Saturday, March 22, 2014

On Autopsies and Reconstructions

The Resistless Hour Awaits by Dan May
The older I become and the more I continue to evolve as a person, the less and less I seem to need validation from other people in order to feel good about myself and my decisions. At one point, I never thought I'd get here... but here I am just the same.

Once upon a time, things were very different for me in that regard. Like a lot of people -- especially when they're still young -- I cared about being liked and accepted above all else. I still insist on being liked and accepted by the people I allow to become close to me, but I am a lot pickier as far as how I go about making connections these days. It's quality over quantity all the way.

It occurs to me that I've been outgrowing more and more of my friends as a result. A little at a time, but steadily all the same.

You know how it goes. You take up with people at a point in your life when you're in a certain state of mind -- lonely, angry at the whole world because you're not getting everything you think you're entitled to. You're probably even initially attracted to them because they're like you and have the same outlook on life. Then you evolve. You start figuring things out. You grow up a little and start realizing that sometimes you're the problem. You learn how to make better choices and form better quality relationships as a result. You slowly but surely begin to "get it".

Then you look at some of the people you were closer to during the darker days when you weren't as self aware and you can clearly see that they haven't been making the same progress you have. In fact, they're in the exact same place they used to be. They're still mad at the whole world. They still think their unhappiness and dissatisfaction with life are everyone else's fault. You stop thinking they're as cool as you used to think they were and you start pulling away, probably without even realizing it at first. Then one day they do or say something so out of line you can't justify continuing the relationship anymore. And you realize you don't actually care. You may even realize that you haven't really cared for some time now.

This has been occurring in my life a lot over the past six or seven years. My natural evolution paired with a couple of life-altering events (like Seth's hospitalization and near death a few years ago) have really changed my priorities, especially socially. I've ended or marginalized a lot of different relationships -- with online friends I was once pretty close to, with family, with business associates. I've run into people from my past that I was once super close to and been jarred by the way their lack of personal evolution makes me wonder what I even used to see in them.

I'm just not the same anymore, so I suppose it bothers me that they are. They say "you've changed" without even bothering to conceal the disappointment in their voices. I say "and you haven't" in a tone that conveys just as much disappointment... not to mention boredom.

And then there's the way the removal of such people from my life leaves this... vacuum behind. But it's a vacuum that quickly fills itself with relics and ideas related to the person in some way, shape, or form. I find myself picking these relics up from time to time, turning them over in my hands, and studying them. I've always been an introspective person, so once a particular relationship is over, I like contemplating what it taught me about what I do and don't like about people and relationships. What I find beneficial or unacceptable. How the experiences I had with that person helped me grow as an individual. Seth and I can (and do) talk for hours about this sort of thing. It's like our therapy.

I guess I don't mourn dead connections so much as I perform autopsies on them. Then I recycle the salvageable parts and turn them into characters or stories. That process is very natural for me. It is therapeutic and intellectually stimulating as well. In a way, it almost makes having had to deal with certain people or experiences worthwhile.