You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.”
So we left off last week talking about building a bridge to somewhere; about dealing with little things like righteousness. Let’s talk righteousness. Before I can complete my allegorical bridge, righteousness is a roadblock I need to tackle. It’s a constant battle and one that I see replayed in many lives surrounding me – in those I know and those I don’t – Army or not, righteousness is not exclusive. It’s all too easy to slip the comfort of righteousness on; cowering in false warmth, condemning others as though you have any control over their lives. And here I bring back to mind my new mantra – “The only person I can control is myself.”
Ah – I’ve put on this coat so many times only to be ashamed of my actions, my thoughts and my should-of-dones. When feelings are hurt, you want the pain to stop. In seeking relief, it’s all too easy to fall in the trap of blaming others, searching for a release for what is sitting on your heart. Pain is real and I will never deny someone, one of the most human characteristics – to be upset, to cry or to be angry. When I work with my students, teaching them that emotions are normal and inevitable is always one of my first lessons. How can I scold a child for being mad when so many times myself I am mad? Instead, teach the child to deal with their anger in a way that is not destructive. I have taught this on a daily basis only to come home and forget my own lessons.
I almost cannot count over the last year how many times I have worn my righteous cloak! It’s past time for me to own up to it. Where I go from here remains to be seen, but this is my start.
My moment of righteousness –
The cloak I am currently attempting to shed is my “arch-enemy” for lack of a better word. It’s actually very comical in a “laughter through tears” way. She is one of two women I designated in our unit as being the root cause of my alienation from unit affairs. Just a day ago I extended the olive branch – I literally wrote “olive branch” to her in an email. If there was an emoticon for olive branch, I am sure I would have used it. I am in no way claiming the title of victor for having extended this offer! She had already done this in the past; I deserve no reward or recognition for being the one to do it this time.
Prior to writing the email to her, I had to do a lot of introspection. I asked my husband for his advice. I listened rather grudgingly to another military wife’s advice. Something was eating at me about my “arch-enemy”; I could hear the whispers quite a bit over the last year but every time I imagined a slight on her part towards me, I pulled that cloak ever-so-slightly more tightly around my shoulders. As I heard those whispers echoed in the advice I received, they beat through my heart, loud enough to start shaking my grip. Righteousness. Righteousness were the whispers. Who the hell am I to think I am better than anyone else in this world?”
When writing my email to her, I realized something very important – something that made me reexamine my ridiculous righteousness – if her and I were truly enemies as I had declared, then why did we keep trying to be friends? We had tried in the past, but one or the other would end up mad about something. And yet we would try again. And it hit me, as sure as the ever so popular “face palm” – we had to care about each other! We had to like each other or at the very least not dislike each other to keep trying at this friend thing.
After that realization hit me, I finally understood where my righteousness had come from. I was hurt. In my selfishness, I was hurt because I was hoping that she and I would be “true” friends. I’ve always been a loner; my friends few and far between. I’ve had my heart broken by my best friends as I’m sure I’ve broken theirs. I realized that my righteousness stemmed from the fact that I was hurt that she and I had not become fast, best friends. And so those times that I would examine the actions of my “supposed-to-be-best friend” and summarize that she was deliberately snubbing me were really reflections of the righteousness and self-hate in my own heart.
So – an amazing realization – all the world’s problems are solved? And we will have world peace and live in one United Nation? Um. No.
This is where my building a bridge analogy comes in. I gotta’ get that base down first. No treble (ok, I know BAD, but I couldn’t resist alluding to the catchy song!). I honestly don’t know how this trying to be friends or at least trying to not be enemies’ thing is going to work out. I know what I am hoping for and I think you do too. If she and I aren’t meant to be true friends, I am ok with that. Our lives are richer for the diversity of those we surround ourselves with. That’s one of the things I love about the Army. On this military base, in this little city, in this one state, in our very young country I have come in contact with so many people from around this world and from so many different walks of life. Life is short. And over within a blink of an eye. Living in hate is so wasteful. Living in righteousness is so wasteful. I do not want to waste my life just for the sake of a cloak. I would rather throw it off and embrace my friends and those that could be.
~ This chapter of my life began December 19, 2011, on the day I married my husband, Craig C. Smith, an active duty soldier with 29 years of serving in the Army under his belt at that time. Three years later I jokingly and naïvely announced my official title of “Army Wife” on Facebook when I received a used copy of “The Army Wife Handbook” by Ann Crossley and Carol A. Keller only to be told by one of Craig’s longtime friends that apparently I married Craig for his social security check. I am so glad that was cleared up for me! I thought I had married Craig because I love him. Even though I can seem tough, I am an extremely kind-hearted and introverted person. Comments like the social security check really hurt even though I am may seem otherwise. I have forever been told that I think outside-of-the-box and it’s helped me on many occasions, this being one. As a child, mother and wife I have been molded to be a caretaker. 3 ½ years of marriage and a rocky introduction into Army life, I have found my purpose; to take care of others. To use my creativity and empathy to share experiences, encourage others to share experiences; to knock down some walls or at the very least, to pick at the cracks. Thank you for taking this journey with me to find and share my voice. I hope to help others find theirs.
Join Jennifer Smith over the next six weeks as she shares her personal journey, “Learning as I Go”. Her first blog post in the series can be found HERE.