The Two Faces of Me - A Positive and a Negative Self
There are two sides to every story. Isn’t that what we’ve all heard? We’ve also been told that for every positive there is a negative and we see it in nature – day and night, cold and hot, light and dark. We accept that as what it appears to be – the balance. But, what about the dark side of ourself? Most of us aren’t so eager to accept that we too have a positive and negative self and even fewer of us are willing to talk about it.
The birth of a title
If you’ve read some of my other articles, you have probably noticed that I find lessons in almost every life experience. My personal philosophy is that bad things don’t happen to us just because we don’t deserve better. No, sometimes bad things just happen to make us take a closer look at ourselves. When it happens, it is an opportunity to grow and change, if we have the courage and the desire.
Now, let me say this before you start to worry. Nothing horrible has happened to me. In fact, I am one of the luckiest people on the planet. I count my blessings daily and gratitude plays an enormous role in each and every day. Each morning I wake with an attitude of gratitude for being given another day to share with those I love and I end each day being grateful for the challenges and choices I have faced for these are the opportunities that strengthen my resolve to become a better person.
So why did I call this “The Two Faces of Me - APositive and a Negative Self”?
Well, because it’s true. There are two faces of me and I’ve recently learned that one of them is not so nice. I had not seen this darker side of myself for many years. Sure, I knew she was still there but I had done the work in my earlier years to keep her out of sight. She no longer controlled me and I have been proud of that. It was not a denial of her existence that kept her at bay. Trust me, I am not in denial. I know this dark side pretty well and I know how strong it is. What kept it at bay was my choice; the choice to surround myself with more positive influences than negative. It’s an equation that works for me. Positive + positive = positive.
Sometimes the negative influences just pile up around us before we notice them. I know mine by name and yet I still let them slip up on me occasionally. I’ll tell you a little about them. Perhaps you know them too.
STRESS: It’s heavy and settles at the base of my neck and shoulders. When it visits, I find myself stretching more, using more aspirin or Alleve and my new best friend is MaxFreeze from the local drugstore. Its primary ingredients are menthol, camphor, and organic Ilex, Aloe, Arnica, and Tea Tree Oil. I don’t know if it has any real therapeutic effect but it makes me feel better when the stress tightens those muscles in my back and neck.
WORRY: This one is pure evil and very powerful. It invades my brain and interrupts even the deepest thoughts. It wakes me in the middle of the night and makes a return to sleep all but impossible. It is wasted time and energy as worry has never solved a problem. It is nothing more than a nuisance but a powerful one.
ANGER: Of all the negative influences, this one is perhaps the most dangerous. It wears many disguises and if you don’t know it well, you may not recognize it until it has control. There was a time in my life when I almost lost the battle with anger and so I am vigilant in my effort to spot it early.
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How Did It Come To This?
I must confess. It is the first step in turning things around. And turn things around I must and… will.
To help you understand, I’ll tell you the short version of how I came face to face with the dark side of me recently.
Life has been a bit challenging for the past few years. I walked away from a 38 year career in health care in 2009 after realizing that health care had become everything but caring. I had gotten comfortable with my career. It was lucrative and had great benefits but no longer fulfilled the need I had to make a difference. In my wildest dream I did not imagine that with such a career history and skill set that I would find it so hard to find a new career. After eighteen months of not working, I chose to take a position that paid little but afforded me great exposure to a wide array of business owners. Surely a door would open soon.
Two years later, when I was nearly broke, a door opened and I felt like I was on the way back up. It lasted eleven months before that rug was snatched from beneath my feet. I was laid off without notice. Financially, I was in better shape but facing another uncertain future. Worry, stress, and anger found sustenance in my situation but I consciously shooed them away.
Failing eyesight from severe macular degeneration suddenly made finding work difficult. It also robbed me of many of the hobbies I had once enjoyed and took such pleasure in. Many things that require visual acuity and depth perception became impossible tasks. This was the beginning of my becoming less independent. Family and friends were always first in my list of priorities but my independence was a close second. Stress, worry, and anger were living in a nutrient rich environment – me.
