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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Finals

35 years ago this weekend I walked up an aisle in a Moravian Hall and got my HS diploma. It had been a hectic last week, as a teacher had misplaced my end-term project and I scrambled to replace it, only for it to reappear; we'd sat final exams for the first 3 days of the week, always wretched; and there was tension abounding in my family and home.

One of the finals was a self-evaluation of where you thought you were as a person and how well you thought you knew yourself. It was a tricky thing, but stamped itself indelibly in my head, and somewhere along the line I began taking an annual inventory of myself in June. It's end of the year finals time again.

It seems to me that no matter how well you know yourself, there's always more to reveal. This year I discovered an unpleasant fact: if I'm not happy in a relationship or situation I'll undermine it or otherwise ruin it so I can get out of it. Kind of along the lines of, "If a guy treats you badly he wants you to break up with him," but different. I can think of 2 job situations and at least 2 personal relationships where I did this. I wanted out, saw no other way, and went about getting myself extricated by being a bad person. What a cowardly, crappy way to go! It's tough to own up to it and not a trait I want to keep. But seeing it in myself I also see that others have done it. Again, I ain't unique.

My bad habits pop up when I'm very unhappy. You can't avoid unhappiness, but you can avoid taking it out on yourself. And others.

And finally, I'm seeking to kill my inner martyr. I'm all too willing to suffer "for the sake of others"- repugnant even to type that. And somehow tied into all of the above. I'll fight for others, stand by others, but there's no joy in suffering for others. If it comes to suffering, it's time to exit. And not in a cowardly way.

There are good things, too. I've developed quite a bit more patience and I'm relatively fearless now. I have confidence. I value the people in my life more than ever. It becomes easier to cut losses and know when & where to draw lines. I still have the amazement at beauty and nature and lots of the attributes that that 17 year-old girl had. These are good traits I want to foster better.

So there it is. Another layer of the puff pastry in my head examined. I wonder what next year will bring.

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