As I said in a previous post, I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few months thinking about who I want to be–the sort of personality traits that I want others to associate with me.
The first trait is really more of a worldview supported by many character traits rather than a single character trait.
One of my most fundamental beliefs is that every human being has the potential to become an incredibly wonderful, amazing person. It’s true that not everyone actually takes advantage of this potential to the fullest, and some may actually use their most useful character traits (such as intelligence and determination) for ill, rather than good. Thus, while I am fully conscious that not all people *are* good, I know that they *could be*…and so I prefer to treat them as potentially awesome humans.
Thus, this vision of myself includes treating everyone I meet with dignity, respect, tolerance, and kindness; seeing each person as valuable individuals rather than one of a nameless, faceless group.
By no means does this mean that I turn a blind eye to people’s faults. If I knew someone to be dishonest, I wouldn’t trust them with my money; if I knew someone to be verbally abusive, I would not entrust that person with my children even for an hour a week. But I could still respect those imperfect people for the strengths that they do have.
This is easier said than done, of course. There are times when I need to balance being kind to others with protecting my own needs, and at no time has this been more true than now, when I am going through the process of divorce. My soon-to-be-ex is not very interested in finding compromise, which means that I have to take a firm stance on pushing for a fair deal for each of us. And yet I still want to do this while remaining kind and civil.*
This has been a serious struggle for me. I admit that there have been times that I have called UnlikelyDad names, have yelled at him, have walked away from the conversation because I couldn’t hack being nice any more. I can only keep on trying. I figure if I can learn to be tolerant, respectful, kind, and courteous during this awful process, I can exhibit those traits any time, anywhere.
* Some people may find this to be strange–if I could be civil, why couldn’t I save the marriage? Answer: I could no longer turn a blind eye to the fact that my soon-to-be-ex wasn’t trustworthy, which doesn’t leave much of a basis for a marriage. I don’t hate my ex; I pity him, though. His life is going to be seriously screwed up because he doesn’t understand honesty and integrity.