Strangers

Queen Esther!

I was doing the dishes yesterday afternoon and an interesting thought came to me…one I’ve never had before. I was thinking about what someone told me that an old high school boyfriend said about me (15 years after we’d broken up) when she ran into him in a bar. The break up was initiated by me, and he was really upset, but at the time, I didn’t care all that much. I was on to other things; boys, drinking, and a variety of semi-crazy behaviour and thought. What he said to my friend was: “I look forward to the day when Mary comes crawling back so I can tell her no.”

I haven’t seen this man in years and I have no idea how he feels now, but my thought yesterday was, “I have changed so much since high school when I was an angry young girl, actively drinking, taking drugs, trying so hard to find happiness and feeling so deeply distressed and alone”. I think this is what grudges are all about; holding a snapshot of someone in our minds and not allowing them to change, so even if they do, we cannot see the change, won’t allow it, otherwise years of hating might seem wasted.”

But the truth is that any negative image held in our minds, drains our life, our energy and our ability to embrace the new. Resentments and anger are exhausting and limiting in the most severe way, making us feel old and tired. My intention for this weekend is to look at everyone that I meet (or even think about) and especially those that I know,  as if I’m meeting them for the first time.

What we know of other people, is only our memory of the moments, during which we knew them. And they have changed since then. To pretend that they, and we, are the same, is a useful and convenient social convention which must sometimes be broken. We must remember that at every meeting, we are meeting a stranger.” T. S. Eliot

16 thoughts on “Strangers

  1. I just came downstairs and checked my email – no post from Mary – darn it – when – lo and behold – here it is!
    I will now start my day by reading it and loving her cat photo.
    Thanks for being here for us.

  2. Thank you so much for this post. I have been holding a lot of negative thougths about someone and after reading this I am ready to let go of the thoughts and to let go of having the person in my life because I truly do not enjoy being with her. Judging her diminishes her and me. Letting go, letting go, letting go…..

  3. Mary, thank you for the wake-up call about letting go of old perceptions and concepts…nothing really does stay the same in life. And you are so right about how holding onto old, limiting thoughts of something only drains us and limits us. I find it easier to forgive and let-go of thoughts I might have about others, but not about myself. The self-critical voice is equally capable of creating havoc in our hearts! This weekend I will concentrate on dismissing old thought patterns about myself as well as others!

    • Jack just said the same thing to me Debra! (the importance of dropping old, negative thoughts about ourselves too)…I told him that he should put that thought in a comment, so he will be thrilled that you did…thank you. I love the idea of even looking at myself as a stranger that I am meeting for the first time…very powerful indeed!

  4. Another wonderful post, Mary. And, yes, I was thinking also about how much I cringe as I think of myself “back then,” even knowing that time and maturity and insights create changes. I love the challenge to think of everyone as if meeting them for the first time.

  5. Living long enough, Mary, is a gift in allowing us the reflection of our past; some of it good, some of it not so. Life is never without challenges and never without experiences that we might have done differently with had we been able to. It sounds as though the gentlemen carried his anger for much longer than he needed to in regard to his earlier experience with you but how rewarding it is to look back and know where you’ve come from. In the end, it is ourselves we live with. I would think you’d feel immeasurably proud of where you are today.
    SandyP in Canada

  6. Esther looks so regal sitting there! Your blog today was right on and I am doing that this weekend
    Thanks Mary

  7. I think this pattern is so vivid in family relationships. I know that I chafed for a long time under the identity assigned to me. Labeling ourselves and others (oh, yes, I also indulge in assigning identities to siblings….) is like being caught in a time machine. Nobody grows. We age, but don’t grow. This makes me think of something I read about “loving beyond what you think you know.” Maybe I don’t know who certain people have become beyond my packaging for them, but I can extend my best to them anyway and hope that I am granted the same gift. And I can let myself off the hook, too !

  8. What a great post to come home to after several days away visiting my sister. I can easily and vividly recount the 6 or 7 events in my 61 plus years that most impacted my future and provided meaningful and significant life lessons for me. There were times when I outgrew myself (and others), missed myself, lost myself, found myself, outdid myself, underachieved, overachieved, pushed and pulled…while you have taught me not to give the past new life, not to dwell on it, when I look back and reflect, I marvel at where I am today. The old ‘if I only knew then what I know now’ doesn’t really make sense to me any longer as I know I had to live those lessons to get here and feel the freedom and love, peace and compassion that I feel. There were times when I looked in the mirror and indeed saw a stranger…wondering ‘how did I get here’ or ‘what am I doing here’…and while vividly surreal, those were some of the best soul searching moments…so it is only fair that I give the same ‘break’ I have given myself, to others! We only really ‘knew’ those from our past for an instant in the scheme of time…and they only knew us for that same instant. My heart is not the same and neither is theirs. Mine feels bigger…and more open…and more full…and more accepting…and less judging…Thank you Mary for a quick trip down memory lane…I’ve not thought of things from this perspective and it feels healthy and right.

    • Wow, Kathye! I remember all those “bad girl”, “mad girl”, “sad girl” incarnations I’ve lived in this life that make me wonder who those people were. It amazes me to I think of the experiences and reactions that painfully propelled me into growth but I’m grateful for it all because all of it contributed to knowing and becoming the ongoing process that I am.
      Learning how to love who I am, just as I am, continually teaches me to love others more deeply with much less judgement. I can’t blame anyone who doesn’t find forgiveness in their heart for anyone that I’ve been in relation to them but I also find I can’t hang onto blame, guilt or shame so much anymore. We’re all just human, yet so much more than our human frailties.
      Thank you, Mary, for another very thought provoking and honest post.

  9. Spot-on post, Mary. You always give us so much, everyday, every post. Thank you.
    P.S. Esther is royalty…no doubt about it.

  10. To shed ourselves of the way we have always seen things, to try and remember why it is so wonderful to be around little children whose eyes truly sparkle at the discovery of every ‘first’ in their lives – to see things fresh and born anew. Like stones continuously being polished by the steady flow of the river waters, we are not ever quite the person we were yesterday or will be tomorrow, but we as humans possess the awareness to look, know, and affirm the good in everything and everyone. It’s there. .

  11. I will make your intention my own, Mary. Thank you for continually inspiring and teaching. You are my compass.

  12. Seems to me that holding a grudge like that is the ultimate egotism — like that view is the only possible right way to see a situation, which of course revolves around just that person. What a statement about oneself! To say “when she comes crawling back so I can tell her no” just means the person waiting for that is sitting very still in their life, and can see only their own interest and influence in the situation. And your statement about that was how much you weren’t really thinking about him at all, as you merrily went about learning the lessons of youth. Most of the people who have ever offended us have moved on with their life-path, and we have to make a choice of whether to do so as well, or stay stuck in our self-important mud. Food for thought, eh?

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