…”So far today, I’ve done all right. I have not gossiped, lost my temper, been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or over-indulgent. I have not whined nor cursed. But I am going to get out of bed soon, Lord, and I will need a lot more help after that.”
This has been a favorite quotation for years. Several times I have tried to find the source, but still cannot pin down who first said it. Maybe the words just floated down one day into our collective consciousness; all of us realizing, simultaneously, we have issues.
There were years I spent thinking no one on the planet felt like I did, experienced life as I did. I mean, everywhere I looked people appeared to have perfect homes, families, intellects, senses of humor, dreams, goals, will power; ad infinitum. And I always wondered what the secret was to their perfection. I do not know exactly when it began to dawn on me I was not the only one who had flaws, faults, failings. It may sound laughable, but I was shocked to discover the only secret they had was keeping their imperfections well hidden.
I, on the other hand, have never been very good at concealing such things. Kind of like wearing ones shirt inside out with the label right there for everyone to see, instead of discreetly tucked away, out of sight. And as I move along in this journey, I have found the further down the road I get, the less I am able to hide much of anything. Yes, those flaws and faults are right out there front and center. I think with time and age, one can become somewhat of a caricature of ones younger self.
And at this point, I have not decided if I am dealing with a flaw, or I am on a really big forward march in freeing myself from something ingrained in me during the formative years of my life, when my brain was still just wet cement. The question I ask is, one day did I simply give myself permission to set aside those life long standards of behavior, skills developed over the years, that were used to deal with people or situations that would vex a saint; which of course, I am not.
Once upon a time, especially in my work, I had to make every effort possible to avoid conflict, to maintain an environment that was peaceful and diplomatic. I used these skills in dealing with difficult people on a personal level as well, because it was my job to keep feathers from being ruffled. I was not always successful, but my intentions and efforts were tireless. Perhaps during recent years, I decided on some subconscious level this granny had had enough, and it was time for rude folk to back off, or learn that lesson which always surprises; never mistake gentleness for weakness.
Or is this part of the aging process, and filters in my brain have begun to sag, wrinkle, or atrophy like other parts of me? Even so, if they are not nearly as attractive as in days gone by, I do not think they have become completely and totally nonfunctional. I mean, when the woman behind me at the grocery store dumped her ten pound sack of pinto beans on my loaf of bread, I did not raise my voice. No I did not. But I did point out very firmly what she had done, and that she needed to remove her beans from atop my bread. What makes me think all is not lost was when she fired back at me that her beans did not hurt my bread, and I did not pick them up and whack her over the head with them. See? Still in control.
I will continue monitoring the state of my filters. I do believe we always need to be sure we are not manifesting symptoms of other organic brain issues as we define and redefine ourselves along the way. And thankfully there are friends, family, or the medical community around us who will say if our everyday behavior is getting a little wonky. I count on them, and trust their love and care for my well-being will let me know if I change from someone who can deal confidently with people who present varying levels of difficulty, into that dread character from To Kill A Mockingbird, because none of us wants to become her. No. Definitely not her.
We could do nothing to please her. If I said as sunningly as I could, “Hey, Mrs. Dubose,” I would receive for an answer, “Don’t you say hey to me, you ugly girl! You say good afternoon, Mrs. Dubose!”