Seeking My Best Self

trying to make sense of my life – and lose some weight

Oops – You Weren’t Supposed to See That

on June 18, 2013
textConfession time:

The motivating force behind Seeking My Best Self – behind my recent quest for optimal health (and looks) – was a series of texts that were accidentally shared, ones I was never supposed to see. The content? A quite unflattering conversation about me. I was devastated. It undermined the relationship I had with this person. It still does.

Worse, it colored my view of myself and my other relationships. If one friend could speak so poorly of me, what did others say? I knew it wasn’t healthy, that I needed to just let it go. The problem was, I didn’t know how. How could I ‘move on’ when I felt betrayed, unloved, unlovable?

So I embarked upon a journey of radical self-improvement to ‘prove’ to them and to myself that I was better than their opinion of me.

So now you know. But while that was my original motivation, it isn’t my current one – well, not as much. You see, I’ve discovered that my friend is not the enemy. I am. Their unkind words affected me so deeply because I’ve been negligent in self-nurture, falsely naming it ‘self-indulgence’. I’m not alone – it’s a pervasive attitude in our society. I discussed this in an earlier post: It isn’t Virtue, it’s Addiction.

Self nurture is not narcissism. It’s my job to seek and to be my best self. To know myself and be grounded, so that when another person is unkind, I am unmoved. (Though probably still a little hurt. Let’s be real.)

I’m not trying to eliminate all my faults: that’s impossible. Even the Christ had a temper. What I am trying to do is to own myself. What others think of me is not my concern. What I think of me is.

This was driven home by a recent article in the New York Times. Essayist Tim Kreider wrote an article about an experience that mirrored mine: about an email accidentally shared, and the emotional fall-out that ensued. I loved his perspective:

“This makes us embarrassed and angry and damn our betrayers as vicious two-faced hypocrites. Which, in fact, we all are. We all make fun of one another behind one another’s backs, even the people we love. Of course we do — they’re ridiculous. Anyone worth knowing is inevitably also going to be exasperating.”

Read his post, I Know What You Think of Me. It helped me to forgive my friend. To forgive myself.

But I still want to lose 20 lbs and be firm and strong. Weight, weight go away! Don’t come back ANY day!

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6 responses to “Oops – You Weren’t Supposed to See That

  1. Lesli says:

    Thought provoker this morning, my friend! I too once got a series of emails that were never intended for my eyes … during that whole “last career” fiasco. Yep, it hurts. Knowing people who once loved you and whom you trusted, would turn their backs on you in a heartbeat when the tide turns. After many months of confessing to a good friend, “I just don’t understand why they would have turned against me”, she finally convinced me that they were suffering from fear, doubt and insecurity. I too have been there from time to time, so I could finally understand how it happened. Some days I think I’m resting in the peace of forgiveness towards them, and then all of a sudden the serpent strikes back and it’s like a fresh bite all over again. I like your perspective on this. It’s really about self-love. It doesn’t mean I should walk blindly past a criticism someone has of me (even if I was never intended to see it), but if after self-examination it doesn’t ring true to me, then trust my own self and know that it’s not my truth… though it may be theirs and they’re entitled to it. You, my friend, are fearfully and wonderfully made … and I am blessed to call you ‘friend’.

  2. Neil says:

    Your new blogicle is such a common occurrence, really … isn’t it a life-long experience, continually finding out what unflattering things others think of us? And as the comment you quoted notes, it’s not exactly like we don’t think/say the same things of others, is it?

    I was reminded of the part late in Lois McMaster Bujold’s book “Memory”, where the character Miles considers an offer of returning to the Dendarii Mercenaries … his creation of “Admiral Naismith” rides again … only to realize it’s a bribe/distraction .. and then comes to some critical self-realizations:

    “I am who I choose to be. I have always been what I chose … but not always what I pleased.” Amazing and accurate view of most of anyone’s life, that … really.

    Coupled with his mother Cordelia’s axiom and corollary: “When you choose an action, you choose the consequences of that action.” And: “When you desire a consequence you’d damned well better take the action that would create it.” (Slightly paraphrased for applicability to now.) Author Bujold’s sense of wisdom here is amazing … wonder if her own life has benefited from her character’s written gems? Interesting question, no?

    And moments later, in the book: “I elect to be … myself.” Wise, though we mostly spend time I think trying to be someone other than ourselves, realistically. But we can’t ever be other than ourselves, so wow, do we waste time, effort, and internal emotions …

    “But my future’s gonna be short unless I do something … ” Though we’re not looking at Mile’s situation vis a vis hte head of Imperial Security, still … our future as ourselves will be very short … infinitesimally so … unless we do something about being ourselves, won’t it?

    And though we think we know people, to paraphrase another character’s comments about figuring out motivations, it pays to realize how little we really know of the internal workings of another mind … I love that characters quote on motivations of the people he’d investigated, on “why”: ” …the hardest (question) to answer. Where, what, how who … for those I could at least sometimes make physical evidence speak. Why was almost theological, and often proved beyond my scope.”

    And then, when Miles meets with the group of independent Imperial auditors (investigators), discussing his error of lying to about nearly killing someone (accidentally but with horrid judgement) … and the aftermath … in light of the aforementioned bribe and his decision not to accept it, even though he could have taken the bribe and ‘lived’ to re-create his Little Admiral: “Someone might have survived, with my name, in my body. It wouldn’t have been me, anymore. It would have been a man I didn’t much … like.” Queried: “You value yourself, do you, Lord Vorkosigan?” Response: “I’ve learned to.” Answer: “Then so, perhaps, shall we.” This passage is an amazingly perceptive passage really about the meaning of living one’s own life, even with the way one wins actual respect and value from others. If we don’t truly value ourselves, honestly and properly, how in heck is anyone else supposed to do so?

    But the finest wisdom of this book is a few pages earlier, when asked by his friend and Emperor Gregor, why he didn’t take the offered bribe of returning to the Dendarii Mercenaries as Admiral: “I don’t … quite know how to put it. Some prices are just too high, no matter how much you may want the prize. The one thing you can’t trade for your heart’s desire is your heart.”

    I have always mentally linked those bits I’ve quoted above, and a bit at the end of Wizard of Oz where Dorothy realizes that … “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with.”

    We are always and only ourselves, what we are … and yet, so often, not what we try to be. A pity and a waste, really. We spend so much time running from ourselves trying to be “somebody” when we’d actually get some place worth being if we’d be ourselves first. Love your blog, of course.

  3. Ryan T says:

    letting others define you through their comments or opinions is always a struggle, at least i have found it to be so. Because of abuse early in life i have struggled a lot in my life with self esteem, being confident in myself not to let others opinions make me doubt myself. I think i have grown enough in my life now to say i am secure in who i am, but doubt can still make me second guess myself at times. Like Lesli said, self examination (in my case listening to my heart) and asking “does this ring true to me” does help me back on the right path. Great post Cherie 🙂

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