Some people have recently vaporised. It’s almost as if once you’ve imagined what you want your life to be like, decided the direction you want it to take and started the steps you will have to take for that, every person who doesn’t belong there vanishes, making a curious sound, like something being sucked into a vacuum. They all fade away, leaving you free to mold what you have into what you want it to be. It’s like they never existed but for the cards, words and gifts that lie around your house.
I used to be hopeful to the point of being stupid about it. I used to think, Who knows? Maybe it will work out this time, or, Maybe she did forget, and now that she knows how I feel, she won’t do it again, or, Maybe he means his “sorries”, or, my personal favourite: Surely, they’ll learn from their mistakes. It’s obvious I hoped they would change. I would give second and third and fourth chances, hoping they’d finally get it right, that they would learn how not to disappoint me, how not to let me down. But I was counting on other people to change. I was depending on others’ decision to make a difference so I could be happy. I was hopeful that the pieces would somehow just fall into place. Do you see what was wrong there? We’d better learn the lesson sooner than later, because otherwise we will have wasted much of our lives.
I learned only recently how easy it is to have expectations of other people. It’s so damn easy to put our happiness in their hands and we must find a way to stop doing that. I think it’s a conscious decision we must make. If someone makes us unhappy, off they go. We may be reluctant because some of those are people we’re attached to or people we actually like. But when they’re doing us more harm than good, then whom are we going to side with? I hope we side with ourselves. Think about all the other things we could be doing with our lives instead of possibly wasting time spent with them. Even if all we’re doing is reading a book, or writing, or listening to music, or taking a walk, or window shopping, or cooking for fun with our favourite music blasting in the background, that time will be more meaningful if we don’t spend it doing pointless things.
I finally decided to think about what I want from people or from time spent with them, instead of it being the other way around. I mustn’t act in ways that contradict my desire to be happy and stress-free. For instance, I might prefer hanging out with a guy as a friend, without feeling like he has ulterior motives, or that this has to lead somewhere. Even if I really enjoy spending time with him, I don’t want that uncomfortable thought, Maybe he’s hoping we’ll be more than friends…but how do I tell him that there’s no more, that this is it? In deciding to be honest about these things, I’ve trimmed the fat. If a person doesn’t want the same end as I do, they’ve been warned and are free to walk away. I’ll go my way, they can go theirs, because we’re not after the same thing and my time will be better spent doing other things I enjoy, with no such underlying currents. So will theirs, really. Similarly, if a person fails to follow through on their word and thinks I shouldn’t feel let down by them, well, they should think again and about something else. If I feel let down and see the pattern, it’s most likely they won’t be given that chance to not follow through again. They may think their actions aren’t careless and that’s their choice. They can think as much as they like that my reactions are unfair. But, you know, it’s my choice to not let myself be the object of those actions and of what I think is careless behaviour. I must take the necessary remedial steps which remove me from such situations. I cannot control them or their thoughts or their behaviour, I can only control mine and so I mustn’t waste my time on theirs.
It occurred to me that maybe I’ve finally learned to give up the drama and seek to make life as uncomplicated as it can be. When I shared stories of the vaporised folks with a very close friend who’s miles away, he said the same thing to me. I think perhaps I’ve started to learn to not leave my happiness at the mercy of another person’s whims. It isn’t easy, but I’m still learning. I falter sometimes and when I feel like I’m losing sight of what really matters to me, I take a moment to think about why I’m letting another person affect my life. I try to go about resolving it. If certain people disappear in the process, it is of their own accord; so be it.