Home > advice -- not that you asked, only slightly ranty > on some screwed up scale: being judged

on some screwed up scale: being judged

Yesterday, I was having a conversation with a dear friend about secrets. About the telling or keeping of secrets. About the things we hold close to our hearts that other people, for whatever reason, aren’t privy to. If you think you don’t have any, you’re lying. Everyone has something that they don’t share with the world, because let’s face it: the world’s a scary place. And people, even with the best of intentions, often turn into judgmental monsters at the drop of a hat.

I’ve always been fascinated with the idea that one facet of a person’s personality, one conscious choice, can somehow – on some screwed up scale – overshadow everything else. Because we are, too often, a society of glass houses, thrown stones, and Bitch Face. Yes, Bitch Face.

I remember, years back, having a conversation with a different friend over lunch. We were talking about something, and before I could chime in, she answered for me: Oh, I know you’d never do that.

Without warning, I found myself in a very small corner. I smiled politely and nodded. She was, of course, wrong. I had. But she didn’t give me the chance to answer for myself – and she pre-judged me in the process. She took away my ability to choose to share something with her. You cannot share something, if you know that person’s going to grab a pitchfork, torches, and give you Bitch Face. You can argue, hypothetically, that you can STILL be honest. But anyone who’s ever been in that position will tell you: that’s easier said than done.

To me, there are very few situations that are black and white. We like to pretend otherwise. We like to think we’d act a certain way. We like to assume we know how things would/will be. Except, it’s really not possible. Because until you’re in a moment, you know nothing. Why is that? Well, when you’re not in a given situation, you have no vested interest – and no emotional ties. It’s the emotions, I suppose, that change the game.

You make a decision to move across country. No big deal. Then, a week later, you fall in love. That feeling changes everything. Even if you don’t want it to. Perhaps especially then. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done was move far away from nearly everyone and everything I hold dear. A few years later, I moved back. Because you may be able to carry your heart with you, but it’s not the same.

We’ve all done or said things that aren’t shiny. We’ve all danced on a line. I believe that. I also believe that it’s important to try to do the right thing. Then again, I also believe in following your heart, wholly. I can’t say that all people are like that. It’s a scary thing, because the heart isn’t always wise. The heart is rarely cautious. The heart is like Evil Knievel on crack.

Facts, I think, are always only part of the story. The bones of it. The muscle and the skin are the emotional aspects of it. One doesn’t quite work well without the other. A skeleton will still be a skeleton, but it won’t show you the whole picture. And muscle and skin are pretty useless without something to hold it up and together. It’s a functioning partnership, between facts and feelings.

Sometimes, there’s nothing worse than looking to someone for understanding and finding judgment. There’s nothing worse than scorn or dismissal, when you’re just looking for someone to listen. In all relationships, we want to be understood. I can understand you and not agree with you. Better still: I can listen, but not understand you, and still love you. I wonder, though, if that’s a sparsely possessed skill. That thought is a sad one.

It’s easy to love someone for their good qualities. It’s a lot harder to love someone for their flaws. Personally, I adore flaws. I adore the little cracks and such. Because it’s those things that make us unique. It’s those things that make us human.

I don’t want to be perfect. I don’t want to be pristine. I am just me. Nothing, not even my fears, will ever change that.

  1. October 7, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    great post, ali. like I always said/thought, perfect is boring.

  2. October 7, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    Ah, Ali, such a good post, and always the best timing, at least on my clock. I’ve a confession to make: I used to be perfect. I used to do exactly what I was supposed to do and avoided what was wrong and said the right thing and turned from evil toward good. I was worse than boring. I was sanctimonious. (And between you and me, on the inside I was a troll.)

    Then I fell, hard. Actually, I spent a good many years falling. On the tush, on my face, any which way until I was too emotionally bruised to pretend anymore.

    I don’t know that I’m not still boring, and as age catches me, the outside isn’t nearly as pretty as the inside. I sometimes say and do things I regret, then I have to go mopping up the mess and apologizing. But I think the inside of me is starting to look less like a troll and more like someone I like.

    And above all – I realize I’m the last one on earth to render judgment, unless I’m called to jury duty.

  3. October 8, 2012 at 11:39 am

    I’ve been blessed with a lot of epiphanies. Two in particular gave me a fighting chance at being tolerable… though I don’t think that effort achieved critical mass until I was in my late 20s, and it’s only been in the last 6-8 years that I’ve put to rest the really onerous habits and thought patterns.

    The first epiphany at issue was “judge not lest ye be judged” – a masterpiece of common sense, if you think about it. What I hadn’t completely processed until reading your entry is that painting someone into a corner with their virtues is a Bad Idea, one that if it was a snake would’ve bitten me a long time ago. So… enthusiastic thanks for that.

    In my case, the first epiphany led to the second: you take the good with the bad, and trying to take any less is to accept less than the whole person.

    Now I wonder if the Universe is illuminating a challenge to come, and you’re the one holding the lamp…

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