Nothing unique in saying the beginning of a year is a time of reflection, planning, gauging possibilities, setting a goal or two, among other things. For reasons I’m not inclined to study closely, I found myself thinking about a conversation I once had with a close friend of mine. Obviously the following is not verbatim, but it certainly captures the essence of things.
Close friend: Why do you stay loyal to people that are not in your life and have in one way or another wounded you?
Me: Well, I don’t stay loyal to everyone who has been in my life but the ones you are talking about are people who, if one knew their history, have been badly wounded in life. Parents dying way too soon, spouse dying, a victims of violent crime, abuse, and so on. It’s not lost on me how desperate one can become when all hell breaks loose so I let them know, if that happens, I’ll be there.
CF: But some of these folks have been pretty nasty to you. Callous, flat out mean at times.
Me: That doesn’t mean I don’t genuinely care about them. Also, the fact I’d help someone in no way means I’ll let them back into my personal life. Only if they own their wounding treatment of me and apologize would I consider that.
CF: But still, why the loyalty?
Me: Because few if any are all one thing. And the few people I retain this loyalty for have qualities to their character that in my mind make them rather extraordinary. I care about them. Having said that, they’d be foolish – anyone would be, actually – to mistake my niceness or my compassion for weakness. I won’t put up with nastiness or dishonesty aimed at me. Doesn’t matter who’s doing the aiming.
CF: But wouldn’t you feel taken advantage of?
Me: The thing is, it’s not about me, it’s about someone getting through a patch of hell in their life. I’ve been on my own, completely on my own, since I was 15. Facing the trauma life dishes out alone is brutal. If one of these people were in crisis and reached out to me, I’d find turning my back on them far more unbearable to live with than helping them.