Intent. This seemingly innocent idea has become somewhat of a four letter word for me lately. According to Webster’s Dictionary, Intent is the thing that you plan to do or achieve; an aim or purpose. The state of mind with which an act is done. The law even takes it so far as to add that it is the determination to perform a particular act or to act in a particular manner for a specific reason. While I find it hard to believe that people in my life are intentionally attempting to hurt one another, I have found as of late, that intentions are the unspoken truths behind so many pros and cons in life. Whether it is a relationship with a significant other, a family member a friend or even a colleague, we have intentions behind why we do and say the things that we do and if the individual on the receiving end is unaware of those intentions, no matter how pure they may be, the results may be a hard pill to swallow.
I have always been the kind of person who loves to curl up and watch a movie. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first time I’m seeing it in the theater or if I’m watching it for the tenth time at home on my couch. When watching a movie over again, I’ve noticed lately that what I am looking for more than the quality of the story is to perhaps feel whatever emotion was evoked the first time I had watched the particular film. It’s no secret that I’m an emotional guy as anyone that knows me can attest to, so logically I would not want to watch Marley & Me if I’m looking for a good laugh. Along with watching and re-watching my favorite flicks, I thoroughly love to watch old TV shows. Shows such as Leave it to Beaver, Gilligan’s Island and Brady Bunch (to name a few) confirm that I should have lived in the 1950’s when Astroturf was a must and Disneyland had a $1 entrance fee.
In my last post, I mentioned how life has thrown some curve balls and how we shouldn’t take what we have for granted. As emotional as I can get (queue the eye rolls), I have felt oddly numb as I have swung at the pitches thrown my way. Watching these overwhelmingly cheesy and naïve television shows or dramatic movies has been the only thing that has brought me to strike up some sort of emotion. Perhaps I am watching them to remind myself that it is still possible to feel or that I am even alive or in hopes to spark something within myself.
As I have found myself running in circles, my eyes have been opened to others going through similar or even more hurtful scenarios and it has been interesting to watch how they cope. Some hide the pain better than others while some jump on the defense and act out. There are times when we may roll with the punches and there are times we may find the need to stand up and fight for what we believe in. Throughout the last few years, I have had a lot of growing up to do and am certainly at fault for reacting to situations before thinking some of them through. It truly is a balancing act of when to make your point known and when to allow for something that has hurt you to roll off your shoulders and find a way to keep moving forward. As words and actions may, at times, cut like daggers, our perspective has a tendency to keep us prisoner for that moment in time. A very forgiving and important person in my life has helped me to look beyond resorting to my defense mechanism and to search for the intent of the person who has offended or caused the damage. It is from my experience and understanding that as humans, communication is key to having a healthy relationship and too often our intentions are misunderstood. Yet even after acknowledging this as a problem it is difficult to find a more permanent solution when in the middle of a hardship or as some would say “In the thick of it.”
While I have continued in therapy, it has been life changing to acknowledge how my childhood has thus far affected my adulthood (not to say I had a difficult upbringing). I had amazing friends, was involved in theater and while I was the victim of being the youngest child to two older sisters, I wouldn’t change any of it. I was taught to love one another and to do unto others as I want others to do unto me. I feel fortunate that the memories of my youth are ones of joy and happiness. That being said, we all have our wounds that never properly healed. Those moments we still remember and in moments of weakness tend to reflect upon. There have been memories and instances that to this day I have been holding individuals accountable for. What an eye opening experience it has been to realize that in those moments of memorable offense (in my eyes) there was often no intent of such harm towards me. While this may seem so simple, it has truly made me wake up and smell the roses in my own little way. It is safe to say that therapy will forever be a much welcomed part of my life from here on out so as to continue learning how to live with more open minded perspectives.
In my quest to feel emotions by watching movies, I remembered my mother watching Hope Floats when I was younger and I decided to add this one to my list. Just before the credits begin at the end of the movie, Sandra Bullock’s character says something that has stuck with me; “Childhood is what you spend the rest of your life trying to overcome. Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad but it’s the middle that counts the most. You need to remember that when you find yourself back at the beginning.”
In many ways, I now see myself back at the beginning. I have learned that it is no one else’s responsibility to make sure that I am happy. It is up to me to make my life what I want of it. I feel a sense of excitement as I have made necessary changes that I didn’t know I needed to previously make. No matter what has happened in my life, I am a better man today for them and consider myself blessed for the influences and support of those that I have in my corner. Not to dwell on the whole “therapy” thing but one last concept I’ll bring up that I’ve found helpful is to stop comparing my life to others in regards to what is and isn’t considered “Normal.” I grew up believing that the only way to have true happiness was to live my life a certain way. This dogma came in part from my religion and in part on what society deems acceptable. As an adult, I have learned that it is up to me to find my own “normal.” I get to choose how to live my life and because my parents did a good job with my sisters and me, I am able to choose right from wrong. I know I have offended and even hurt people in my life. I have made remarks that make me a hypocrite and I have judged without knowing the full story. I often have a difficult time articulating what I am trying to say in person and have put my foot in my mouth too many times to count. To those I have hurt, please accept my apology. We all have a life to live without anyone making anything any harder on us in our journeys.
My life is certainly not where I want it to be right now. But I intend to change that.