Defining Oneself

Audre Lorde once said, "If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive."

I heard this quote years ago, but I could never let it really seep in. It wasn't relevant to my life. (I knew who I was and was pretty good at presenting that definition to whomever I chose.) Recently I've had the pleasure of dealing with a painful breakup that I feel in my bones is resulting in a lot of talk about who I am as a person...and I'm not so sure it's true. I'm pretty darn open about admitting my faults and telling it like it is so I find it offensive when someone comes to me and says, "Well I've heard you're this and that," I say no and they give me the side eyes; disbelieving me because who honestly would say they were a bad person. I would!

I've been labeled as self absorbed, mean...needy, jealous. It's like the person spoke the words and they floated on over to me and pinned themselves upon my face. It's all a group of people currently see when they look at me. I feel it and I'm at a loss. I was really sad and quiet on Saturday while driving with Jersey. After explaining to him why I was moping in silence (me quiet is scary...) he took a moment and then carefully replied that I was going to have to go this one alone. That I was in charge of whether or not those adjectives meant anything. That I didn't have to allow other peoples' definitions to eat me alive.

It's hard though. When you place someone in a box it's hard to let them out. It's like telling people you saw a tree with a dollar bill hanging from its branch. From that point on those people will stare at trees with an intensity you never knew they had. We're curious creatures with a knack for focus on the dramatic. There's that and the fact that it physically hurts me to know that people in my inner circle could think such things about me...and believe that mess.

There's a lesson in all this, though. I've shared my opinion of people before. I've created unfair definitions. Now I see how it feels. It's not nice. Don't think I"ll be doing that in the future. I'm totally cool with allowing people to form their own opinions.

I have some serious damage control to deal with and not a clue as to where to start. Do I just keep being me and let the skeptics learn in their own time? Smart, but I'm much too impatient for that mess. Couldn't I just stand on Willy Wonka's golden egg scale and let those folks see if I'm a good egg or a bad one? Where can I find one of those?

Handing the heart breaks one smile at a time...


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