Journaling 2015: Human

Journal prompt: study the face of someone you don’t like.

I’ve been struggling with this prompt for the last three weeks.  At first, I didn’t want to do it, but as the weeks went by, it kept nagging at me like an itch that just begs to be scratched.  So I scratched.

There are not many people I can truly say I don’t like.  Any adverse feelings I have towards a person can typically be attributed to that person’s behavior towards me or others.  This is what typically will make me withdraw from forming or maintaining a relationship with them.  Usually, it’s that I don’t want to expose myself to what I consider to be negative or adverse behaviors he/she is portraying.  However, there are three people in this world that I’ve had tumultuous relationships with, they’ve left me worse for wear and I can say that I really don’t like them.  That was really hard to admit.  Even with that, truth be told, if any of those three passed out in front of me or were hurt, I’d help.  Because it’s the right thing to do.

So … rather than ignore the prompt, I decided to take it on.  I have a picture of one of the people I don’t like.  We used to hang in the same circles so I have a picture to study.  And study I did.

Looking at that picture … the first thoughts came up like bile in my throat and all I remembered was how much she had hurt me.  How much she had spoken unkindly to and about me.  How manipulative she was then and how much anguish I experienced because of her.  It was so difficult, I had to leave the assignment alone for a few days.  Then I went for the second round.  The picture was one of her caught mid laugh.  Her head was thrown back, her eyes bright, her face full of happy expression and absolutely no guile.  I kept looking and realised that she and everyone else are more than the sum of our experiences with them — positive and negative.  I realised that although I knew some of her story, I don’t know all of it.  I realised that just like me, she has hopes, dreams, people she loves, things that make her laugh, things that make her smile, things that make her cry, things that give her anguish.  I know that I don’t know the hurt she’s experienced, that hurt which has caused her to operate in some of the ways she does.  I realised what I know of her isn’t all of her and in that moment, the picture captured more than I saw then. It allowed me to see another facet of her, one I would have probably ignored a year ago allowing me to keep my one dimensional viewpoint of her.

I haven’t seen her in person for about a year now, and while I really still don’t want to ever reconnect with her, studying that picture of her face made me see her as human.

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12 comments

  1. Excellent post! Like you, I have had people in my life that I had to peel back the layers of what I labeled as “evil” to understand them as flawed humans. Humans with a story and experiences that I will cannot begin to understand, as their story is not mine.
    I have always thought that the best way to be a better person is to learn from these experiences and it sounds like you have. Bravo, love.

    1. I tried Shirls, I tried. I had to try even harder when I saw her two days ago. But God is good yes? Helped me get through the feelings I had seeing her in person.

  2. These words speak volumes into the kindness and graciousness of your character. I’m sure this wouldn’t have been a very easy exercise. You’re awesome to be able to look past the hurt!

    1. Thank you so much Sam. The exercise forced me to look outside my own feelings. Reminded me of one of my psych professors who always said “feeling isn’t always fact.”

  3. I absolutely love this post. It really brings home a few experiences I have been having lately.

    At the root of it everyone is human and we often build them up into beasts in order to keep our hatred going strong.

    Such a beautiful piece!!

    1. Thanks so much Asha. I wouldn’t exactly say I hate her, but there’s a whole lot more to our story than I shared here. The exercise forced me to see her as human despite the experiences we shared.

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