When Kindness Hurts

A dear friend of mine recently posted some very insightful thoughts on the topic of kindness, and this really hit home for me. We’ve all seen the pretty pictures with the nice, inspirational quotes on them. I’ll admit it, I love them! I always appreciate when friends send them my way. More often than not, I see them and want to applaud whoever wrote them because, damn, do I relate to that! Who couldn’t use a little pick-me-up to help get them through a rough day, or give them a much-needed reminder of their self-worth? So when I originally saw the quotes assuring me that “you will never regret being kind” and “kindness costs you nothing”, I nodded my head and said, hell yes, of course! Agreed! I mean, who doesn’t want to be kind? On the surface, this is a wonderful sentiment.

But then, I really got to thinking about it, and this very sentiment is exactly the reason I have been hurt so many times throughout my life. 

I have been kind. Obsessively kind. So. Fucking. Kind.

And usually, it’s a good thing! I absolutely love making people happy, and helping others has always been a thing that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. 

But, the thing is, it isn’t always that simple. I have been kind to people who didn’t deserve it. Kind to people who were toxic in my life. I have been kind to people who used me and took advantage of me more times than I care to admit. I have been made to feel guilty when things were not my fault, and made to feel like I was responsible for the feelings of someone else. There are countless times that I have been too afraid to speak up for myself because I was afraid of hurting someone else’s feelings. I have been TOO kind. I have been kind to the point of naivety, to the point where I know people think I am too stupid to realize that they are walking all over me. Don’t think I don’t know that you are using me! And yet I STILL can’t stop smiling and telling them not to worry–NO BIG DEAL.

But it IS a big deal. In those moments, I find myself frustrated, hurt, and resentful. I find myself feeling powerless and battered and run over. So, really, sometimes I DO regret being kind. In some ways, more than any other regrets I have. There are times when kindness DOES cost me. As someone who lives with a chronic illness as well as my wonderful pals Depression and Anxiety, it has cost me a LOT over the years. There are times it is difficult to even get out of bed in the morning, and let me tell you, pulling it together and pasting a smile on my face, AND giving 110% of myself to everyone is not an easy task on those days. So when I give that 110% over and over, just to find that some of those same people I have spent so much time and energy supporting are nowhere to be found when I need them most… well, that hurts.  

I think balance is the answer, as it always is. I don’t want to be angry or bitter. I don’t want to be UNkind. I see people who have been chewed up and spit out by the world and I don’t want to end up there. I LOVE making people smile, and I love lifting up friends when they are facing dark times. I would never want to regret being there for people I care about, and I want those who have always been there for me to know just how much I appreciate them. I love saying a random, kind word to a stranger, and complimenting people to help them feel good about themselves. I actually love being kind–just not to the extreme that I get pulverized in the process. I think finding a balance is key: remaining compassionate, yet having the strength to protect myself and stand up for myself when needed.

I guess I’m just trying to say that we all should definitely strive to be kind and compassionate to others because it is SO needed in this world, but just not at the expense of not protecting ourselves. Just as everyone else deserves to be treated fairly, so do we, and we owe it to ourselves to keep that in mind. An amazing actor and hero of mine named Jared Padalecki built a very important campaign highlighting the fact that we all need to “love ourselves first.” Self-love and self-care are two of the most important things we can do for ourselves AND those we love, because then we can have the strength to be there for others when they need us. So, find people who are kind back. Surround yourself with people who care about you. Love yourself, be kind to YOURSELF, and don’t let giving yourself to others overshadow what you need to give yourself. 

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My Old “Friend” Anxiety

You know those people who inevitably pop up unannounced into your life at one time or another–the ones who act like your friend, but, secretly, want you to fail?  I’m sure you do, because we all have met them.  They might smile at you and tell you all the things they think you want to hear, but, really, they would just love to see you lose that job, or break up with your significant other, or gain a few extra pounds.

This is exactly what living with ANXIETY is like.  Except, you can’t just tell anxiety that, hey, you’re bad for me and you’re just not welcome in my life anymore; please, just go away, and, no, don’t call, text, or Facebook me either.

Nope, it’s there.  You might go a little while without seeing your old “pal”, but, it’ll be back.  One day your friends will invite you out to dinner and you’ll be excited and get ready and put on the perfect outfit, and then… BAM!  Out of nowhere anxiety is back, whispering awful things in your ear, telling you that you really shouldn’t go, and it’s not like your friends will care or miss you or anything.  In fact, they really just invited you out of pity anyway, so you’d actually be doing them a FAVOR if you just got back into your PJs, crawled into bed, and watched some TV.

