The Janus Effect

I am juxtaposed between the different versions of myself: who I was and have been, who I desperately desire to be, who I am, and who I’m becoming.

There is also this dichotomy of perception about who I am:

Perception 1) selfish, self-absorbed, weak, whiny, manipulative, lazy, willing victim in an abusive relationship, looking for others to fix my problems, flaky, unreliable, a deceiver of self and others, unstable and unsafe; not to be trusted or relied upon; an emotional and psychological vampire best kept at a safe distance in denial of my own nature.

Perception 2) strong, courageous, inspiring, motivating, transparent, and real.

The truth of the matter is that I have been all the things in the first viewpoint, for such a long time that I hurt and wounded several people – one of the most important people in the world – and regardless of any word or deed on my part, this is the filter through which I will be seen and evaluated. Because of who I was, they don’t know who I am and don’t trust the changes I write about, believing that consciously or not, I am manipulating perceptions by only presenting an edited version of me. This perception, which I earned by my own actions and decisions, is no longer about who I am, but about who they are and believe me to be. It will change, or not, according to their choices.

Those who have the secondary viewpoint are primarily those who do not know me in person and/or have not lived through being in relationship with me for any length of time – mainly those of you who read and follow this blog and whom I interact with on social media. There are a few, whose job it is to be encouraging and supportive and know me in the context of their role as a social service provider, therapeutic practitioner, educator, or pastoral care provider. If they have any leanings toward the first perception, they keep it under wraps and only share implications of the second perception.

I do my best to be real and honest about who I’ve been, the struggles of character and inner dis-ease I have, my flaws, foibles and character defects. I’m not deliberately subsuming or obfuscating those things about myself. I’m just doing what I can to understand where they come from and what drives them, so I can make real changes that will last. I’m striving to become the person I want to be by focusing on the qualities and actions which create that reality.

Honestly, in my deepest self, I find it much easier to believe the things in the first viewpoint and battle against the inertia to follow that mold. As twisted and sick as it may seem, that place is my comfort zone. I don’t want it as my comfort default, but that’s what it is. Rather, that is what it has been.

Something interesting is happening though. As I step out of that negative comfort zone more and more and do the difficult things like exercising through the pain and fatigue, set aside my worry and fear to truly listen to the worries and fears of another, do what I am able and let go of self-criticism/blame/judgment for not doing more, I find that I’m less comfortable in that old comfort zone.

I don’t have a new one yet.

Each time I get the positive feedback, it is accompanied with an electric shock of pain and I want to push it away and reject it. Knowing the damage I’ve done and the pain I’ve caused, my past lies and manipulations cause me to downplay the supportive, encouraging, and complimentary things people are saying to me – at least in my own mind. Then, I realize I’m working hard to do and create a new person within.

I am not the person I was, though all of that is foundational to the person I am. I still have a long way to go to become the person I want to be. The good news is that I’ve come farther in the last year than I did in the previous 20 and I’m much closer to who I want to be than who I used to be.

According to Encyclopedia Mythica:

Janus is the Roman god of gates and doors (ianua), beginnings and endings, and hence represented with a double-faced head, each looking in opposite directions. He was worshipped at the beginning of the harvest time, planting, marriage, birth, and other types of beginnings, especially the beginnings of important events in a person’s life. Janus also represents the transition between primitive life and civilization, between the countryside and the city, peace and war, and the growing-up of young people.

I am a transitional being moving through the gate of my past, entering through the door to my future. I am in the in the threshold between the two: gazing back to understand what I need in order to keep moving forward. I am living the Janus effect.

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3 comments

  1. I understand why you would be hard on yourself for the past. Yesterday is gone. That doesn’t mean that those who were hurt don’t matter. Make ammends where you can. Accept that you can’t fix everything. Move forward today visioning who you want to be (were meant to be) because just like with driving, your car (life) will go where you are looking.

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    1. Diana,
      Thanks. The guilt, shame, and blame, both directed at myself and others, that used to be attached to me looking at the past is mostly gone. Being able to look at it now, from my current perspective and in non-driving moments, is helping me to learn from my past driving mistakes and see where the adjustments need to me made by me are and which things are out if my hands that I need to leave to the mechanic to repair.

      Things are moving in the right direction, and so am I, but it’s hard, slow, and painful work.

      Blessings,
      Kina

      Like

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