Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The Hitchhikers Guide to OWNING your failures...

So, there's this family friend. Let's ignore the fact that I've known her since childhood ok. She's a year older than I am and when she was 18 years old, she met the "love of her life" and decided to get married. Nothing wrong there. 

Eleven years later, due to unforeseen circumstances and events that people are still confuzzled over, she got divorced. And yes, we were all picking up our jaws off the floor - I mean they were the loves of each others lives innit - and just like that: snap, crack and pop, it was all over.

She visited back then, just after her ordeal. She was clearly in a lot of pain but putting on a really brave front, like claiming some kind of victory. She laughed it off like it was nothing. I couldn't understand it... but I chose to let it be and not long after that she got re-married. At the time, I thought she was making a mistake, rushing off into another relationship without dissolving her feelings for her first husband. And I could see that all she wanted to do was pretend that the first marriage didn't happen, that it didn't exist, and that she wanted to go back into time and start all over again by erasing those 11 years of her life. 

Thing is, her grief along with her pride prevented her from accepting that she too made mistakes, that she too had a role in the destruction and failure of her marriage. 

I didn't hold her decision against her - I figured that perhaps, like so many others in this society, her identity, self-esteem and self-worth was tied to her marital status and that without it, she felt lost and couldn't face the world alone. And I subsequently lost all contact with her after that. 

Two years later, a few months ago in fact, I met with her by chance at a festival. It had been just a few months since her second divorce was finalised and yet she seemed no worse for wear. If anything, she hadn't changed a bit. It was like an ode to deja-moo... y'know, seeing the same bullshit all over again. She masqueraded around with the same false bravado she had the first time. And it was the same pride that had prevented her from admitting NOT to me but to HERSELF, that perhaps she had gotten married too soon and on the rebound and that in trying to spite her first ex-husband, she ended up spiting herself. She, of course, laughed it off. 

A few weeks after that, I had heard that her cousin (really her first cousin, not someone whose identity I'm trying to hide), who is also a family friend had gotten divorced too and was utterly devastated too because her husband had cheated on her. And in an online conversation with her cousin, I asked her how she's doing and her response was: LOL, I'm single now.

And in that moment, I thought to myself: what's so funny? Really, I want to know. Sure, no one wants to be left feeling devastated and utterly wrecked in front of the entire world... and worse still, no one wants to see the wretched pity plastered on every face you encounter... but to fake bravado and happiness?

I think what offended me the most, was the way they went about it - they couldn't even tell me that they've failed in their relationships out of fear of some kind of judgement from me - me, the person whom they both call family. And here am I, worried about them and their welfare; not out of pity, but genuine concern.

And I'm bringing this up now, because for some reason, I've been encountering this kind of behaviour a lot from various people. Another acquaintance was admitted to hospital (after I advised her to go and she didn't want to), and she told her family not to tell me about it - again, as if I'd pass on some kind of judgement. 

I only have this to say about it all: wandering the earth trying to save face by pretending that nothing happened or that you didn't make a mistake or that you didn't make the wrong decision, because you have too much pride to pick yourself up off the ground and dust yourself off and continue on your path is just pathetic. The only person that looks like a fool is you. OWN your failures. You don't have to dwell or revel in it, but you don't have to deny it either. Yes you got divorced - so what? How many millions of people aren't divorced? No one has any right to judge you. Yes you made a mistake or you feel like an idiot - show me one person in this entire world that can claim otherwise...

But going around and pretending that you're exempt from any kind of failure or hardship or mistakes - or that it is beneath you - is like digging your own grave and giving fate the rope it needs to hang you.  

34 comments:

  1. Very interesting analysis! I totally recognize and admit my missteps and failures to myself and to those in my most-inner circle. But I do tend to deliberately cover up/sugercoat my missteps when it comes to everyone else.

    The best advice anyone's ever given me re: how to improve my creative writing (in the memoir/personal essay genre)is to take more emotional risks and cut back on the pride/fear of judgment.

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    1. You're right, can only really truly succeed by pushing our pride to one side and taking risks Roving Retorter :)

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  2. I've never been divorced, I can't even image the hurt.

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    1. Count your luck stars Happy Whisk ;)

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  3. So it's a little bit of a stretch potentially but part of it could also be a cultural issue? I know it took me a long time to face failure and take it seriously. To take something away from it. Because the natural reaction is to be defensive. Or flippant - brush it off like you don't care. I don't know if this says something about that person's support system or maybe lack of self esteem but it does take a very brave person to look failure in the eye and say - I see and know you.

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    1. I agree 100% Rooth... culture plays an important part in people's behaviour.

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  4. ultimately its best that they own up but ppl have so many valid and invalid reasons. sometimes as much as we want to help our friends and family, we should just let them learn from their mistakes. it can make us angry to watch them do the same thing over but if they're not going to listen, we can't help much.

    i know a friend who gives advice and if ppl around dont follow it and eventually ends up in a mess, she'd take pride from it like i-told-you-so-hahahaha, but if she makes mistakes, she keeps quiet or never take the blame until or unless she's in a tight situation.

