I am not always a good person.
There, I said it. I’m admitting it. I’m waving my hand in the air. I’m pointing my index finger directly at myself.
I’m alerting everyone that I have flaws. That I don’t always make the right decision. That I have taken the easy way out by doing that which requires the least effort, which usually equates to something that will hurt someone else.
For such a long time, also known as my entire life, I tried to paint myself as a saint. I was always vehemently defending myself in sticky situations, ones where in hindsight I was clearly in the wrong. All of those times when I said the wrong thing or lashed out or tried to manipulate things in my favor.
There’s that word that I hate. The word that I have been running from.
Manipulate. Manipulative. Manipulator.
That word, all of the forms it comes in, scares me more than anything else ever could. Because I don’t want to be that person, the one who twists things to wind up in their favor. The one who says “A” so that it will make someone feel “B” so that the result will equal “C”. “C”, of course, being the outcome I desire, the one that will make me happiest.
I guess a part of overcoming that fear, of becoming a better person, is admitting the truth.
So yes, I have been manipulative at times. I add “at times” because it’s still too painful for me to admit that it’s been more than that. But it’s at least something. Something for me to say “manipulative” and “me” in the same sentence.
It’s something, I hope, for me to say “I’m sorry.”
And it would be so much easier for me to blame outside forces for all of the shitty things I’ve done, for the ways I’ve hurt people or made things harder on them. It would be easier to blame my parents or my environment or the way I grew up. It would be so easy to bundle up my life’s hardships and dump them out on someone’s lap each time I do something wrong. It would be so easy to use that bundle as defense mechanism, as self-preservation, as a life raft on which to float in the sea of my own bullshit.
I want to say I’m done with all of that. I want to say that I’m jumping off my raft and into the sea, one whose waves I will learn to overcome. I want to say that I am going to do better.
But how many times have I said this to myself? How many times have we all said that to ourselves?
Maybe this shouldn’t be about beating myself up, about chastising on what I’ve done, but rather about examining the dark hole that is human nature. I say “dark” because human nature is not always pretty. It is deep. It is never-ending. It is something that you jump into and can never claw your way out of.
Human nature is so much more than people who are good or bad, right or wrong. Human nature, the way we act, our behaviors, are not expressed in black and white. Each of us has endless possibilities stored inside of that dark hole. We all have the ability to lash out, the same way we all have the ability to act out in kindness.
Maybe human nature, our personalities, the way we react to the hard things, are all choices. Maybe I have, up until this exact moment, decided to act in the negative when I don’t get my way. Maybe I have used tears as collateral. Maybe I have used excuses as sob stories.
Maybe we all do these things. Because the more I think about it, the more I believe that all of us have done things that we aren’t proud of. We’ve all developed unhealthy patterns of behavior for one reason or another. Maybe the problem isn’t the way we’re acting, but our inability to change the patterns in which they exist, the inability to put the effort into fixing the wrong we have done.
Maybe the whole problem is the inability to say we’re sorry. The inability to not just say we’re going to do better, but actually just going out and doing better.
I’m not always a good person. There are times when I’ve actually personified my own definition of a bad one. Times when if I had looked at myself from the outside, if I had imagined myself as being someone totally different, I would have realized that what I was doing was wrong. Manipulative. Selfish.
I’m not always a good person, but maybe none of us are good one hundred percent of the time. Maybe this whole idea of “good” is subjective. Maybe we judge certain things as acceptable when it comes to our own subjectiveness and the way we view ourselves.
Maybe I will continue to try to turn a new leaf and always fail.
But the way I figure it, being able to understand, to analyze, the dark parts of yourself, trying to turn that darkness to light, that must count for something. It must attest to some sort of goodness I have deep inside.
I’m not always a good person. I’m owning it. The most I can do is try my hardest to be a better, kinder, stronger.