first, no matter how inaccurate our instincts assess things, and knowledge second.
It is actually unnatural for humans to behave based on knowledge and intellect and skepticism. I do, yes, think of myself as a rationalist who thinks objectively, but even if that were completely true, which it probably isn’t 100%, it’s still only because I constantly, on a daily basis, remind myself to be rational. It is a constant battle with my nature to think first, and act second. Even though I’m practically known for it, it is still something that does not come completely naturally to me.
But it is obvious that I do this far more than those around me. Most people (and I really don’t blame them for this) would prefer to just think whatever makes them happy and leave it there. When the truth comes along and says, “That thing that’s making you happy is actually completely false,” of course it makes people angry. Of course they react with utter denial. Instinctively, humans take undesired truths as outright attacks. We treat unwanted truths as something that has to be either destroyed or hidden. This is why people tend to not like me, despite the fact I’m not a bad person. They know everything I say is going to be what I actually believe. No white lies, no fibs, no dodges.
My sister has 4 children now, with different fathers, (a behavior that perfectly mimics our mother) and she’s kept her kids away from their fathers, allowing them only to visit occasionally. Just like so many women do these days, because they can. Not to mention, only one of those fathers was worth a damn, the rest were utter douche bags. What S taught me through that one sentence was: My sister knows what’s wrong with her. She knows what she’s doing is wrong and frankly trashy. But she can’t help it. Simply being around an honest, no-bullshit person like me, reminds her of what she is. I don’t even have to say anything for her to feel this way around me.
It’s why she got offended before she even told me back when she was pregnant the second time (according to our brother). I’m starting to think it’s not even personal dislike or hatred, it’s just simply being uncomfortable. Projection, even. I’m a walking mirror, and nobody wants to be reminded of their own faults. I think it makes my sister happy to get pregnant, to have children running around the house (that her adoptive-mom pays for entirely), and to then keep those kids all to herself. She does it because it makes her feel alive. Not sharing her kids enriches this feeling. But she knows it’s immoral.
Do things/Believe things that make you feel happy … or discard those things for literally any reason? Most people choose the former. I’ve observed that most people would rather be happy and scummy, than be unhappy and virtuous.
I want to talk about someone else, who wasn’t in my life for long, but who had an impact on me while she had been. I’ll refer to her as M. I was friends with M for about three years, and there was something she loved to remind me of constantly. Something that many other people, including my best friend, had loved to remind me of constantly back in the day. M liked to say, “When you have a daughter, you’re going to be the biggest softy ever.” She’d add saying things like, “If she does something bad, you’re just gonna say, ‘Oh that’s okay.'”
Frankly, when M and others said things like that, I got offended. To me, it sounded like people kept saying my daughter would turn out to be a spoiled princess. So, even though many people used to make this claim about when I’d become a father, why do I mention M? Well, I bring up M in particular because she believed it the most, and she had, back in those days, witnessed me go through some very low, dark times. I was certainly not a softy back then … and yet she was still the most convinced I’d be a softy toward my daughter.
It makes me think … maybe people actually do understand me. Those who like and those who dislike me, both. Maybe even more than I know myself. I’m a walking mirror, and yet people were able to predict I’d be a softy toward my daughter?
Now that I have a daughter, I’ve come to realize … M had a good point. She wasn’t completely right, but she was for the most part. Same with everyone else who voiced similar opinions. I have been a real softy toward my baby. I only get serious when she is about to attempt to do something dangerous. But for the most part, no matter what she does, even if it’s crying, my attitude is just, “Hey love, you’re okay,” or, “Baby, why you smackin’ dadda in da face?” My daughter hardly ever cries, and she’s not a troublemaker by any means (not any more than your typical infant), so maybe that’s a contributing factor. But to be honest with myself, I think I’m a softy toward her because … she’s my baby. It’s instinctual, but also very conscious.
Here’s where I connect this subject to how I opened this post…
With everyone else, I’m one way, but with my daughter and only my daughter, I’m something else. I didn’t think I would be, but I undoubtedly am. Why is this? Natural instinct? Of course. But I’ve done a lot of thinking about this and I’ve realized that it’s a conscious reason as well. That conscious reason is: ‘roles.’
I am my daughter’s teacher. This is true now, and it will be true even when she’s in her 20s and 30s and 40s. It will be true forever. Even after my daughter has grown, my role will never change. I will always be her guardian angel, there to protect and to guide. The important bit is ‘guide.’
To no one else on Earth does this apply. I’m a walking mirror to everybody else, from my best friend, to my ordinary friends, and even to strangers. I get frustrated with other adults, especially if they’re older than me, because I expect others to be at my level or above it. I expect others to carry my same principles, or better. And when I learn of people who don’t, I get frustrated, or annoyed, or angry. Because I’m not anyone else’s teacher. I’m not anyone else’s protector. I see myself as the equal to those around me, but I also don’t believe in special treatment. To no one else on Earth is it my job to guide them.
So, to everyone else, my attitude is, “If I can do this, so can you!”
Or, “How do you sleep at night knowing you did something like that?”
Or, “How do you not already know this?”
But to my baby girl, what I say is, “Love, you shouldn’t be demanding. Daddy will be done preparing your food very soon, okay?” By contrast, if I see another adult demanding faster service after only one minute, I’m more likely to say, “Seriously? Get a grip.”
If my daughter grows up to be a drug addict (and I had actually raised her rather than her mother stealing her to herself), I couldn’t possibly be annoyed or angry with her. I’d be disappointed … in myself. I understand that everybody is their own person; nobody is a blank slate, and nobody is a carbon copy of anyone else … but still, how a person is raised matters immensely. So, basically what I’m getting at is: despite not believing in special treatment, I believe it’s right to give my child special treatment in this regard. She’s not just somebody else, she’s under my guidance and protection. Whatever she doesn’t know, it’ll be because I didn’t teach her. Whatever she can’t do, it’ll be because I didn’t train her. (I know there are exceptions; this isn’t an absolute.)
It melts my heart whenever my daughter is exploring around and then she randomly walks back to me, gives me a hug, and then continues exploring. It’s things like this that make me confident she will be a good person. The way she looks at things, her high degree of interest in learning things … that also makes me confident she’ll be intelligent as well. I hope she grows up to be wise as well. Wiser than most. Wisdom seems to be lacking quite a bit these days. I hope she becomes wiser and smarter than me. I want to look up to her someday. In the meantime, I have to be someone she looks up to.
This may be my final post on ThinkingMichael.com. I don’t know for sure, but it might be. At first, I wanted to revamp my blog, but after archiving everything and trying to start fresh … the fire somehow burned out. Like I had previously been operating on momentum more than passion. I don’t know…. I had several posts in mind. But when I sit down to type them out….. I really don’t know. Writing books has become equally difficult. I’m getting nowhere on my books these days. Maybe my interest has actually faded. I want to do these things, but there is some kind of disconnect now… I was able to write this post about being, metaphorically of course, a walking mirror, because it’s such a large epiphany that helps me understand myself a little better. It helps me understand those around me a little better. I forced myself to write this post to help solidify this understanding. Maybe I’m more understood than I think, and maybe others understand themselves better than I thought. It still doesn’t make scummy behavior any more justified. At least it makes more sense, though.