We have a new toaster oven—a nice one, too—thanks to the generosity of a friend I thought I’d lost. We’d suffered a serious misunderstanding that led to a lot of hurt feelings on both sides. But because of good will and sincere efforts on both sides, the rift was mended. It is an enormous relief.
If one of us had been a different kind of person—the type that nurses grudges and never lets go—this story would have had a less happy ending. I don’t understand people like that. We all make mistakes; we should be willing to forgive. It makes the world a much happier place. If you’ve been wronged by someone, especially if it happens more than once, you might be wary of them. That’s sensible. And there are things that are unforgivable, but they are mighty extreme. People who shut another person out of their lives with a wall of hostility, especially if they are a family member, baffle me.
I’m pretty skittish right now. I’ve got a thing about being rejected and abandoned by people I trusted. It goes back to when I was twelve and I lost my mother to cancer. Not her fault of course, but still, she left me and never came back. Then my father abandoned me when I was seventeen. Somewhere along the line both my sister and my uncle rejected me for complicated reasons that had more to do with them than with me. More recently, my cousin followed suit. It’s enough to give a person a complex. My uncle and cousin were both the grudge-holding types. I did manage to reconcile with my uncle before his death, but I don’t hold out much hope for my cousin. What a shame and a pity.
Last year, I went through an emotionally wrenching divorce. My husband threatened me with divorce right from our first marriage counseling session and kept on making threats, battering me with his anger, and trying to manipulate me until I couldn’t stand it anymore. He went on OKCupid (a dating website) and found a replacement for me before he had even moved out of the house. He’s gone on with his life, has a new home and a new family. And here I am. Abandoned once again.
So when it seemed like this friend was turning on me and rejecting me, it put me into a tailspin. What the hell was wrong with me that I kept triggering this kind of animosity? Thank goodness for my kids and my broader friend base, who all talked me off the ledge. Sometimes this shit happens, especially in families. Everybody gets burned now and again. It isn’t because they are a bad person. It happens to good people, too. When the flames explode, both sides need to be willing to put the fire out. If one side is only interested in dumping on the gasoline, there’s nothing to be done about it except walk away.
In the case of this particular friend, the gas can did not come out. We talked it through and worked it out. My respect for her has doubled.
This is how people of good will create harmony out of the tricky business of human relations.