The sad truth is that, more often than not, I end up listening to that stupid voice.  Because, as much as I want to tell that mean, nasty “friend” of mine to just piss off already, it just isn’t that simple.  The things anxiety says kind of make sense, in a warped sort of way.  I start to think maybe my “friend” is right and it really does have my best interest at heart after all; maybe I’ve actually been wrong about this old friend of mine this whole time.  And what if I don’t listen and I go out to dinner with my other friends anyway, despite the warnings, and I make a complete idiot of myself?  What if I do something awkward, or say the wrong thing, or, worse, what if it turns out I’m boring and I don’t have anything interesting to say at all?  Nope, maybe I’d better just skip the outing and listen to my real friend anxiety because I’m wrong and it’s right, and I really will be better off that way and it’s only saying these things because it cares.

Except, that’s not the end of it, is it?  The “sorry I can’t make it” text has been sent, and my PJs are on, and the TV is turned to my favorite program, but anxiety isn’t done with me yet.  “You should be ashamed of yourself,” it says, stalking back and forth across my room and shaking its head in disgust.  “How could you flake on your friends like that?” it whispers.  “If they didn’t really like you before, they certainly won’t now.”

The guilt sets in and now I’m certain that I have completely blown it, and there’s no way I’ll ever get invited out anywhere ever again, and why, oh why, didn’t I just go?

And on and on it goes.  For anyone out there who has a “friend” just like mine, you know that sometimes, it really can be a never-ending cycle of suckiness.  But, I would like to think that it doesn’t have to be that way–or at least, maybe it can get better than that.

What I am learning to do is to stand up for myself.  It isn’t easy, and it’s going to take time, and I certainly won’t always win.  But I am starting to remind myself that I have the right to tell this crappy “friend” anxiety to not treat me so poorly.  I don’t deserve the awful things it says to me, and maybe it should just go take a hike–or at least go play the quiet game for a little while.

I am trying to do what I want to do, despite what it says.  When my wonderful, amazing friends invite me somewhere and anxiety creeps up behind me and tells me that I shouldn’t go because I’m probably not really wanted, I hope I’ll be able to tell it to shut up and not talk about my awesome friends that way.  Not only do I not deserve to be treated like this, neither do they.  See, the thing is, they are beautiful people with huge hearts and not at all the kind of people who would hurt me on purpose or secretly wish I hadn’t shown up.  Unlike that awful, rather insidious “friend” of mine, THEY actually DO have my best interest at heart.  At times like that, I can’t forget who my true friends are.

Just like those people in our lives who would love to see us fail, we need to keep in mind that this old “friend” of ours would also love to see us fail.  We may not be able to make anxiety leave us alone for good, but maybe we can find the courage to tell it that we don’t have to believe its lies–not about us, and not about the people we truly care about.  Maybe, every once in awhile, we can win.

We Are Not Alone

And, no, just in case you were wondering, I’m not talking about an X-Files kind of “we are not alone” here. 😉 (Not that I don’t absolutely LOVE that show…) *Is suddenly unable to stop self from whistling the X-Files theme in its entirety*

Huh. Okay, now where was I? Oh, right, I was writing a blog post! Anyway, back to business. A friend of mine recently posted this quote, and it just happened to be one of those random things I sometimes come across that I, for whatever reason, felt on a deeper level than usual:

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I just couldn’t help but think how beautiful a sentiment this was, and also just how important it is to keep in mind. I think sometimes we (myself definitely included!) become so wrapped up in our own pain and struggles, that we truly do imagine that we are very much alone. And because of this, we completely fail to realize that others may actually be able to help us–or in the very least, provide us with reasonable evidence that we can make it through whatever we’re up against.

Sure, they haven’t been precisely in our shoes; no, they maybe haven’t dealt with our exact situation; of course they most certainly are not stuck inside our own heads and could never fully know how we feel–but does any of that really matter in the end? I honestly don’t think it does. Because the thing is, they might have been through something quite similar, and isn’t that reason enough to turn to them for help? Isn’t that a great reason to see what they might be able to lend to your own situation? Perhaps they have advice on how they overcame their own demons. And, even if they can’t really tell you what to do, or what they say won’t work for you because you just aren’t them… who cares? You want to know the best thing you can take away from the experience? The fact that they did overcome their demons. The fact that they are making it through whatever obstacles life has thrown at them. I truly believe there is one thing you most certainly can gain from allowing others to offer their help and support:    Hope.

