I lose people. That may sound like the title of emo poetry, but it’s kind of true in my life. Family, friends, and others have all been here one day and gone another. It’s been a consistent cycle.
“Losing” others in my life stretches beyond age or gender. It’s not just one type of relationship, but many, and departures have come in a number of ways. Whether it has been through conflict, natural progression, or death, people have drifted away from me more often than one might expect, at least from my observation. I have had three best friends in my life and none of them made it to 40.
Issues spring up with that type of revolving door. It leads to some interactions gone too soon and others, due to abandonment issues, left to fester well-beyond their shelf-life. Spoiled food and spoiled feelings age at the same spoiled rate.
The thought is enough to make me want to grab anyone currently in my life by both shoulders and demand, “Why are you here? Don’t you know I’m damaged? I can print you out a PDF of names to call right now who will tell you to run away.”
Sure, most of the names are ones who I feel justified and losing touch with. For every negative thing they tell you, I can vehemently defend my character with claims that I am not solely at fault for anything they are telling you. What are they telling you? Who are these people? Where do they get off? Who sent you that PDF?
Ultimately, though, what does self-assuredness have to do with any of it? At a certain point, the sheer numbers alone can sometimes make me feel like I’m the one who is broken inside. And even though I may not have done anything, will that be my consolation when they’re gone? The moral high ground is great, but it doesn’t have room for more than one person to stand on at a time.
Even my rightest times have been cluttered with wrongs I’ve done strewn throughout. No one is perfect and, in the long game, even the most noble intentions have shades of gray. I’ve made mistakes. I have been flawed and selfish and dishonest and all those things that others have said about me. Sometimes I am, at least.
For that reason, I do beat myself up now and again. I think most people, if they have true empathy for others, will do the same. You may have been right 99% of the time with someone, but that 1% will haunt your dreams. Most of us live in that 1%. We let it consume us.
I know this to be true because I have let myself feel that way; resurrecting every sin I’ve ever committed and crucifying myself over them each day. I’ve remembered situations where I was treated terribly, yet zeroed in on the one thing I can blame myself for. I learned my lesson a thousand times.
And that persistent feeling of self-loathing during times when maybe I can provide myself justification for my actions, is why I know I’m evolving. I’m growing. On the surface, it sounds like a terrible way to spend your free time. Why not throw the baby out with the bathwater and put past strife behind you? What’s done is done. Why search for your own shortcomings among a laundry list of those displayed by others, as I might have seen them?
The answer is that without that pointed introspection, there is not way to be able to change. I can’t be a better man for the people walking through my life’s entrance unless I learn from the ones walking out the exit. If I don’t remember what made me a bad friend to someone else, I won’t be able to be a good one to the next. I don’t know the things I did wrong unless I think about them.
Trust me. I think about them. Nearly every soul I’ve ever wronged in any way gets a memorial in my head. You have to really be completely at fault to be washed away forever. Not saying people aren’t on that list too, but just not as many.
I’m trying to be better all the time and it’s unfortunate that some of those who have floated off into the cornfield didn’t get a chance to see those changes, but those changes might not have been able to happen had they not put on their corn-picking gloves and ran off into the horizon. Addition by subtraction is a real thing, but it can also be a painful thing. It almost always is.
Typically, I’ll write these posts and expect that one or two people might think it’s about them. This one will have a million people thinking that. So, if you are one, before you send the text, email, or registered lettered, the answer is, “Yes, it is. And no, it isn’t.” Ultimately, it’s about me. After all, the only one whose actions I ever have or ever will control is me.