Many years ago a friend’s husband died. In the months that followed his death, she told me that she could no longer trust me because I wasn’t there for her during his illness and after he had died. When we were on “active friendship” status, I’d always felt that I had gone above and beyond what I could have, to be a good friend and to be there for her, but as the years passed, I realized that this had just been my ego. There were so many times that I didn’t want to do something (attend one of her many functions or events) but I was always worried that if I didn’t go, she’d be mad at me so I went (and considered myself to be a very good friend and human being for going out of my way and sacrificing my time to do something that I really didn’t want to do…I could go on but the absurdity of my thinking just makes me laugh).
Eventually this kind of relationship must come to an end, but I’m not talking about the relationship that I had with her, I’m talking about the relationship with myself. Eventually I need to become honest with myself (and my motives for doing anything) or I will live in a state of fear, anger or guilt (or all of these) that I am not enough and not trust-worthy because in truth, I am not being honest and I am not to be trusted if I do not dare follow my own guidance.
Back to my friend.
I really wasn’t there for her when her husband died. But if I had been honest and said no to her during the years that preceded his death, maybe the relationship would have ended earlier. I met with this woman many years after her husband’s passing and was struck by how guarded she seemed as she talked about several men she’d dated and how she’d been hurt and betrayed. She told me that she had always taken the morally higher road and was so disappointed in people who didn’t. At one point she said, “Hurt me once, shame on you. Hurt me twice, shame on me” and I thought, “Wow. That is a limiting way to live”. Because in my experience, people who I am close to are going hurt me and am going to hurt them too…. and not just once or twice. Do people who I love lie to me? Yes. Do I lie to people I love? Yes. Am I inconsiderate, short-tempered, or mean at times? Yes. Are they inconsiderate, short-tempered and mean to me at times? Yes. Do I stay in intimate contact with everyone from my past? No. Do they stay in contact with me? No. Why? In my experience, the answer to this is that there just isn’t a yes in it anymore. Could this change? Yes.
I’ve come to see that people who consider themselves to be “morally superior” are usually the least honest (with themselves) people, and this includes me. When I am engaged in moral finger-pointing I am, in that moment, a dishonest hypocrite. So, where to go with this? Well, it is the holiday season. A time for getting together (or thinking about past get-togethers) with the people whom we have had the toughest time with. I can drag all of my past hurts, slights, insults, and horror shows to mind, or I can laugh, look at myself as a major player in all of this past drama and go forward as a lighter human being. I can come home to my own heart which never calls me bad, and never calls another bad. I can celebrate being alive as a multi-faceted being, no better than any other. I can say yes to invitations that feel life-affirming and I can extend these invitations too. I can say no to invitations that don’t feel like a yes, but I can do it in a spirit of Love (love of self, love of other). I can become free now.
“Reality is always the story of a past and what I love about the past is that it’s over.” Byron Katie (from the book, A Friendly Universe)