shoot me in the back if you must
I don’t remember when it happened exactly, but it did. I was probably really young and impressionable at the time and I drank it in: The criticism and judgments of others, the conditional acceptance that comes with colonizing. I heard things like: Be like me and I’ll like you. Don’t be too much of this or too much of that. Conform. Twist yourself into knots. Don’t speak. Behave.
Sound familiar? This oppressive and emotionally abusive language used to hurt me so much. I would internalize it and try so hard to be liked but it never worked. Why? Because there’s a difference between being liked and “fitting in”. You either fit or you don’t. From what I can tell, people invested in me fitting in want me to follow their agenda. They don’t seem to realize that I might have my own ideas and dreams. Have you experienced that?
Moving toward the future we know is waiting for us or living close to the truth in our own hearts seems to bring forth the part of others that is challenged by change. In the movie The Town, there’s a scene where the Ben Affleck character is leaving the life of crime he had been living. He’s talking to his best friend and literal partner in crime since childhood and, as he tries to leave, his friend pulls a gun on him. He replies by saying, “I’m leaving. So if you’re going to shoot me you’re going to have to shoot me in the back.”
Then he walks away.
Sometimes, my friends, that’s exactly what is needed. That doesn’t mean running away from your problems or messes you’ve made (in my experience, those catch up with you), it doesn’t mean not taking responsibility for yourself or your actions. In fact, it means just that: Owning your power enough to take full responsibility for your life which means walking away from people who have been hurting and judging you and towards your destiny.
I recently told My Personal Voldemort (MPV) that I was no longer interested in having a relationship with him. Not because I don’t care about him but because I care enough about myself now that I no longer have any desire to connect with people that don’t understand me and who are hurtful to me. He contended that he had a “right” to judge me if who I am “offended his values”. It’s true! He has every right to do that–away from me.
People like that can’t see the fullness of someone else’s being because they are too mired in their own perceptions of how life “should” be to see that the world is a big place with chromatic splendor. Sadly, they can’t see their splendor either.
Walking away from that energy is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. It blocks my flow. Every, single time I honor my own voice and walk toward what feels good to my heart and body, magic happens. I have more music, poetry and grace flowing to and through me when I don’t let myself get mired down by the judgments of myself or others (being a tender, sensitive creature, this has been very hard for me in my life). The compassionate part of me knows that MPV is hurting deeply. I’m sad for him but honestly I’m happy to be in a place not to let him spill his hurt all over me anymore.
When I don’t let that happen, when I don’t collapse and play small, life changes. I stand taller. I think, speak and act with more clarity like the 14 year-old girl in the video mentioned by Michael Port here. He says:
“You are not here to judge or be judged.
If other people try to project their limited views of the world onto you, don’t accept it.
You are here to act with good purpose in the world, to tap into your own vital capacity to think big and do big things in the world.”
It’s true that we’re not here to judge. It’s also true that judgment is always lurking around in the mind. I wrote last week that I was going to practice non-judgment. I think that lasted about an hour. Seriously. Something I noticed though is that the more I’m aware of it, the more compassionate I am. Also, the more I stand strong in my own truth and don’t collapse into someone else’s version of who I should be, the more chill I am. Self-acceptance brings acceptance of others and life. It flips off the judgment switch and helps me turn on the switch of discernment. That is precisely what led me to sending the email saying good-bye to MPV. I realized that I deserve better.
Spoiler alert: Ben’s character didn’t get shot in the back. He left and embraced the beauty that life had to offer. (me too)
There really is so much beauty and grace to be found in life when we free ourselves from judgment, come home to ourselves and begin to express the fullness of our own being.
When you express yourself and speak your truth, the whole world breathes deeper.
Here’s a little video of music flowing and of a small bit of the chromatic splendor of my life. Sending out love to your tender, beautiful heart today and every day.