I have begun an essay entitled, “The Year of No Bullshit” three times now. Each version expresses a different part of the frustration I have been experiencing in my life. In each essay, I feel like I end up sounding bitter. But I don’t feel bitter at all. I feel liberated. I no longer have to take on that which is not mine, that which frustrates me, that about which I can do nothing.
Other people are entitled to their poor relationship choices, financial woes, toxicity, narcissism, paranoia, insecurity, addiction, depression, lack of impulse control, inertia, apathy, drama, etc. The list goes on ad nauseam.
I don’t have to engage or take part.
I don’t have to get over, or accept, anything.
This attitude surprises people in my life. Probably because I have always sought to make peace – to not be confrontational in my relationships. This approach has left me physically damaged. I ended up with a diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis. By allowing other people’s stress to invade my reality I am suddenly in a position where they think it’s ok to intrude upon my serenity (which, in turn, creates internal stress…then RA moments). And I am using “they” deliberately, for there is more than one, two, even three individuals in my reality that fall into this particular “they”. So, please don’t feel like I am singling you out.
Granted, there are hereditary factors involved in Rheumatoid Arthritis. My maternal grandmother had arthritis at an outrageously early age, before the days of RA diagnosis. So, it’s likely I am predisposed to such a condition. But RA episodes, in my experience, are precipitated, or aggravated, by stress. When I make a simple list of these stresses they all seem like reasonable boundaries…
- Other peoples’ bills—or income. Clearly, not my job.
- Other peoples’ actions; be it inertia or lack of impulse control. Phone calls at midnight would fall under lack of impulse control, I suppose, not to mention narcissistic. I haven’t quite worked out what that phrase means…lack of impulse control. I don’t think impulse control is something we are born with; I believe it comes from boundaries imposed by others. Manners. Social norms.
- Toxic relationships. This is a big one. I could write whole novels about this one topic! Friends, lovers, siblings, children. Be involved with whoever you like – I don’t have to follow suit. By stating what is toxic for me isn’t advising or judging you. It has nothing to do with my level of education. It is simply stating the facts in my reality. If you choose to spend your time with someone I cannot abide, then it’s your choice. You are not within your rights to be disappointed in me, or angry, for standing by my convictions. I don’t have to be involved with toxic people whether they are the siblings, friends, or lovers of people I love. Period.
So, this is my year of no bullshit. Thus far, my pain level has decreased. I know I cannot escape RA episodes completely, but by eliminating OPB (other people’s bullshit) I can create a healthier space for myself. And that is exactly what I intend to do. There. Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, perhaps I can get some real writing done!