Sunday, October 21, 2012

We Are Not What We've Learned. We Are What We Know

Image by @HarryVorsteher
Leo Buscaglia is credited for having said, "Change is the end result of all true learning."  No words have ever been more on the money, especially in my life at this current moment.  So many lessons bring about true, rich, deep and rewarding change.  Don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't teach an old dog (or young dog, or human for that matter) new tricks.  That is simply not true. False--100 percent.

Lately I have had the immense pleasure of watching my oldest child mature and yes, change, at a rapid rate.  Don't get me wrong, he is a great "kid"--stayed away from drugs, and alcohol and smoking and many other temptations that teens his age face daily.  He chose a girlfriend that any mother would praise the heavens over.  His soft spot for his sister is heart melting.  Yup...he's a good egg.  However, like all of us, he had some pretty rigid, dug-in-deep, flaws that made me worry about him.  (After all, that is what we moms do best.)  And like most of us, those behaviors, personality flaws, that humaness, whatever you want to call it, caught up to him in several different ways.  To say caught up doesn't quite paint the about, came crashing down on his head rendering him close to unconscious.  When the world cracked open and swallowed him up, I worried about the way he'd handle it.  But shockingly...he handled it like a man, like someone who had the intellectual realization that things just couldn't go on the way they were going if he wanted the most out of his life.  To protect his privacy I won't go into the things HE instituted in his life to begin the long road to change, but it is clear to me, his mom, that the hard lessons that he experienced are bringing about very clear changes on his part.  He KNOWS now that certain behaviors and choices won't work on the road to success.

It doesn't escape me that some of those flaws that my oldest learned along the way were taught by me. I am not above admitting that I made mistakes.  The models I used for "competent parenting" were clearly not competent at all in many ways.  And while I most definitely have developed that introspection now, I obviously hadn't the introspection that my son has been able to figure out at monumentally young age of 18.  He's on the cusp of adulthood and starting that road the correct way.  It wasn't until I was 30 that I began to understand, just scratch the surface mind you, that some of the things that continually plagued me were due to my behavior or dug-in-deep personality flaws.  If you know me, you know that I am 43, and I will tell you that the lessons never stop rolling in and therefore the changes in me continue.  Looking back on my first therapy session October 8th, 1997, I had NO IDEA how much of my personality that made me...well...ME I would have to adjust, change, get rid of, replace in order to be a functioning human in society.  Change is hard work.  The lessons that FORCE us to change are probably harder.  At least they are to me.  But I know after I walk through the storm, that the work I've done to undo the knots of knowledge and erroneous experiences that I've relied upon as "what one does" since learning it as a child is satisfying to the core.  When the shackles of mistaken ideas cultivated during my childhood, during my child's childhood are removed, clarity and illumination remain.  `And it seems that both of us find that so satisfying that we plan on continuing our enlightenment.

The reasons HE'S changing may be different than the reasons I've chosen to slowly change over the last 15 years.  His is for the love of a girl, a special girl.  Mine are for the love of my children and the love of my husband.  My changes are for the love of a loyal sister.  My changes are for the love of a whole ginormous in-law family.  And while so much of me is different than who I was 15 years ago, I have a long way to go.  A VERY VERY long way to go.  But one thing my son and I DO have in common is that our changes are being brought about because we love OURSELVES as well.  We WANT to live a life in which we are open to making mistakes and learning from them so that we KNOW better.  Because when it comes right down to they say--knowledge is POWER.  The more my eldest and I learn to undo what it was that we erroneously established as truth when children, the more of that stabilizing, strengthening knowledge we will gather, and the more powerful we become in our assurance of who we are.

It makes me happy that my son is on a path to self-assurance because in life we will constantly run into those who haven't done the hard work, who refuse to change, who refuse to see that the strife they constantly run into could possibly be due to their shortcomings.  When we meet up with that kind of narrow-mindedness, we will need strength of character (and a wonderful posse of supporters) to stand our ground.  The bad news (that my sweet Dr. Speed Dial reminds me of constantly) is that we can ONLY change ourselves, and so those who love to hate, to spew, who have self-serving righteousness behind them will ALWAYS hate, spew and stand behind that false rectitude unless they learn...which leads to change...which leads to understanding...which leads to strength.  And I am thrilled to see that my eldest develop a fortitude of character.  I am thrilled to continue develop a strength of the core of who I am, even in the midst of a storm or several.  I can only change myself.  My son can only change his self.  You are the only one who can change you.  It takes courage.  It takes stamina.  When you fall it will take an enormous ability to pick yourself back up again.  But most of all it takes the ability to look yourself in the mirror and say, "The things that happen to me, I am partially responsible for.  What knowledge can I take away so that I can learn and then KNOW what is necessary to understand and be a positive part of the human race?"