Over the past several years I have made a decided effort to change who I am and the face that I present to the world. I have tried very hard to alter the path that my thoughts automatically take when things happen, and to create different outcomes to situations that are triggering.
I have not always been successful.
I do, however, believe that I have made progress on this goal. I believe that I have become more willing to actually believe that people can be true friends, and that not everyone is out to use me until it suits them to forget about me or to actively throw me aside. I still have times when I doubt even my closest friends, but those times are getting shorter and less severe. I believe that this is good and that it means that in time I actually will wholeheartedly believe that there are people who love me without reservation. The barbed wire battlements are slowly being taken down.
Someone recently said to me that they were tired of walking on eggshells around me all of the time, and that I am just too negative a person. I have to admit that my first reaction was anger and hurt. My second reaction was also hurt, but of a different kind. I went from "How dare you say that to me??" to "Is that really the face that I'm still presenting to the world?" and it has led to another round of self-examination.
Yes, I am still quick to assume that someone is doing something to hurt me on purpose. While I would like for that thought process to finally go away forever, there is still work to be done to shake off the lessons that were taught to me by my peers as I grew up. (You would think that at 46 years old I would be free of what happened to me in my school years, wouldn't you?) But as I re-assess where I am and how I got here, I find that I think I've become a much more positive person in the past few years. It has taken a lot of hard work, and has involved the suppression of a lot of knee-jerk responses (again, not ALWAYS successfully, but better!).
I also admit that there are a select few who see more of the negativity than most, because they are (or in this case, were) people that I feel safe about venting to in order to get the feelings out of my system rather than letting them remain in place where they can poison future thoughts / emotions. That can't be easy for those folks, and I appreciate those who understand and support my need to have safe places to vent my spleen, so to speak, without holding it against me.
In the end, if that is still the face that I actually present to the world, then I have a lot more work to do. But if it isn't, and if it is just that others are still seeing the "old me" out of habit reinforced by my weak moments of relapse, then there is little that I can do to change their perceptions. I can only continue trying to become a better me and hope that someday perception and reality join in letting the world see the positive me that has hidden inside these barbed wire walls for so long.
I don't really know. All that I know is that right now I think I'm a better me than I used to be and that there is still work to be done.
I'm a better me, but still not the best me. Always a work in progress I guess.