Aging parents with functional decline have been the icing on the cake. Alzheimer’s disease and a stroke robbed my parents of their ability to live independently and forced us to make the decision to move them to assisted-living. That process has begun and so has the task of cleaning out 63 years of accumulated memories and… stuff. And, once again, stress, worry, and anger are eating well and getting fat.
Stress, Worry, and Anger: The Elements of Combustion
It was the perfect storm. Several years worth of repressed negative emotions combined with the ignorance and lack of concern of a few customer service representatives unleashed a firestorm a few days ago. And the two faces of me became one – a face of combustible, combined worry, stress, and anger. It was not pretty.
I am not proud of my behavior. In fact, I am somewhat embarrassed that something so small could unleash such fury from me. But I am also grateful that I now recognize the signs and symptoms I had been ignoring for so long. It was my choice all along to let stress, worry, and anger fester just below the surface. I made a choice; the wrong choice.
Arriving home at the end of a less than perfect day at work, I found my Internet connection and my cable TV service dead. A quick call to my service provider would surely take care of it. Not!
Before stomping on several low-level customer service reps who repeatedly asked me to recycle my modem and DVR, I complied with their requests. I also knew this was a waste of time. I’m not a computer technician but I am smart enough to know that when both services are lost and the DVR says there was an interruption in service, the problem is not in my house. It should not be difficult to make the first tier of tech support see that. But, it was.
When three hours had passed and the problem was not resolved, I was then told that a technician would be dispatched in five days to fix the problem. Five days! I thought they were joking. And yes, I told them so right before I asked to speak to a manager.
The manager was no more helpful than the low level techs. In fact, he was more rude and continued to talk over top of me, sure that by increasing the decimal level of his voice would make me shut up and go away. He could not have been more wrong. When he hung up on me, the fight was on but it would not continue until the following morning.
I began again, making call after call trying to find a rational human being who had the authority to dispatch a technician. One low level tech let it slip that there was a problem in the “line” outside my home. It’s all I needed to fuel my anger. Without providing the details of the approximate twenty calls, suffice it to say that I was promised the moon and tossed a crumb of cheese. At 9:00 A.M. on day three, I was standing at the local office when they opened for business. I made one simple request – fix it today or cut it off.
By the time I had reached this climax, I had stressed, worried, and gotten totally PO’d with the lack of customer service. And everyone I spoke to knew it. I was loud, obnoxious, condescending, and, came very close to crossing the line of verbal abuse. I was spiraling out of control over what? TV? Internet?
Coming Face to Face With My Dark Side
My behavior startled me. This was the me I thought was gone forever. Where was the person I had tried to become; the one who is not attached to material things? What happened to the woman who was flexible, understanding that life happens and we have to adapt. I was acting like a spoiled brat over television and an Internet connection?
No one was dying or bleeding. My family was safe, reasonably stable and healthy. My friends were all safe and healthy. Most had jobs and a roof over their head and food on their table.
We were blessed. Weren’t we?
Others around the world are hungry, homeless, sick, and dying. Some are living in war torn countries or cleaning up from tornadoes and floods after losing everything. In other places people are trying to put their lives back together after losing limbs in a senseless bombing or watching a child losing their battle with cancer. How on earth could I be so selfish, so insensitive, so out of control over something as stupid as television and an internet connection.
Positive or Negative: The Choice is Mine
Life is about choice. It is up to me to change. I can continue to wear this face of darkness or, I can put all of the elements in their proper place and choose to see the positive that can come from all the turmoil and chaos. Stress is disabling. Worry serves no purpose. Anger, well, anger makes us do stupid things to hurt others and ultimately only hurts us.
I have learned my lesson and am choosing sunshine over darkness. I am choosing to grow my positive self and to starve my negative self to death. There will always be twp faces pf ,but I will not allow myself to get stuck on the negative side of things. When I finish this writing, I will turn off the computer and the television and I will step outside. I will take a deep breath of fresh mountain air and savor the moment. I will whisper “thank you” to the universe. I have a roof over my head, food in the pantry, a family and friends that I love. I need nothing more. I have made my choice.
© 2013 Linda Crist