Brace yourself, people. I’m on the warpath. Oh not really. But I’ve got a few things to say and I will not mince words.
If you are not-me, you have no idea what happens inside my skin every day. You can’t experience the misfiring of my neuro-transmissions, the re-routing of my brain’s pathways, or the clenching of these spastic muscles. You don’t know what my eyes have seen, what visions still haunt me, or why I step a certain way — actually or metaphorically. You can’t assume you understand what challenges I face. You don’t push against the stream which swallows me or the wind which batters me.
I don’t know what you have to overcome, either — nor where your journey has taken you. I understand the impact of trauma, of glory, of grief and goodness. But I do not know the subtleties of your particular configuration of life, and you don’t know mine.
Do not judge me.
In turn, I will not judge you.
I might decide that you threaten me, or that you thrill me. I might sense a certain compatibility of our principles and interests. On the other hand, I might jerk back from you as though you’ve seared my fingertips until the prints would no longer show under the closest of scrutiny. I’ll let one tear trickle down my cheek at the loss of what I felt could have been such a spectacular friendship. Then I will turn on my heel and walk away.
But if you stand silently before me, with your hand outstretched, and a soft expression on your face, I will not turn from you. If you show me your fear, your trust, your open-hearted wonder, I will not close my own heart to your entreaty.
I will not judge you even if I make a decision about whether your impact on my life can be called beneficial. I might label your behavior, but I do not confuse your self with how you act. At the same time, I will not try to explain or justify my decisions for myself, even if what I choose to do invokes your scorn.
You are not me. I am not you. What you do might shock or sadden me. What I do might sicken you. We face our own demons and welcome our own angels.
I’m moved to mention this because I’ve recently experienced the caustic criticism of me by people who cannot fathom why I fear what I fear and avoid what I cannot handle. Events which those folks dismiss as ridiculous often distress me. I am not complaining about their judgment of me, I am merely observing that no one can entirely understand who I am because no one is “me”
I accept that some think I should be unafraid of shadows. I’m not asking for your sympathy but neither will I accept your condemnation. And I carry a flashlight everywhere I go. I know my limitations but I also push them. It’s a gift that I give myself — I do not punish myself for being frightened of the darkness, but I challenge myself to dispel the gloom.
It’s the tenth day of the fifty-first month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.