Monday, March 5, 2018

The Grand Purge

My greatest fear in life is being non-essential.  Unimportant.  Valueless in the lives of the people I care about.  I've been doing a tremendous amount of thinking about this lately and I've come to the epiphanous realization that I fear these things because I've felt these things.  Many times, from different people I care about.  Especially in the last few months.

No one reads this blog so I'm perfectly safe in announcing to the non-world that I am getting divorced.  I move out Monday the 12th and will be "officially" separated until the paperwork processes.  To prepare for the logistical change I've begun to purge myself of unneeded and unwanted material things.  As I prepare for a new beginning I realize that I don't want clutter.  I don't want things that crowd and distract from my life.  I want to be in an environment that fosters clean, efficient, powerful growth and self-improvement.  I'm finding myself in an ironically similar place emotionally, specifically with relationships and friendships.

I had a memorable experience years ago during a parent-teacher conference for my middle child who was then in first grade.  He has always been a bit of a spaz so I didn't know what to expect.  He was smart.  Just...out there.  A lot like me.  But the main focus of the meeting was on his social talents.  His teacher called him a "bucket filler"... a term I'd not yet heard.
The idea is that everyone has an invisible bucket that carries their positive thoughts and feelings.  The beautiful things in life.  Some people have a bucket filled to the brim.  Others have buckets that need some work.  Bucket fillers walk through life, adding positivity to the world around them.  By smiling, paying compliments, showing love, and helping people in need, we fill others' buckets.  However, there are also those that are Bucket Dippers.  These are people that may not have much in their bucket and choose to fill theirs by taking from others' buckets.  They dip their imaginary ladles and remove positivity from others' lives.  Unkind words, selfish acts, bullying, cheating, and being dishonest.  This is how school children fill and dip from buckets.

Adults are no different.  We carry buckets with us.  I try my best to be a bucket filler.  I think, on the whole, I do a decent job at it.  I certainly know I can do better.  I also know that I have chosen to bring bucket dippers into my life.  People that have chosen to take from my bucket without returning anything to it.  Or at least taking far more than they return.

I am too resolved toward happiness and change to continue monkeying around with bucket dippers.  And for me it's become the smaller things.  I have lost patience and understanding for people that don't value me the way I value them.  This process of divorce has been brutal.  I've seen special people in my life change drastically toward me.  And it's hard.  It hurts.  I've lost sleep.  I've cried.  I've worried.  I've doubted myself.

A very close friend and I were recently talking about "the game."  The game of life and friendships and relationships.  He made a comment that "if you choose not to play the game, you choose to be lonely."  I believed that.  For a time.  But now, after a few weeks, I disagree.  I don't have to play SHIT.  And I won't necessarily be lonely.  Because the only thing worse than being alone is being with people that make you feel lonely.  I will choose solitude over loneliness, because I operate very well alone.  But I fall to complete shit when I'm lonely.

This close friend also said that when he met me he initially believed I get taken advantage of because I'm weak.  Last week he said he was wrong.  I get taken advantage of because I'm a genuinely good guy that pushes for harmony and happiness for others.  That made me feel really good.  But it also flipped a switch.  I don't want to be taken for granted.  I want to feel valued.  I want to feel essential.  I have let my fear of being unimportant in the lives of others cloud my vision and make me vulnerable.  And so today I begin the grand purge.  

There is no excuse for taking others for granted.  For not putting forth small efforts.  Return texts.  Initiate something.  Compliment people.  Smile.  Get uncomfortable to make others feel good.  Recognize kindness and return it.  Let someone know they are fun, or talented, or special.  Show appreciation.  It doesn't take much.  It's a conscious choice.  All it really takes is some effort and a little time.  

If you dip from my bucket without filling it back up, I have no use for you.  You are non-essential.  You take and don't give.  You are taking me for granted and I won't have it anymore.  I have friends all over this country that have been essential to me during my life that now fit this category.  It makes me sad, but distancing myself is now necessary.  It has to stop.  I can't keep filling buckets anymore, just to make people feel good.  I'm scaling back.

I'm taking my bucket and moving on.

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