Life Lessons

The more lessons I learn throughout my life, the better I feel about myself each day. I don’t have a perfect approach to everything, and I don’t expect myself to. I am a human being, and like all humans I make mistakes. I try to make amends with people if that happens, and sometimes we can start over, and sometimes we cannot.

One lesson I learned this past weekend is that my coping skills are not the same as everyone else’s. This can work for me, and against me. I carry a lot of baggage and it makes certain things that are easy for other people, very hard for me. On the same token if someone doesn’t know how to cope with something, I can lend advice or listen and understand.

I don’t hold it against anyone if they have had an easy life, and don’t know how to handle something they have never experienced before. We cannot pull wisdom out of thin air – it comes from life lessons. Having been through things which have had the kind of effect on me that a terminal illness would, my approach to someone else’s pain is to understand it too well. To feel it in the worst way possible. It’s one thing to die once. It’s another thing to almost die multiple times, because I know that after I survive, I have to look death in the face again.

What I hold against people, is using my personality as a weapon against me, and failing to understand my background. I have been unloved, abused, clinically depressed, I have slept in a car, I have not been able to pay bills, and keeping my guard up is the one thing that keeps me alive. My life has taught me that if I fight, if I don’t take shit from other people, I will live to see another day. My resilience, my aggression and my intensity are who I am, and nothing to be shamed for. I will never tell anyone to be someone other than who they are. I deserve the same respect.

The greatest lesson I learned halfway through my life, is what it means to be a friend. My best friend of the last fourteen years has stood by my side and let me be who I am. I have done the same for her. Most of the time we spend together is on her terms, because she needs more space than me. When we pull into a parking lot, she parks as far from other cars as possible so that her’s doesn’t get hit. I’m smart enough to understand that anxiety is not easy to live with, and arguing with her just to walk a shorter distance from car to store will hurt her feelings. I can stand to walk an extra twenty feet. There are times when I have to say, “No, Christina”, because I’m the only person she knows who can say it in a way that will be firm, but diplomatic.

Another lesson I learned about friendship is that some friends will suck the air out of your lungs, and never give it back. Facing a terminal illness is hard, believe me, I’ve been in that place. Even explained that I’ve been in that place. No matter what I say or do, I am pushed away. Then I am randomly pulled back from his fear of being alone. Then I am pushed away again. Finally, I call him out on it, and my personality is targeted. My only alternative now is to stop talking to this person completely. He may not realize it at first, but over time, he will realize that I am not there. It will play over in his head multiple times, and I still will not be there. Then, and only then, will he understand what it felt like for me to be alone. To face things and fight for things alone, as I have done too much in my life. If this is the last lesson he learns, so be it. Sometimes being a friend also means doing what is best for them, even if it means they have to get their feelings hurt.


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