Monday, September 12, 2011

Day 117: Letting Go

First, thanks to everyone who comes to visit here. I check the traffic data and I get some views, and it is extremely gratifying. You provide a lot of psychic energy and it is appreciated.

About that psychic energy...

A few years ago I developed a friendship with a co-worker. This was a guy who was clever, smart, had a wry sense of humor... guy had a nice home, nice girlfriend. It was all good.

I'm not going into the details of what happened later, but let's just say that the guy got into a bit of a scrape revolving "corporate espionage" and decided to make me the fall guy. I was able to demonstrate conclusively that it wasn't me, and things settled. But I was stunned that a so-called "friend" would try and hurt me like that. I could have been fired. That's heinous.

Last week the guy surfaced on Facebook and sent me a friend request. Audacious! In addition to the thumbs-up "like" button I wish FB had a button where you could raise a middle finger. I responded by recapping why this was my choice and the guy said he was sorry for any "blowback" that might have arisen from the incident.


Yeah, possibly getting fired is more than blowback. Some people don't get it. And those are the people you have to just let go.

It's taken me a long time to come to that realization. And it's why I treasure anyone who shows interest in reading what I write here (which includes, apparently, Blowback Boy... hi Ron!), because my circle of friends is purposely small. I know hundreds. maybe thousands of people, but I don't call them all friends. Because friendship has to be meaningful. There has to be a real investment. If I consider you a friend, it's a substantial thing to me. I'm invested.

I had a huge graduating class in high school, but only keep up with a couple of people still. My friends Dale and Ken and I talk maybe twice a year. But they are dear friends to me because our bonds go deep. Like trees. The roots are strong.

For years I was hurt by the lack of a strong relationship with my father. My parents split by the time I was 6. The memories I have of my family being intact are distant, historic and few. For years my father sought... something. But it wasn't me. And it wasn't what I could understand for the longest time. I didn't comprehend how he didn't see how much I wanted to be close to him. It took decades, literally, for me to understand the pain of his childhood and his life, and how he had never allowed himself to let himself trust another human with his love. I finally understood that his distance from me was not because he didn't love me, but because his pain was so great that it was terrifying to love someone. Loving someone means trusting them, and trusting them means they can damage you. For my dad, that damage was too painful to risk. So he kept people at arm's length. I thought it was about me, but it was about him.

He finally found someone he could trust. And she eventually healed my dad and in turn, me. I had written him off. I was sure that we'd just never connect, and hard as it was, I finally got over it. His wife Jo wouldn't let it happen. After my dad recovered from some pretty severe health problems, she ensured that we had some face time to work on our relationship. I will always be grateful for that because we finally found a place where we could acknowledge what we meant to each other.

It was way too late to have our "Field of Dreams" moment but the wall came down. Flawed as it may be, we now talk often and I'm at peace. I hope my dad is, too. Our relationship is the best it has ever been, and that means a lot.

Another story: when M and I were dating, a family conflict came up. Long story short, I was told I was invited to a family event, but she was not. This was long ago and I've been told why that decision was made. I understand their rationale but I don't buy it and think it was wrong. If they really believed what they told me, then I shouldn't have been invited.

That day I made a decision to stand by M and not be bullied by a family member. And today, M and I have been married six years.

One more: Someone very important to me got their feelings hurt and turned the slightest of slights into armageddon. Instead of addressing the issue, or better yet, just getting over it, the incident became an excuse for them to cut ties with me. Seriously, this was an issue that didn't deserve to live past its sell-by date, but instead it became apocryphal. The person simply pulled the plug on our previously major relationship. He's made no effort to heal it. So I've had to move on.

The thread linking these stories may not be obvious. The point is that relationships are fragile and you have to sometimes make some difficult decisions. Sometimes you have to let people go, sometimes you have to try again, and sometimes you have to work really hard. If you have expectations of someone, and they aren't met, then you may have to either compromise yourself or even walk away from it.

It's self-preservation, really.


  1. Great piece, Bruce.

    My father and I didn't speak for over 7 years (my choice, long story). Finally, my sister and her husband convinced me that he had mellowed in his old age and that we could go forward without necessarily addressing my grievances but by being civil and amicable.

    We are decent to one another and I am glad that we can at least speak on an infrequent basis. I still consider my step-father to be my true father, the man who raised me right, but I can retain my ties to my father as well. That took me a long time to figure out.

  2. It's hard. I remember taking a drive with my brother, we were going to visit my dad and I unveiled my plan for confrontation. He talked me out of it, and it took a while to realize that he was right that time... it wasn't the appropriate situation.

    It's really tough when things like this involve family. I think family somehow feels they have a pass to put things on you we'd never tolerate from our friends. Being related to us does not give license.

    Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for sharing your thoughts.