Wednesday, June 23, 2010

When Life Is Comprised of Reactions


A life comprised of reacting amounts to a life of wasted effort. You never actually learn whatever it is the Universe is trying to get you to see.

How many times does this happen to you? A situation is completed, and the next thing you know, pretty much the same type of situation presents itself to you again. Take job hoppers, for instance, people who can never stay for any extended period of time in a single job. They get bored, they get angry, they bitch about the incompetent management. (Frankly, I have never heard of ANY place of employment where at least a few people haven't been promoted beyond their level of competence, or the boss's idiot son is a department head, or something equally maddening occurs.) The job hopper quits, takes another job, hoping to hit the mother lode finally, and, of course, when some equally maddening thing happens at the new job, they hit the road again.

This person is merely reacting. And if he keeps it up, he will eventually become unemployable because nobody likes a resume that lists 30 jobs in the past 20 years. But until that happens, he's going to keep reacting unless something happens that gets him to wise up, to handle differently basic job frustrations we all have. In other words, PROCESS your situation. Learn something from it. Don't just react. Otherwise, you are doomed to keep repeating the same mistakes and are building for yourself a life of wasted effort.

Or take your typical person who can't stay single for even one moment. They HAVE to be in a relationship. So they leap right into them without taking some time off to recover and fully process the last one. Their history is one of reactions we usually call "the rebound." I used to do this a lot (when I was in my twenties). Hell, I would even glibly tell people that I never really got over one lover until I was in the next relationship. And then, five lovers down the road, in a moment of clarity, I'd suddenly realize I was still in love with so-and-so from six years ago. It's crazy. There are probably a dozen women I owe amends to for, basically, using them to distract me from my own pain, my own sense of loss, my inability to take lessons about myself from the people who'd meant (I'd thought) the most to me. It took sobriety for me to understand that this pattern played itself out even into my forties; the only real difference is just that the relationships weren't as short-lived. But had you asked me, during any given year, if I was in love with the person I was with, I would've said yes. That's how well I'd fooled myself. I spent 10 years of my life in relationships with women I wasn't even remotely close to being in love with.

That is an astonishing thing to realize.

But nothing was wrong with them. Pretty much everything was wrong with ME.

So I, former Miss Impulsivity, am fairly wary now of people who just react, people who don't think big decisions through carefully, who shrug off the thought of long-term consequences and figure, "Well, we'll deal with that if it even comes up." It's a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants morality because anybody can justify a stupid or selfish decision if they want to. As I've blogged about here, I sure as hell did it, using a pie-in-the-sky lie to myself about how love trumps everything--and lost my own son in the bargain. So, I hurt him, I hurt my ex, and I hurt myself for what? About a three-month rush that I clung onto for six years because I didn't want to face the fact that I'd chosen impulsively (and the woman I left my ex for was also selfish for encouraging me in making the decision I did. Had she really loved me, perhaps she would've moved to Ohio instead of me to California, or insisted on waiting until I had shared custody of my son legally worked out). Nope, we were just infatuated with each other, both of us reacting to miserable circumstances in our lives, and we had to do it NOW. It still hurts, to this day, to know I made that colossal mistake.

Reacting. They say in AA that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Now I look for repeating patterns in my life, recognize them, label them, process them fully, and resolve to get off that train. What a relief, to know I don't need to keep taking the same train ride ... especially when the ticket keeps getting more expensive.

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