After five years of isolation from schizoaffective disorder and four more years of recovery my perspective on life was different than most people’s. During those years I had experienced mental dysfunction that made me suicidal many times, I experienced six months of starvation where I had lost seventy pounds, I faced hallucinations, with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder symptoms, and I also struggled to socialize which was extremely difficult. After all this adversity I’ve progressed a long way and I have a different vantage point.
At one point I was talking to my sister who was complaining that her husband wasn’t making her coffee in the morning. She had all the things that I could ever see myself wanting out of life and it was frustrating to hear this ungratefulness. Her husband treats her really well. She has a Keurig by the way. Initially, I was pretty angry to hear her venting about not having her Keurig K-cup placed into the machine and having two buttons pressed. Things of this nature have been a barrier between us at times. Her life has seemed to be a cake walk compared to the adversity I’ve faced. However, I realized I was wrong and I had far more to learn in this situation.
Growing up, we had always been pretty close but during the past ten years, there was some space put between us. The reason for all this space was my experience with schizoaffective disorder but it was also an inability to move past trivial issues. Complaints of the Keurig nature highlighted our vantage points in my mind. I struggled to hang out with her at times because it was frustrating to be dealing with auditory and visual hallucinations while hearing about the K-cups. Having lost sight of the big picture, I had forgotten all the fun and enjoyable times we had spent together in earlier years.
After some introspection, I realized when I’m getting frustrated with things that simply don’t matter there’s usually an underlying reason. I’ve vented anger towards the small stuff when I was really dealing with something greater underneath. Many times it was my mental functionality, my lack of financial resources or any number of things. However, I vented towards the smaller things because I didn’t feel comfortable expressing my true concerns and I had to let off some steam. It’s more of a subconscious process but it’s been my way for a long time. I realized she is similar in this regard.
I also realized that I had to just let things go sometimes and move past these trivial complaints. I was making mountains out of mole-hills and part of this was jealousy. I wished that I could have all the things that she had out of life but it just wasn’t in the cards at the time. Ironically, in order to improve as a person and get what I wanted out of life, I needed to learn to get along better with folks of all natures. I needed to learn how to let things go because everyone has problems, small and large, and everyone deserves some attention and help towards those issues. I realized no matter how much adversity I’ve faced there’s always going to be someone who has or is experiencing far less adversity and also someone who is experiencing far more. This means my stratification of our issues didn’t make me any more or any less worthy of being helped. If someone is suffering I think it’s generally a good rule to just let things go and help them out. When I’ve done this, I’ve found that I’m a fairly likable person. I also had to realize that in my twenty-nine years I’ve done a great deal of living and not everyone is necessarily as healthy as I am. I felt if my problems were much worse than hers then I may have been a tougher human being or more worthy of help. That support wasn’t always there, partially because people didn’t know how to help me. I had to help myself by learning how to be more accommodating towards others, which in turn, would provide me with more friends and a far more vibrant social life. Once I learned to do this I was being less judgmental. When I exuded less judgment the subjects of my conversations changed and I wasn’t having to hear much about the K-cups.
In socialization, I had to learn that sometimes people are just talking for the sake of making conversation and they’re not necessarily fully concerned with the things that they are talking about. Sometimes when someone doesn’t know how to relate to others, they try searching for adversity where there is none. This also happens when someone feels that they are being judged, which was exactly what I was doing almost every time she was speaking. The things people talk about and the way they talk can tend to change when judgment is being exuded, which can many times happen through subtle cues such as body language and facial expressions. This was definitely a situation where she wanted to relate to me but didn’t know how and this was her way of trying to just rekindle her relationship with her brother.
I finally realized that she was extremely important to me and that I was being ridiculous by getting so caught up with such small matters. None of us are perfect and it’s important to look past each other’s small differences and insufficiencies. Determining that she does take care of the things that truly matter and that we love each other, I realized I needed to make a better effort to get along with her. I realized she’s my sister and I love her and I was so caught up in my situation that I wasn’t seeing the bigger picture. Family matters.
By the way, about two hours after the K-cup ordeal, I learned that my sister was seven weeks pregnant. She had every reason in the world to complain about her coffee because the coffee wasn’t the true issue at heart.
Photo by Eric Chan