In 2017, a lot changed for me. The year started quietly without much going on. Emotionally, things were about as even-keeled as they had been in a while. Maybe that wasn’t a good thing and something needed to change.
On Spring Break, we visited the Smoky Mountains and really had a good time. It was probably the best family trip we’d ever taken. A few weeks after returning from our trip, a lot changed for me. A friend who I mostly interacted with online, but someone whom I respected and considered a friend nonetheless, suddenly unfriended me, not just online but in real life. Ultimately, I felt as if I had been treated like garbage. I won’t go into details here, but this sent me into a debilitating depression. Add a few other relationship issues and a few other losses and by June I was down in a deep, deep hole.
As the year wound down, I was still slowly climbing out of the hole, but generally felt better most of the time.
So with that, below are a few of the biggest things I learned in 2017.
I’m Not Responsible For Others
I learned that while I am responsible to do whatever I can as a committed husband to make my wife happy and make sure she is taken care of, ultimately I can’t be responsible for whether she is happy or not. In other words, if I have done everything I possibly can to make her happy and she’s still not happy, then I’ve fulfilled my responsibility as a husband.
With that understanding that I am responsible for my wife, I have come to realize that I absolutely and unequivocally am in no way responsible for any other adult (and any children who are not mine for that matter). Don’t misconstrue my point here. I’m not saying I can’t help others. What I’m saying is if you are trying to place responsibility on me for your happiness and you are not my wife, then I’m sorry, I do not accept that responsibility nor should I.
It’s extremely unhealthy for anyone to try to place that type of burden on another person and when someone tries to manipulate another by exuding their negative emotions onto them in an attempt to get something from them, e.g. happiness, it becomes emotional manipulation and subsequently emotional abuse. This happens all the time, but if you take anything from this, take this: You are not responsible for that other person, whether it be a family member, long time friend, or colleague. Love them, help them, pray for them, but you are not required to take responsibility for them.
Not Everyone Cares About Me
I usually build relationships with people quickly and deeply, if my heart desires. This year I came to realize that every now and then I meet someone and even though there may be a friendship there, they just don’t care about me or for me, and really could care less if I exist. This reality saddens me, especially when it comes to people with whom I share the same faith (since our 2nd duty in our faith is to love people and not outcast them like an animal who has no feelings).
Upon reflection though, it struck me. This is just the way some people are. To them, I am nothing and there’s nothing I can do about that. Perhaps people are just caught up in their world or caught up in becoming someone bigger and better. Who knows and honestly who cares. I’m not going to waste my time and energy walking on egg shells for people like this when they would drive a bulldozer over me in a heartbeat.
Life will go on and I’ll surround myself with people who: 1) Want to treat me like a precious gem; 2) Want a 2-way friendship with me; 3) Are interested in me; and 4) Accept the love that I have to offer them.
Sadness Can Be a Good Thing
I spent the entire Summer of 2017 sad and depressed. The reasons why I was sad aren’t the focus of this post, so there’s no need to go over all of that. While my sadness debilitated me some days and crippled me others, some great things came out of it.
- I began writing like I never had before. The creativity that had typically remained trapped within me, only being released through some visual works was now also being released through writing. Writing became quite therapeutic and expressive for me.
- I got very focused on exercise and used it as a means of escape for my emotions. Not only did I get in good shape, but it provided me something about myself that I could feel good about when there was nothing else to feel good about.
- I took a deeper look at myself and learned a lot more about why I am the way I am. I could go into some of the socionics stuff here, but ultimately this deep dive helped me understand better why I feel the way I do or take certain actions that I take, which in turn helped me address a few issues in my life.
Nice try 2017, but not even you can keep me down for long and even if you could, I’d do great things while I was down there!