‘Truth cannot be imposed by others but must come from within, from your intuition’.
The above quote is a paraphrase from the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, as he worked out his personal philosophy, in the 1920s. Mondrian sought to reach the Truth through his careful compositions of lines and colours. He didn’t want to render every personal emotion like his Expressionist colleagues, but instead use his intuition to create a harmonious result that felt true to him.
The concept of truth has been playing on my mind a lot recently. The realisation that every event in life is perceived by everyone differently has left me asking: which version is the truth? Our mind plays tricks on us; as soon as an event happens it twists it based on our previous experience and our emotions in that moment. The over time our mind twists those memories even more. The resulting memory is now a fantasy. Have I been building my life on delusions?
As I look back over the events of my illness I realise that many of my memories are tinged with fantasy and my reactions to the original events were not very sane. I subconsciously created a world for myself in which I was the victim and could do no wrong. I personified my illnesses and blamed them. I couldn’t bear to be wrong because being wrong meant rejection (in my broken mind); so I created a world in which I couldn’t be made responsible.
This is the hard part. I realised this week that what I had done was wrong. I had done wicked things wearing the mask of the good witch. I’d always been quite aware of my mental problems, like being controlling and obsessive, and I recognised my depression and anxiety. So I thought I was on top of it, I thought I was doing the right thing. However, although I was acknowledging the symptoms of these mentalities, I was not addressing all the behaviours. Sure, I no longer count calories or clean my hands obsessively and I can take a train on my own without having a panic attack. But I carried on being a victim in my relationships with people. Everyone was ‘mean to me’ because I wouldn’t acknowledge that I could be wrong. I bitched and moaned to anyone that’d listen, about everyone that was close to me any time they were negative towards me. Because I didn’t think I deserved it, but I probably did. I was shit at my job, I was a crap friend, I was snappy to my parents, I was cold towards my boyfriend. I blamed it on my various illnesses. Sometimes that was true as M.E., depression and anxiety do make you difficult to be around, but I could have been less of a victim.
So the truth nugget that hit me this week? I’ve been a selfish bitch to be around. I looked back and I felt disappointed in myself. I’ve ruined jobs and relationships and opportunities through playing the sympathy card instead of facing up to the truth. In the past this would have sent me into a negative spiral of hating myself and punishing myself. But that’s still being a victim. So instead I want to say sorry to my family, my friends, my boyfriends, my bosses. This festive season I give a massive heartfelt apology to everyone who had to walk on eggshells and put up with my shit for the past decade.
I’ve recently learned how to speak my truth, but now I’m learning how to accept it too. So please, call me up on my crap and I’ll work out how to deal with it. I’ve done enough looking back, from now on I plan to repair the bridges I burned and learn to accept the ones I sadly can’t repair.
The truth cannot be imposed on you by others; you have to look for it yourself. Don’t believe everything you hear – check it out for yourself: the flip side of letting people call you out on your crap is to still check that it is true to you. Sometimes people really are just being mean because they’re hurting. Someone else’s truth may not be the same as yours. So I guess the message is to pass everything you hear and think through your personal truth filter. And be honest with yourself when you’re wrong. It’s taken me a long time to learn, but it’s OK to be wrong.
As the Shin Buddhists say: “we are all foolish beings”.
Image credit “Fallen Angel” captured by Jim K. http://grupfotograficrodadetervarios.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/tips-for-using-shadows.html