At first, I really took the accusations to heart (that some of my actions are motivated by spite or are unethical, that I've changed from kind-hearted and responsible to mean-spirited and irresponsible) because they were coming from someone who has been quite close to me, so I've been doing a lot of internal review over the last couple of months, which has been quite enlightening. Though I wouldn't have chosen this form for that review to take, I'm glad to have had the opportunity to look at myself with a critical eye.
What I've discovered is that she's right. Or, rather, I can see how the ways that I've changed in the last couple of years are coming across that way to her, especially because of how they impacted her and the way we interact(ed). I have become less forgiving, less patient, more strident and more opinionated about my own circumstances and those of my friends. This has meant an end or a major change to several relationships in the last couple of years, and it may well mean more big changes in relationships in the future.
But it's a happy thing to realize, in this, that I'm pleased with these changes. I don't think I'm suddenly an impatient person, or unforgiving... but I have more of a backbone, and more of an understanding of what I want in myself and the people around me. I'm less inclined to make excuses for people or to drop my own annoyance or other feelings as unimportant or irrelevant, or even as less important than someone else's feelings. I'm more likely to both know and state what I want and need, and I'm more inclined to go after it than I have been in the past.
In a conversation with kcatalyst, I explained that in having this chance to look at the big changes I've made, it's a lucky thing to discover that even though those changes have carried sacrifices in my life, I wouldn't undo them, even to get back the things that I've left behind, or, perhaps, especially not for that.
Three years ago, I woke up one morning in emotional turmoil, feeling that nothing in my life was my own. I felt like I was renting my life: I was in an apartment that wasn't a home, a job that was neither a career nor a calling nor leading me anywhere useful, fulfilling or productive, a relationship that was limited by factors external to it. Nothing I had was my own or was feeding me or helping me become more myself or to grow as a person.
Now, through the changes I've made, both intentionally and simply as part of the growing process, I have moved into a position of owning my life. I have much more direction, and though I don't know exactly where I'm going, I know that I am going, and that I'm the one doing the driving. I live in an apartment that is a home, and where I would be very happy to wake up in 20 years still calling it home, should circumstances and my choices lead me down that path. I'm in a job that will not be my job in 20 years but is giving me the tools to go in any number of directions, and the work of which I'm enjoying very much along the way. I'm in a relationship that is a life-long relationship -- with myself -- where I make the choices that are right for me, regardless of the hurdles they lead me to or the shake-downs they lead to in my relationships. And in a neat trick, the relationships that remain or that have since blossomed are ones that nurture me as a life-owner rather than a life-renter.
I'm no believer in deity, but it's in realizations like this that I feel myself to be blessed.