Friday, February 4, 2011

Know Thyself

  I always seem to fall into the trap of hating myself the more I get to know myself.  I'm trying to get to a place where I can love myself, but that will take getting to know myself.  I've never been honest with myself about what's really going on inside.  I guess if I look at the examples of my parents and my aunt, I can see that they weren't being honest with themselves either.  They thought one thing while doing another.  Outwardly their acts looked bad, but they were in a place where they thought they were doing the greatest good.  My life has kind of mirrored that.
  Once, I helped a crack-addicted man become clean through the sheer power of prayer, faith and friendship.  I helped a single mother to understand the power of prayer and faith so that she could feel the inner strength she needed to raise her baby alone while working full time and going to school.  I helped a homeless man by letting him shower and shave at my house.  I bought him new clothes and helped him get a job interview.  But all this time, my only goal was to feel better about myself.  If only those people knew the true monster that exists within me, they would have cursed the day I was born.  As it is, they're living a lie perpetuated by my guise of altruism.  I tell these stories, not to stroke my ego, but to illustrate to you the depth of my ugliness.
  Honesty with oneself as well as with others is a virtue.  Someone associated with my wife used to hold his children's heads underwater to see how long they could hold their breath.  I'm deliberately being vague about the specifics of this individual since my wife never pressed charges against him for any of these incidences.  He would randomly trip his son with no prior warning or reason.  He often hit his son with the bill of his baseball cap.  He would also occasionally smash his son's head down onto a counter top as a disciplinary measure.  He is an asshole and he knows it.  He's proud of it.  He's honest with himself and with others.  I only wish I had that admirable level of honesty about who I am on the inside.
  It's only once you fully know yourself that you can change anything about yourself.  I often fool myself into thinking I'm a good person.  That's my problem.  I try to change, but I don't even know what it is I'm changing from so I have no idea how to start to change into something else.  It's almost as if I'm trying to paint my tail purple without even realizing that I have no tail.
  The biggest problem is that I mistakenly believe that there's nothing I have to change about myself.  Then, the second biggest problem is that when I find out something bad about myself, I get down in the dumps and stop believing that I have the power to change myself.  The chaplain I spoke with said something that struck me as wise.  He said that he lives by three guiding principles: 1. I'm not right about everything.  2. That means there's something I'm wrong about.  3. I don't know what it is I'm wrong about.  With that attitude, he views the world with an open mind.  He looks at everything with the mindset that it can teach him something about himself, good or bad.  I need to take on that attitude.  It's refreshingly honest, humble and healthy.

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