All our troubles begin and end with people. They create our problems, solve our problems, and work their way into our stories whether we want them to or not. The people you know today drastically affect how you treat the people you meet tomorrow.
People will hurt you. They’ll lie to your face and then blame you when you find out. Staring into your eyes, they’ll swear on bibles, graves, and children that what they say is true, Then, when you believe them, they’ll laugh about it behind your back. Those are the ones who will make you doubt humanity. Those are the ones who make you question who you are and the decisions you make. People can be terrible.
People, however, will also lift you up. They’ll give you pep talks after those moments and remind you of who those bible-swearers really are inside. You get offered fresh perspectives and unvarnished points of view to clear the haze of untruths swirling around your head. They carry you when you’re too weak to move and stand you up when you’re too unbalanced to get up on your own feet. Those are the ones who restore your faith in the world. People can be amazing.
Some will claim to be family in times of need. They’ll ask you to care for their young children and aging parents. They pat you on the back with plastic smiles and call you “nephew”, “brother”, and “son.” You’ll host their parties, feed their pets, and fix their faucets. In their darkest moments, you’ll eulogize their dead, make their funeral arrangements, and console them as they cry outside of hospices. In those times, you’ll think you are with the souls who make you complete. You’ll believe you found your tribe. In some cases, you could be right.
However, there are those who will then turn around afterwards and tell you you’re not family when your services are no longer needed. They’ll ignore what you’ve done when it comes time for their own material needs. What you were told was “our” family becomes “my” family in their view and anything that comes with that is harshly ripped away. They’ll talk in circles and, if you express sadness over your own exclusion, they’ll pretend the sacrifices you made weren’t even needed or make up stories to justify their own self-centered choices. To some people, emotional connections aren’t about emotion. They have no real connections and would never offer the same in return. They’re not real people. They never were.
Other people, in the same situation, will treasure you forever for the things you do. They’ll cherish the love you give and the help you offer; doing whatever they can to demonstrate how much these things meant to them. To those special people, emotional connections are everything. They value them and they love you for it. Those people exist. If you never met them in your life, you might doubt it, but they do.
You’ll find people who lack any sort of compassion for your children. They’ll see them as burdens or annoyances; laughing about how their mere existence must be tiresome for you. You’ll discover how they neglect, overlook, and compete with them in ways that shock you to the core. People like that could be strangers, caregivers, or family. It doesn’t matter. When someone is missing that compassionate component for those you love the most, there’s nothing you can do to change it. Something is broken inside of them. Sometimes you don’t even see it until it is too late. You might never see it at all, no matter how glaring it is. Sometimes you’re so close to a malignant cancer so big that it becomes invisible.
Then, there are those who will embrace your children as you do. They’ll see all the positives that you see because they love you and, through your words and actions, they can see your kids through your eyes. The traits of your sons and daughters mirror the traits that you yourself exemplify. They’re the traits that these people have come to appreciate in their interactions with you, so they appreciate it in your offspring too. They might not be related to them, but you’d never know it by how they talk and how they act. That’s what love is. That’s what family is.
You’ll find those you can share your stories of success and despair with. They will revel in your victories and console you in your sorrow. There are others, though, who will try to outdo you, disregard your feelings, and twist your emotions into a bone of contention against you. They use your hurt to hurt you more. They see your happiness as a threat to their own.
People will laugh at you and people will laugh with you. They’ll be there in your time of pain for support, while others will be there in your time of pain because they caused it. You’ll find people who rip your heart out and those who will piece it back together. They love, they hate, they care, and they don’t. People can be and people will be anything you can imagine.
Life is all about cultivating a circle around you that reflects the person you are. You need positive people in order to live a positive life. Broken machines don’t give prizes. Broken people don’t give love.
The good news is that every day is a new day to move forward and improve that circle. If you have people around you who don’t give you the support you need, it’s time to discover the people who do. Your people are out there. Find them. They’re waiting for you.
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