Friday, March 7, 2008
It's been a big week. My daughter has been with us full time and it couldn't have been better. But there was also the criticisms of once good friends and the truth from ex family members. And as usual those things did get me thinking.
I like the metaphor of life being like a river with it's ebbs and flows, it's twists and turns, the rapids of white water and the sluggardness of the backwaters. Midlife for me was being caught in the backwater and it is a difficult thing to explain how that feels. You can have all the desire in the world to move forward but that is impossible until certain revelations come, until some of that baggage we have been carrying is ejected and left on the bank, so that we can go forward with a lighter load.
It is interesting that some people believe that I should have been able to just get back out into the current and keep going. Those who actually recognise a midlife episode will know that for many that is not possible. The pondering, the questioning and the ultimate truth come in their own time and at their own pace. Force it and the current might bring you down as soon as you get to that next bend in the river.
In the past week I have learnt that E and my mate and his wife had great expectations about the way I should have behaved. I failed their expectations, but I have wondered if they actually had any right to place those upon me. Does anybody really have the right to expect people to behave in a manner that fits with their beliefs? In these instances I have been told that it was not what I did, but the fact that I did not act to a retrospective timetable that they believe I should have been governed by. But none of them were in the river with me, they were all paddling their own course. None, not a single one of my friends, actually took the time to stop by and ask how I was getting on, whether I needed help, or even just take the time to stroll along the bank with me. So in not taking that time what criteria do they judge me by? None have heard my story.
So here is my advice. If you place expectations on other people and they fail to live up to them, understand that they were yours in the first place. If you make presumptions about people and they don't conform to those presumptions do not judge them too harshly. Recognise that people can be in dark places and are able to hide the fact that they are wandering lost to everyone, even those who think they know them best. Understand that people change, that change can be a positive thing even when it springs from what appears to be very negative situations. But also understand that change occurs at its own pace, you have no right to impose your timetable on anyone else. And finally, if you know that a friend is struggling, offer a hand, it is sometimes enough that your friend knows you are there for them even if they don't immediately take up the offer.