On Reflected Lessons In Letting Go...

A while back, my teenaged son ran into some old friends he hadn't seen in years. During the encounter, they all seemed genuinely happily surprised to see one another, and they parted ways exchanging contact information and talking of getting together sometime soon.

And then my kid texted them to follow up.

No reply.

I could see the anxiety it caused him to think that they had possibly accidentally given incorrect information but probably hadn't. There were two of them, after all, and we both knew deep down the chances of both of them inadvertently giving him wrong numbers was slim.

As a mom who wants to protect his heart, a big part of me wanted to tell him to forget about them right then and there. But as a mom who wants to teach him to be patient and reasonable with others and to not jump to awful conclusions, when he wondered several days later why they didn't reply, I encouraged him to contact them one last time on the chance they somehow didn't receive or see his first message.

I kinda knew how it was going to end - they didn't reply - but due diligence is a necessary means to a conscionable end, and I wanted my son to learn that, too.

And then when he wondered aloud once again what the odds would be that wires were crossed (because none of us likes the feeling of being ignored or rejected), I knew that was the time for some loving honesty.

Time to tell him that it was highly unlikely that they didn't see his texts and highly probable that they chose to ignore them for reasons we can't possibly know for sure or change. That he didn't have to think them bad human beings on the whole because they did that - people and circumstances and therefore behavior can and do change over a lifetime - but also given that his conscience should be pretty clear that he didn't cause harm or offense during that 15 minute conversation that ended in smiles and swapped digits (and a truly clear conscience is necessary for a proper diagnosis), he could recognize that particular behavior as inconsiderate, lacking empathy, and in some ways, downright unkind.

And that we shouldn't hang on to the hurt or anger we understandably feel when people treat us that way, but we also shouldn't wait around for more. That we can have compassion about the things that make people behave less than kindly when they do, but it's ok for that compassion for others to end where compassion for ourselves needs to begin if they are in conflict.

I gave him that advice without qualms. It was hard won wisdom from too many years of giving out benefits of doubt like they were going out of style, repeatedly to the same people, and reaping the consequences.

In the ever-instructive synchronicity of the Universe, I find his situation reflecting my own, if with a slightly more complicated adult twist, and in the gracious wisdom of age and introspection, I find myself able to recognize it so much more quickly and clearly than I used to.

And without too much lingering insult (the little bit that's left will probably take its sweet time packing its bags to leave, I admit), I am setting certain people free to teach their lessons to someone else who needs them more than I do.

A Black Bird with Snow Covered Red Hills
by Georgia O'Keefe

May my child learn to do the same in his own time.




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