I have always prided myself on the strength of the shields I have built around me. I mean let’s face it. After everything I have been through, how could I not wear a “you can’t reach me; I can’t hear you and nothing can hurt me now, suit of armor”? I thought it would keep me safe. I was protecting myself from the world. I trusted no one.
But essentially, I was closing myself off from the possibilities of change, of growth and of spirit. I wasn’t protecting myself from the world. I was shutting it out. I was in denial but optimistic. I was going around in circles.
I’ve done things to hurt people and I have been hurt by others. Some of the friendships I have had I have had for forever while others come and go like the cross-town bus. Maybe that means we learned the lesson. Or maybe it means we failed the test. Maybe it means they did. Everyone is on a path and we meet up on different parts of the journey. Sometimes we are not on the same parts of our path and we must go separate ways. These friendships evaporate back into the earth like the mist in early morning. Bless them and let them go.
But some relationships you have to work a little harder at. Be a little more understanding with. Those are the relationships we don’t choose. Our family. I was angry for a long time. I was blinded by it. I didn’t even know who I was angry at anymore. How could someone be an avid positive thinker and preach unconditional love when the underlying anger and blame was hovering just below the surface like a piranha?
I continue to push people away. It’s easier this way. But I am not learning anything from it and quite frankly, it makes me the hypocrite I blamed my family of being. It’s the people that challenge us the most that teach us the priceless lessons about our denials, our truths, and ourselves. I’m ready to learn.
My most valuable lessons of late are coming from my sister. We are really close in age but because of family circumstance, we didn’t really grow up together. When we were way younger we were really close but the odds were against us and now, having lived very different lives, we are two of the most different people I know. Night and day really. But we have decided to break the pattern and give it a conscious effort of discovery, respect and rehabiliation. So far so good.
We had words the other day over something I wrote in my book. I was more than willing to walk away and my life wouldn’t change. It wouldn’t be any different than the on again off again last 20 years of my life. But I saw through my stubbornness and decided to heed my own advise. I changed the paragraph (a big step for me) and I made a different kind of choice. After all if I am going to write about forgiveness and unconditional love how could I turn my back on the one person that teaches me the most about my buttons.
I picked up the phone and dialed her number. I told her I changed the paragraph and I apologized for making her so upset. I meant it. It felt good. And by the end of the call we were both laughing and we both felt so much better. Shortly thereafter I received this email…
“I just wish we could really start over. That means totally forgetting the past and starting new. It's easier said than done. Love is a Decision. We decide to love unconditionally and after a while it will happen naturally.
That means not reacting to me because of what I've done in the past. That means REALLY wiping the slate clean. You have hurt me too in the past. We can throw stones back and forth but what good does that do? In the end we just end up battered and bruised.
If you are telling me something I don't agree with then I need to listen anyway. I want the same from you. No more hanging up on each other and saying "leave me alone". We need to treat each other with mutual respect. We need to finally brake the cycles of our past. And God knows I have tried, and am trying to do that in my life. I am NOT the same person I was before. I've come a long way. I hope you can see that.
No real relationship is without conflict. It's part of life. It's how we handle the conflict that shows how wise we really are. It's easy to be cool, calm and collected when things go our way. But it's when they come against us that we show our "true colors", what's really in our hearts. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of my true colors being black and I've been working hard to change that”.
While, we can’t start over and we can’t wipe the slate clean, we can move forward in humility, respect & love. If we start here and work through the differences, the lessons will reveal themselves. We have always been in constant arbitration, her and I. How could we not be? What I choose to have now, for myself, my friendships and with the one person of family I have left is a future. A colorful future.
So inspired by the wise words of my older sister, I leave you with one question. What color are you?