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    1. Yes you're right Jaya... not everyone receives or processes news the same. And people are afraid of never being able to escape their failures.

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  5. All I can say, Az, is people need to make their own mistake and one day they'll look in the mirror and learn from it. Hopefully. What surprises me is she didn't share her feelings with you. That's got to hurt.

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    1. That's my whole point Grumpy... I mean, she's known me since I had an umbilical cord attached to me.

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    2. Exactly. It is so disappointing.

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  6. Well Azra, I can honestly say I have so many failures If I wrote them all down on here you'd be in bed before I'd finished. I think that people brush it off, or pretend to be ok because they want to pretend it didn't happen, seem in control or perhaps don't want to be judged as a failure. Even though we have ALL made mistakes. Gosh, some of mine are colossal - BUT, I wouldn't necessarily talk about them or discuss them with everybody I know because I actually think some people don't give a toss AND there are certain people who DO judge you on your mistakes. To those people, it's easier to pretend to be happy. However, gosh I'm rambling a bit here, bear with me, do not lose the will to live, if it's family or a good friend then you should be able to bare your soul. On a side note- Lottery tomorrow and if we get there I'll tell you some of my mistakes and you'll probably choke on your Margarita! ;)

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    1. I hear what you're saying Jules. It is quite complicated isn't it. We could have a competition on who's made the most COLOSSAL mistakes though... and I'd either win or it'll be a tie ;)

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    2. Hold it! Failure is my middle name.

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    3. Ok. Winner of most colossal mistakes has to buy first round of cocktails at Beach bar.

      'Deluded-whimsical-lulabelle' is my middle name Randy, or so I'm told! I don't tend to use it as it takes FORever to sign cheques.

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  7. And those who cannot learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.

    I can't say I really feel all that sorry for her.

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    1. I agree DWei. If we can't learn from the lessons, we're definitely doomed to repeat them.

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  8. I had the same experience with my sister. Pride and anger led to her divorce, and only now, she admits those reasons. Sigh sigh...

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    1. It's sad though isn't it Prixie. Hope your sister will recover and learn from it though.

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  9. As someone who very recently had to own up to her own failures (plural) I have to say though, there is a thin line between owning your failures and self flagellation. You'd think its easy to differentiate, but trust me. I laughed when someone asked me about it, not because it was funny, but because you think to yourself "Fuck, I am going to have to answer this many times" and though you are right that we can't bury our heads forever; I do believe we should until the sting lessens. My response now to how I have been, I say " Its kak when someone no longer wants you and I was bleak for weeks. But I am ok now. I am dealing with it, but it still hurts" more than pride being wounded, its about self worth too.

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    1. Aasia, I know absolutely how horrid it is to live through your failures (over and over) and not given the opportunity to leave it behind.

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  10. The world around you is a reflection of your reaction to the world around you.

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  11. I haven't had a chance to know somebody who isn't like this. But for sure there are a lot of these kind of people. I hope they learn to own their mistakes. I can't see why they can't accept it. Everybody makes mistakes. Why do they have to hide theirs? :|

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    1. It's true Debie Grace... we all make mistakes!

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  12. ah Azra dont worry! I know some people like you say I can say I was hurt a lot of times (and still) but is the life and really think you are awesome; a lot of hugs!!

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  13. ah azz thanks for alwsys stopping by you are sweet:)

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  14. As Aasia said, it's about self-worth. It's okay to put on a brave face, but being flippant, or deliberately devaluing something which was once so vital, is self-sabotage.

    Sadly, many don't know their own self-worth, nor do they examine themselves in relation to their relationships with others.

    Both these women just lack emotional maturity.

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    1. I definitely agree that there is some kind of emotional maturity lacking BB Aisha - especially given the way they've gone about dealing with it... or perhaps its the utter devastation that has led to the abandonment all kind of rationale.

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  15. I can see why they're afraid of potential judgment from you...as you're judging them for the way they're recovering. There's sayings such as "laugh to keep from crying"...maybe this is just the way they're coping? Sometimes, if you focus on the negative parts, you have difficulty feeling the positive parts. Maybe they're just trying to stay positive?

    I think, as someone outside of the whole situation, that it might be best to reserve judgment about their emotions. Who knows what's actually going on, and who knows who is actually qualified to determine when someone's coping mechanisms are wrong?

    This article by William Foster Wallace might be useful in this situation: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122178211966454607.html

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    1. I see your point Iris. We all have different coping mechanisms... your comment has actually led me to my next conclusion so thank you for it! And thanks for the link too :)

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  16. I know, it's hard. It's hard all around. I can understand why it'd be irksome that they're pretending in front of you, their family, when you're here for them and when they should be able to be honest with you, to tell you their woes, etc. On the other hand, perhaps they are trying to brush it off because it's a self-defence mechanism...? I don't know. :-(

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    1. I think it's definitely a defense mechanism Pretzel Thief. *sigh*

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