Why we have to meet people where they are and then let them go…
I have been listening to Shonda Rhimes book (Year of Yes) and it has been amazing – please read it if you have not already done so. I was listening to a particular section yesterday that, as I like to say, hit me in the feels.
She talks in this part of her book about what happens when you start to get truly happy, successful and fulfilled in your life. There are going to be people who no longer want to be with you when you get mentally healthy and strong because they are addicted to negativity and to pain. While this is sad beyond words, it is something that I have learned again and again and oh yes, yet again.
Today is my eldest godchilds 30th birthday – in what seems like the blink of an eye, from learning that his mother was expecting him to flying in to surprise her and meet him when he was just two weeks old. Where oh where have three decades gone?
I met this friend through Girl Scouts in grade school and we were tighter than tight – she used to call us soul sister and soulmates and she was right. She moved away mid high school and we fought to stay in touch before cell phones and the internet were a thing. We worked hard to stay close at least, that is, until I started to feel better and do better – as I grew she stayed much the same. If you know me you know that there is not a judgmental bone in my body around people and where they are or where they choose to be and goodness knows that I tried to help her become what is she capable of becoming. You cannot make people grow and change, even when you really, really want them to. You can fly them places again and again, you can pay for everything so that they can have the opportunity, but you cannot, I have very painfully learned, make anyone choose happiness, light and love.
As this friend was populating the earth with a total of nine amazing kids, I was finishing college, getting married, starting grad school, getting divorced, getting married, finishing grad school all while climbing a corporate ladder. I was BUSY but I always made time for her – got on a plane again and again to see her – met her and surprised her once with a trip to Walt Disney World in Florida… I thought that I was a good friend but I was doing too much and little to nothing was ever reciprocated.
When I held my first Weekend on Forgiveness and Letting Go in 2016, I flew her up so that she could attend and ‘help’. There was no help to be had and that June I flew us to Texas to work to try to help her and that was where it all started to fall apart. She was jealous – I had not seen before just how jealous she was that I was happily married, working full time, working online in addition and partnering on helping others through my weekends. She was so jealous that even though we set aside almost a week to help her heal, it was fruitless and pointless. She complained endlessly about her life but was unwilling to see that she needed to do something different if she wanted anything to change. It was during this time that I realized she was stuck being a victim of the life that she created and that even with nine, count em, nine, healthy, amazing kids, that she could still choose to be miserable because it was all that she knew and she could not imagine living any other way.
She broke a confidence once and I called her on it and said that it could not happen again. She cried like someone was hurting one of her kids – she fell apart – I forgave her and we moved on or so I thought. Within a few months, she repeated that breaking of a confidence and when I confronted her about it, gently and lovingly she lost her mind and blew up my phone. It was past my bedtime so I woke up to a deluge of angry messages that ended with her removing herself from my life. I reached out to her oldest daughter in concern for her well being and it was then that I learned that she had instructed all nine of my godchildren that they were to ‘cut all ties’ with me immediately. Wow – I am not sure that she could have found a way to hurt me more – her kids were my kids, we shared them and to make them choose when I had done nothing wrong revealed a part of her character that had been invisible to me up until that time. I told the three eldest that I loved them and would always be there for them. One said she could not be in the middle, so I let her go. Another was silent and the third one, believing the lies that she had been told about me, went off on my repeatedly. I gave her space to do that and just kept telling her that I loved her and was very concerned about her mother.
Thankfully those kids disobeyed their mother and I was able to wish the eldest a Happy 30th Birthday today. Because my love for them is not conditional on the actions of someone who is hurt and who has absolutely refused to speak to me for over two years. Thirty five years of friendship thrown away and I am, but the reports of others, a pretty good friend. A friend referred to hanging out with me as being Jeanie’d – that warms my heart.
As I rose up and became who I am meant to be – a happy whole person whose life work is helping others I shed a few folks along the way. While the pain of shedding people will always be with me – I wish them well and send them on their way with peace and love and hope that they will become the best of who they are.
Meeting people where they are is being in the moment with them without judgement or negativity – and this I feel I have done.