And, in my humble opinion (and experience), that is the single most important tool you can have in your arsenal when you are down that dark hole with no rescue ladder in sight. So long as you can hold out hope that you’ll make it out of that hole, you will survive the ordeal.

The real take home lesson here: you are not alone. None of us are truly alone. I know it certainly feels like it sometimes, but we are not. Someone out there has been there too. Someone out there has fought and clawed their way out of their own dark hole. And if you happen to be so lucky as to stumble across them, please do yourself a huge favor and let them try to help. They might not be able to give you a ladder…but perhaps a flashlight and words of encouragement are all you really need to make it through. ❤ 

EPISODE TEN: PART TWO

And here is part two of our holiday extravaganza/ special anniversary episode! Hope you all enjoy!

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IT’S NOT A WONDERFUL LIFE: PART TWO

Parker was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. He’d been bitten, drained of all his blood, his heart was no longer beating, and his murderers had even confessed–happily–to the crime. Two of his classmates had witnessed it, though their fate was much the same as his own, making their word not worth all that much. Young Parker was as dead as a doornail.

And yet… he was going home for Christmas.

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EPISODE TEN: PART ONE

I believe I mentioned before my writer friend and I have a free online vampire comedy series we post. In celebration of our one year anniversary, we have posted a 2 part holiday extravaganza this month! Here is part one for anyone interested! 🙂

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IT’S NOT A WONDERFUL LIFE PART ONE

Welcome friends!  Gather round; you have probably all been dying to know what happened after the Halloween party “closet incident”.  Our young vampires have been on holiday and it’s time to hear their stories of holiday “cheer”.

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THE FANDOM LIFE

So, I realize that in my intro I talked about some of my geekier interests, and I think it’s about time I did a quick post relating to this topic. But rather than pick from one of the numerous shows, movies, or books that I love (okay, okay, obsess over), I decided I would talk about fandoms in general.

At least for now, anyway 😉 (I’m pretty sure a Supernatural post will sneak its way onto this blog eventually…)

The funny thing is, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I discovered what a fandom really was. I have always had the tendency to develop a rather insane level of enthusiasm for various things that strike my fancy, but for a long time, I didn’t actually realize there was a name for it. Or that there were others that were a part of it. What a wonderful discovery that was, because it meant that, hurray, I was not alone!

I think that is one of the things I find most appealing about the whole fandom thing. Sure, some are a little more insane than others, and, yeah, people may look at the whole concept and shake their heads in utter confusion, but there is really something quite beautiful about the whole thing. It’s like being a part of some huge, wonderful, crazy, slightly dysfunctional family—only this one actually accepts you one hundred percent for the nerd that you are; in fact, they applaud you for it! If you are like me, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. You know that the thing about being a complete geek is that many people—even some of your closest and favorite friends and family members—don’t seem to quite understand you. Why in the world would you rather stay in tonight when you could go out and party with everyone? What is with you getting all emotional over that book you’re reading?–they’re just fictional characters! And if you make one more Sherlock reference… Then, of course, you find yourself struggling to articulate some sort of explanation that they might possibly understand, but quickly realize that it is a feat about as easy as getting that damn ring to Mordor and into the Cracks of Doom.

But then, a miracle happens, and in a flash of light punctuated by a glorious angel chorus, you happen upon the wonderful and weird world of fandoms, and you feel like somehow you’re finally home. These people get it. I mean, really, they actually get it! They totally threw the book at the same place you did, and they, too, were surrounded by boxes of tissues during that one season finale because, oh the feels. There is no explanation necessary. Absolutely none. How beautiful a thing is that?

I think we all spend a lot of time trying to fit in and go with the flow of things–I know I do anyway. It is unfortunately something that we learn how to do all of our adolescent lives, and then we unconsciously start implementing it in our adulthood. But, the thing is, we are who we are, and we should be kind and accepting of every part of ourselves. So, I say, if you are weird, go ahead and be weird. If you’re a nerd, embrace it. If you prefer fiction to reality, go ahead and find your happy place. If you have unbridled enthusiasm for anything, good for you!

Don’t worry, there are plenty of us out there just like you. And this girl, for one, is cheering you on. 🙂