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Friday, December 31, 2010

Defenses



I’ve touched on this subject before. You can read about a particular knee-jerk reaction of mine here.

Well, now I’m acutely aware of yet another: my reaction to a perceived lack of appreciation. It’s a topic I’ve touched on before (you can read about my toilet paper conundrums here), but recently I experienced it at a whole ‘nother level.

I won’t go into the details, ‘cuz they’re really not all that important per se. Suffice it to say that I acted in what I knew was a generous way. And I was criticized for that.

I shut down.

I mean I went dead...as in road kill dead. No joy, no warmth, no ability to even speak. I died inside.

And I’ve been pondercating upon that ever since. I wasn’t at all that way as a young man. I could easily laugh off others’ gracelessness. Often did. I could accept human missteps with calm aplomb. After all, when it came to “suavity” I was sporting two left feet myself.

I’ve discovered that I’ve changed. Profoundly.

Lately, I’ve been contemplating all the people I’ve known who’d bristle without much provocation. Believe me, I’ve seen “hair-trigger” tempers. Bore the brunt of some. I’ve watched violence erupt in the wake of...well...a mere twitch.

Today, I understand.

I understand because the one thing that all the souls I knew who would react so violently had in common was this: they had suffered. They had all been beaten, bruised and abused...verbally, physically, mentally, spiritually and every other whichway.

I understand/feel how a lack of appreciation inexorably drove me farther and further from my wife. It was that lack of appreciation that drove me deeper and deeper into an emotional abyss from which there was no escape except to destroy what once had been the love of my life.

And so it came to pass that I recently discovered just how much I’ve come to detest a lack of appreciation. It’s a knee-jerk reaction, I know. It’s an autonomous response.

It’s the scream of a soul that refuses to be hurt that same way again.

* * *

16 Comments:

Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

I think, as you get older (well, some of us, perhaps not all), you become more aware of the lack of courtesy.

But, perhaps some people are just so swallowed up by their own issues that they don't even notice when something is done for them. I don't think that excuses them at all. In fact, I think everyone should thank anyone who does or says anything for them.

I think that is just good manners. Showing appreciation is good manners.

Those seem to be sorely lacking in a lot of people these days.

Warm hugs, Jonas... you are definitely appreciated by me. That's why I keep coming back!

Fri Dec 31, 11:00:00 PM  
Blogger RNSANE said...

I am really sorry to hear that, Jonas. I guess one has to keep on plodding ahead. I don't really know you but I would have a hard time withdrawing and living - or not living - as you describe. Regardless, I hope the new year brings people into your life who will appreciate you as you deserve.

Fri Dec 31, 11:25:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Yer a sweetie, Ponita. You truly are. Thank you.

Yes, RNSANE, I got a whole lotta baggage to jettison and I don't have a whole lotta time.

Sat Jan 01, 12:41:00 AM  
Blogger Kass said...

My mother always said, "Ingratitude is a sin." I thought this was a little harsh, but I know what she meant now. All the conditions that lead a person to be so absent from their lives as to not appreciate the goodness of others is a sinful lack of awareness.

I'm sorry you've experienced this harshness, but I know it's deepened your character.

Happy New Year! It's almost here for me. I think you're already in it.

Sat Jan 01, 12:47:00 AM  
Blogger Jonas said...

I pray the new year is happy for you, Kass. The past year has not been easy, I know. Joy comes in unexpected ways...and should happiness rain, well, I hope you're caught without an umbrella.

Sat Jan 01, 12:55:00 AM  
Blogger Lilith said...

How we react seems to have so little to do with what's going on right now and so much to do with what's gone on in the past. I see it in myself all the time.

The cool thing about humans, we can change. Take care Jonas.

Sat Jan 01, 02:23:00 AM  
Blogger Elisabeth said...

There's a Paul Simons and Art Garfunkle song, Jonas that often runs through my mind.

It comes to me again reading this post. The lyrics follow:

I bruise you
You bruise me
We both bruise, too easily,
Too easily to let it show
I love you
And that's all I know.

The first two lines are the most relevant especially after I scroll back and read about your earlier hurts.

Thanks Jonas.

May the year ahead be better for you than these past ones.

Sat Jan 01, 04:07:00 AM  
Blogger June Calender said...

Perhaps it's not about others' inability to appreciate but their inability to be generous, their total incomprehension of your generous impulses, an important humanity they lack. Such hollowness is too common, and sometimes it seems contagious -- it shut you down. That's sad all around.

The darkness inside yourself is what is paining you, but in your blog you show a beautiful light of understanding. You feel time is short -- although I hope you are wrong about that -- but I wish you the ability to stay in the light of your feelings, not the darkness. May the coming year be a beautiful one for you.

Sat Jan 01, 05:47:00 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

I know all too well the sting of ingratitude. I think I understand why we shut down under those circumstances. When you give, you open your heart. You expect for there to be a mutual understanding of the sincerity of your intentions. When instead you are met with ambivalence - or worse - criticism, there's nothing to shield your heart from those barbs.

May your wound heal, and your heart and spirit feel safe to venture forth again.

Sat Jan 01, 09:20:00 PM  
Blogger Wine and Words said...

I'm sorry Jonas. The kind of sorry that knows...not your story exactly, but it's own similar tale. And all reactions, not just knee-jerk, are caused by the pain or joy we have collected thus far. I try to be ever mindful of that, in order to be less judgmental and less sensitive to pain inflicted by others I suppose. Oh, but if we could, never experience that kind of pain again.

Appreciation is more easily granted for big gestures, when it is the little ones that mean most and should be noted...clearly noted, for they took greater effort and sought no applause.

Sun Jan 02, 11:34:00 AM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Oh my, such an eclectic, insightful collection of comments! Thank you all for sharing your insights/sensibilities.

I am grateful to you all for your willingness to share...to offer comfort and solace. You, Dear Readers, have been an unexpected, surprising joy.

Sun Jan 02, 11:03:00 PM  
Blogger lani said...

I'm definite 2011 will bring great things for you ...
stay blessed

Tue Jan 04, 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger Jonas said...

I hope you're right, lani.

I hope you're right.

Thu Jan 06, 07:00:00 PM  
Blogger rebecca said...

My wish for you in 2011 is that you peek out of your protective shell once in a while and see the beauty that abounds. Unfortunately, it cannot be helped that we will be hurt by others and that is the ugliness that is part of this world, but notice too the beauty. The yin and yang of life.

You have so much to offer Jonas. You write so beautifully and there is a beautiful soul in there that needs to be shared with the world.

Best,
Rebecca

Fri Jan 07, 08:32:00 PM  
Blogger anna said...

I'm working hard on being generous without any sort of expectation for anything in return... not even appreciation. I'm working hard to give simply because I want to give. Maybe I'll be subjected to less pain if I have less expectations.

Happy new year, beautiful soul. I have a good feeling about 2011. This will be a year of rebirth.

Sat Jan 08, 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Thank you, Rebecca. In truth, my exhortations to myself are much the same.

I do hope that 2011 will be kind to all of us, Anna. Rebirth is a good thing.

Sun Jan 09, 01:56:00 PM  

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