Not too long ago, I listened to an author talk with Terry Gross on the radio program Fresh Air about his experience as a minor character in his parents'--who were also writers--stories. In short, he described how uncomfortable it is to be a minor character in someone else's drama--since we are all front and center in our own lives, it is somewhat disconcerting to be marginalized in someone else's life.
Yesterday, I had an inversion of this experience. Not only did I loom larger than expected in these people's lives, I also failed them on multiple levels dating back four years.
Imagine my surprise. Here I was, blithely living my life, working my multiple jobs, raising my family, and for these things I am charged with negligence, narcissism, and insincerity. Apparently, my offenses spring from the fact that I neglected these so-called friends for my family.
Really? I had no idea that they--and not my family--were supposed to come first. Somewhat disconcerting when others attempt to impose their value system on you--even more so when they condemn you for not living your life their way.
And the other piece was that they hadn't communicated ANY of their expectations to me. They just assumed that I knew exactly what they expected of me. It would have been nice if they just came out and told me instead of ripping me a new one after the fact.
Although re-reading the screeds enlightened me. Suddenly all the negative vibes made sense. Still, I gave them both a lot more than they gave me. Not that I keep score on these matters, but damn, you'd think they actually contributed something other than angst.
This acquaintance detailed multiple insults, perceived and imagined, with minute precision. I wondered why they hadn't seen fit to break up with me years ago, since my apparent failures as a person were so onerous, numerous, and without any hope of redemption. Not since I ended an abusive relationship almost 25 years ago have I been on the receiving end of such intensely hateful spewage (not surprisingly, he, too, thought I failed him, never mind his own shortcomings, dalliances and outright deceits).
Because I am a lemons-into-lemonade kind of gal, I sifted through the accusatory bile and bloviation with a cool head. I know my shortcomings, and honestly, the sin of pride is one I go toe-to-toe with daily. I own that, and I fight it, and I am constantly trying to better myself by getting the better of it.
And you know, maybe that was the point of all that invective. I really am so blessed in so many ways by all the good and wonderful people in my life that I do have to be reminded that there is real evil at work in the world, that I cannot afford complacency, and that I always need to be on my guard.
And I am all these things. Sometimes the reminder, however, is a good thing--no matter what form that takes.
Meh. Everything for a reason, right? It's all teachable. I'll simply continue to count my blessings, be thankful I can count that high...
...and move on.
And he would do well to do the same.