Monday, May 11, 2009

"If you judge people, you have no time to love them" Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Well Happy Monday to everyone. I hope that mother’s day was all that you mommies wanted and more. I had a nice day with my momma and Belldisa (her new bloggin' name). We did some crafts for Belldisa to give to her mom and had a nice relaxing day at home. The entire weekend was a fantastic break from life. I am very grateful for that.

The reason for my post today is simple and came as a suggestion last week from my cousin Angie. I think she sensed my need to get some things off my chest:-) Judgment (or judgment) depending on your source; it is defined as a formal utterance of an authoritative opinion. It started as a legal term that we branched off into everyday life. I am not talking about legal judgments today; I am talking about personal judgments. We have all been judged and let’s face it; we have all been the judgER. It is almost impossible not to judge in your own mind, if not out loud at times. Hell, we even judge ourselves and our own actions in our head. We second guess and compare ourselves to others constantly.

I have experienced some major changes in the past year. I spent the better part of the past 5 years single. I loved that time to be crazy, answer to no one and do only what I wanted to do. I have always been a long-term relationship girl, from a very young age. The time that I took to be single was some of the best times of my life. I am so happy that I allowed myself the freedom to figure myself out and not worry about another person or thing in the process.

I met Dan a year and a half ago and most of that changed pretty quickly. I knew he was different and I certainly knew that I was different with him. I had never dated anyone with a child before so that in itself was a big step and one that I took very seriously. I didn’t meet Belldisa until Dan and I had been dating for 3 months. We spent a lot of time over the summer together because we had her for 2 ½ months. By the time she went back to her mom’s to start school last fall, I missed her. I hate to admit it but I felt rather lost. That was SO not me. It was hard for me to accept at first. Here is me: Miss. Single, Independent, Carefree, not-a-responsibility-in-the-world, answer-to-no one, all out rebel…missing someone else’s child. Goo. In fact, double Goo. I didn’t like it anymore than anyone else did.

I spent the next few weeks pretty bothered about the changes that I was experiencing. I found myself trying to almost distance myself in an effort to hold onto the old, single and carefree me. Right before school started last fall we had Belldisa for one last weekend. We went camping and fishing with Dan’s aunt and uncle. Dan, Belldisa and I went out on the boat just the 3 of us and on the way back it was really windy and cold. Belldisa wanted to sit in my lap to try to block the wind and so I let her. She started stroking the side of my cheek as we are heading back. The wind is in my hair, nature is beautiful and here I am with a 6 year old in my lap thinking, how did I get here? Belldisa breaks me out of my trance with my name, “Toni?” So I look down and she says “I Love You”. Melting….all over the boat, Dan heard her and he was clearly pretty shocked himself. I decided that day on the way back from the boat that I didn’t care anymore about who I used to be. This is who I am now. I love this man and his child and I don’t care who doesn’t agree with it. It was quite a change for me, I admit but one that needed to happen for my personal growth. The old me would not have even met someone’s child, let alone babysit them by herself. The new me actually does pick-ups from babysitters and has her own booster seat! The new me also asks if you wiped your butt and then if you washed your hands after or not. This is not at all the single Toni of 2007 and before.

So when my parents would say “this guy must really be something if you are dealing with a kid”, I would just tell them that yes he was and she was too. It has made me a totally different person. I will be the first to admit that most of the changes came from within me. Some people have truly embraced my growth and others have been completely turned off by it. I can’t really give you an exact moment that things changed but the moment on that boat is when I stopped caring what anyone else thought. People would say to me “that really isn’t you” and after a while I had to let them know that maybe they didn’t know me anymore. Maybe I am not who they think that I am anymore. People are constantly growing, changing and evolving. Part of friendships, relationships and family is learning to grow with those changes and decisions; learning to support one another even if we disagree.

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”--- Charles Darwin

There are few worse things to me than stunting another person’s personal growth or trying to hold them back from being who and what they truly are. When you tell a friend “you just aren’t who you used to be”, “I don’t even know you anymore” or “I don’t understand who you have become”; what you are really saying is that there is no room for personal growth. So if they don’t remain the same person through their entire life, you can’t support them? If they don’t fit into the little box that you have created for them then they just don’t fit in your life? I have had some very personal experiences with judgment recently; within both my family and friendship circle. This is not the first time this has happened but I sure hope it is the last. The up-side (there is always an up-side) is that these trying times and tests tend to show you who your friends really are.

“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out” Anonymous

I am concentrating very hard on the positive and supportive people in my life and I refuse to give energy to the other side. There are few rotten apples and in this case, they don’t have to ruin the whole barrel. I have some amazing people in my life. I have friendships that range from 30 years (Manda), to grade school (Stacy, Anna, Lacey and Joanna) to many high school friends (can’t name you all) and the countless friends from jobs or friends of friends…oh, and my gays! Sometimes when you have a history that deep it is hard to not feel like you know someone better than they know themselves. It is hard to not step in and tell someone that you think they are making a mistake. It is important that we all support each other without judgment. I recently spoke to my therapist about judgment and how to not let it affect your day-to-day life and she had a valid point that I didn't want to face. Just because you have been friends for a year, 5 years, 10 years or 30 does not mean that you take judgment from others and continue to accept it. Those people don't have to be your friend and you don't have to be theirs. That was a hard pill to swallow for me but a very vindicating and awakening moment as well.

I can certainly look back over the years at things that I judged about or judged really harshly and I now realize it was not my place. I can’t change my past judgments; I can only say that I will try very hard to not be that person in the future. I will consider that everyone has their own set of morals, their own inner dialog and many things that go into their actions and reactions. I will also be more accepting to the changes within myself because I have realized that no matter what anyone else’s judgment; how I perceive myself and my own judgments are what matter most in this life. I am very proud of who I am today.


  1. I had the hardest time for a while, hanging on to old friendships and relationships long after they were no longer good for me (or for them). I have since realized that relationships do not have to stay in tact to validate their existence. Some are meant for just a short period of time, some for longer and a rare few for forever. People change and evolve and sometimes they are no longer well suited for all of the same relationships. It can be hard to let go, but we have to surround ourselves with positive people and healthy relationships.

  2. What a great post, T. I for one get tears in my eyes when I think about the first time I will hear my baby say he loves me. He "says" it in ways now, but the words will be music to my ears.
    I love the Darwin quote, it made me think about bands that have sustained popularity over the years. Bob Dylan, whose fans threw trash at him when he went from playing acoustic folk music to electric rock. The Gratful Dead who went though tremendous changes in their styling and performing of music. Both of these musicians had musical careers that spanded generations and have become American icons, because of what I believe to be their ability to evole and change to suit themselves, regardless of the fans opinions.
    Such a great post. As your friend, I for one will always walk in, especially if the rest of the world walks out.