A year ago. What was I doing a year ago? It’s funny, my short-term memory is shot. I’ve had a fun life. I’ve had a hard life. It’s nobody’s fault, I had a wonderful childhood. I was presented with opportunity, but I must’ve been blind during that phase. I suppose it is my fault, but I don’t like to put a negative tone to it. I have a lot of regrets. A lot. But looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve learned a lot. And in spite of it all, I turned out to be pretty kick-ass.
Short-term memory. A downfall that runs congruent with spinning off on mindless tangents. My boyfriend is currently upset with me over something that I [allegedly] did or said on Monday. Monday. . . How long ago was Monday? I can sum things up over a very broad timeline. Seasons – what was the weather like during this period in my life? A fragment of an imagine in my mind’s eye may spark something, and I’ll usually be able to spitball onto a memory from there. Lucky occasions, it’ll wind up being an exciting and vivid memory that leaves me feeling like I stumbled upon some forgotten treasure while deep cleaning my closet. I usually have to count backwards, though. Right now. It is November of 2021. So, a year ago takes me back to winter of 2020. . .
Winter of 2020, I was the property manager of a low-income apartment complex. Let me tell you, that job was Hell on Earth. The Silver Lining [as there always is one, even if you have to squint to see it] – My backbone started to sprout. I have been a bit of a doormat for the majority of my life. A pleaser, a yes-sayer with a smile and a positive attitude, even though it’s only at face value and I usually don’t ever mean it. As a magnet for narcissists and arrogant, selfish assholes, I can tell you. . . every single relationship that I have ever been in, comparable to running towards a carnival of red flags. Except I’m the only clown at the carnival.
A year ago, when my backbone started to sprout, I was learning to set personal boundaries. My job title demanded it. As a property manager for Section 8 housing, every single person that walked into my office was a sob story. For a different time on a different day, I will tell you mine. We all have one. Some people’s sobs have created oceans, while others wade through puddles. No matter the depth of the current, you can drown in any of it. What I mean is that nobody’s hardships are harder or easier than anyone else’s. When I started my job here, I wanted to help everyone. I felt deeply for every single one of them. Part of my backstory has given me the gift of insight. I used to be a liar, a master manipulator. Well, I was a fully functioning meth addict. I had to be in order to appear normal on the outside. I could see through these people coming to me with all of these issues. Why they didn’t have a home, why they were evicted from their apartment, why they didn’t have any money. Not a single one of them had an ounce of accountability. I take that back. Few of them did. The few who had hit rock bottom and knew deep down inside that the only way to elevate was to take ownership and control over their situation and to rise up, because nobody else was going to pull them from the flames. Even though I wanted to yell at them that it is their own fault that they are broke and homeless, I still wanted to coddle them. I wanted to save them from their own self-created Hell. I didn’t want them to feel the loneliness or the empty void that I felt at the lowest point in my life. Slowly, though, as my backbone grew from a sprout into a small plant, I stopped. I stopped putting so much of my own emotion into these people. I stopped caring. Don’t get me wrong. I care, and I always will care. I can’t kill bugs. I can’t harm a life. I care too much. So, I forced myself to build up that wall. Those strangers didn’t reciprocate the energy I was putting out; it was a waste on my part. The few of them that wanted to survive life did it on their own with the tools and the information that I was able to provide for them. I eliminated emotion and focused on basic, black & white fact. I no longer took my work home with me. I set up a barrier between home-life and personal-life, and I no longer lost any sleep at night over these people.
I left that job in June to go take care of old people. That’s where my heart is. That is my purpose in life. A year ago, I was smiling naively at strangers, taking on their burdens as my own. Today, I don’t have any patience or empathy for people who have zero-accountability. I don’t have time to listen to an excuse. I don’t have time to watch blame being tossed around. And quite frankly, I don’t care. I don’t care if it is the fault of someone or something else. Over the year, I have learned that only I am in control of my own happiness. I am in control of my life and what I want to do with it. Over the next year, I need to learn to apply this to myself. My goal is to stop building my life around other people and to finally live for me. Many will call me selfish. What I do know is this: “The only people who get upset when you start setting boundaries are the ones who benefited from you not having them.” Someone else said that. I read it, and it was like the top of my skull exploded.