The older I get the more I realize how much I must depend on myself. When I was younger I was always surrounded by family. My grandmother was there until I was almost thirty-six years old and she gave me a lot of life lessons, but the one thing she didn't give me was a sense of independence. This is strange because she was a very independent person. Yet she was getting older too and she and I were always very close, so I think she wanted to keep me somewhat dependent on her so that she wouldn't feel alone. This worked for a long time but I slowly began to live my own life. I started making my own friends. I found things that made me feel good about myself. And slowly I outgrew the need to be dependent on my grandmother. She didn't adjust to this very well but deep down she knew it was just nature taking its course.
Time passes very fast. One day you wake up and realize that half of your life is behind you. The events that brought you to the place where you realize this begin to fall into an order that you can look upon as the path that is your life up to this point. You've reached a plateau, so to speak. The mid-life crisis is a very real event but it is how you deal with it that dictates the decisions you make for starting the second half of your life. You can either settle into a rut where you don't even think of making changes to yourself, which sadly a lot of people do, or you can begin to find things to occupy your time that enrich your life, feed your mind, and let you grow spiritually.
When I found myself looking ahead with no real direction other than the routine I was used to, it scared me. I wanted more. I didn't want to spend my entire life in one place, experiencing little that was new or exciting, and making excuses for being sedentary that alleviated any self doubt I might have felt. I dived headlong into the future and started taking the very chances that once I would have been warned off of by grandmother. I knew where she was coming from. I could understand her reliance on what was secure. But she clung to a way of life that only remained secure because she didn't let herself entertain the idea that were other ways to live. She was a product of her generation to a large degree. Like many people who survived the Great Depression, she went to extreme lengths to make certain that she always had enough of everything to get by. She didn't see the need for wanting more than she had and she didn't approve of dreams or ambitions that might require one to step outside of the comfort zone that a monotony creates.
I now see living my life in a different way. I cherish the lessons I learned from my grandmother about being self reliant and doing for oneself, but I do not subscribe to her theory that life is only meant to be what you can get from it. No, I think life is about learning to make your own purpose and learning how to nourish your dreams into goals, and then your goals into realities. It takes a lot of inner strength to go after something outside the realm of your experience. It takes even more fortitude to get yourself started on the path you choose for yourself.
One of the most important things I learned to do was to allow myself to be what I call my own rock. I came to the realization, after Granny died, that nobody could make me happy but me. I had to take responsibility for myself. I had a lot of learning to do and I was ready to get on with it. I had a great deal of inner growing to get through and I sought out the people who could help me get to the next step in my personal evolution. I looked to the very people who I admired and I let myself learn from their examples.
The most personally empowering thing I embraced was the knowledge that nobody can hurt me unless I give them permission to do so. I can choose my own reactions to outside influences and in doing so I can deal with things in my own way. When someone comes at me with anger, I do not respond with the same. I take a moment to think about what's going on and then I decide what to say - or what not to say - before proceeding. I don't let anybody dictate what my emotions or my reaction will be. I choose those for myself. In doing so I am in control of what happens from that moment forward, if only at least on a personal level.
Another big tenant in maturing on an inner level is in never letting another person have so much power that they can affect how you'll feel about any given thing. This applies to every aspect from love to loss to gain to growth. I see so many people fall in love and then when things don't work out they plunge into a deep abyss of heartbreak and maudlin self pity. They practice self destructive habits like pining away for someone or something that never cared about them half as much as they thought they did, or should have, in the very beginning. They've let themselves become so emotionally attached to another person that when change occurs they can't deal with it in any other way than to let themselves become living portraits of tragedy. I will never do this to myself. I will never set so much store in another person that I won't be able to function normally without them. It's a trap to do this. A bloody trap.
You can love someone with all your heart and soul. You can allow yourself to feel and give love. But you don't have to become dependent on the love you're feeling to the extent that you allow yourself to believe you can't do without it. Broken hearts are useless. They serve no purpose. You must always be able to take a lesson from every experience you have but you must not let yourself lose sight of the lesson by wearing blinders of any sort. Be vigilant. Be strong. Be ready to carry on. If something hurts, find what you need to get past it and then get on with living your life. Whoever you allowed to do this to you is certainly not suffering, I'll tell you that. And you can take it to the bank that they moved on before you even knew they were leaving.
A personal purpose is a very important thing. Without one nobody can plot their next step in life. You've got to have a reason to get up in the morning and finding that reason is our own responsibility. Some people never learn to do this and it's these people who make me the angriest. They let things happen to them. They don't get out there and say to the world "I'm here and I'll have mine the way I want it." They don't make their own purpose.
And that is a big part of what life is all about in the first place.