what do you owe other people?

You don’t owe other people anything.

You don’t have to justify your existence.

You’re not required to do anything you don’t want to do, and no one can make you.

While these are mostly truisms, they’re ones I struggle with. I have no idea why, or at least, no idea why still. My questionable behaviours come from ideas, patterns, and ways of being I adopted as a child. Why I haven’t been able to “put away childish things” is a puzzle.

Why am I so afraid to change, to do things differently, to think differently?

As my counsellor regularly asks me when I share a random and repetitive fear, “what do you think is going to happen?”. I also dread the follow-up question, “how likely is it that those fears will come to pass?”

My answers invariably annoy me; I’m forced to face up to the fact that my fears are irrational and unlikely. My fear of change and my unwillingness to adopt a new belief system is equally irrational.

I use her questions a lot in my day to day life; my predisposition towards anxiety moves me into the fear realm all too readily. When I analyze things logically, however, I come to see how twisted and ridiculous my beliefs actually are.

I wonder about my brain in those moments? Why is it so determined to function in this way? Life is about survival, I know this, and everything we do is supposed to be connected to that, so how did I get it so wrong?

We really do like our habits. We really do dislike change.

You don’t owe other people anything.

You don’t have to justify your existence.

You’re not required to do anything you don’t want to do, and no one can make you.

I don’t have to say “yes” if I don’t want to. I don’t have to make decisions based on what would be best for other people.

Looking out for myself isn’t selfish.

I don’t have to be what other people expect.

I don’t have to conform to a pattern.

I don’t have to let my fears win.

I’ve learned a lot from my life experiences, but often, I came away with incorrect conclusions. When I was being bullied, I didn’t learn that sometimes, people can be assholes, I learned that I was fundamentally flawed and that’s why I was being attacked.

When I was sexually assaulted, I didn’t learn that it’s okay to fight, and protest, and say no, I learned that men can be scary and do things that hurt you and mostly, they get away with it, so I should be ever-vigilant and trust no one.

When I lashed out in anger, I didn’t learn that I wasn’t perfect and that was okay, I learned that I wasn’t perfect and that made me wrong.

My default setting is to place blame on myself. It’s not conducive to a good or peaceful life. Relearning the lessons takes time; it’s hard to rewire a brain. It takes times and practice and it’s bloody fatiguing. You can get there, however. People do it all the time.

You don’t owe other people anything.

You don’t have to justify your existence.

You’re not required to do anything you don’t want to do, and no one can make you.

8 thoughts on “what do you owe other people?

  1. Such a powerful post, and one that I really relate. Those coping skills that allowed the child I was to survive, do not protect me or allow me the freedom to enjoy quality of life as an adult.

    But, neurons the fire together, wire together. Meaning the neural pathways that allowed me to survive trauma, are still wired together. Neuro plasticity (neural rewiring) takes repeatedly practicing new and uncomfortable behaviours. If only it was easy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. agreed. when they tell you it will “take a while” they don’t tell you how long that might be. it’s frustrating – it seems like wiring myself up this way took no effort at all, though that probably isn’t true.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.