Friday, December 5, 2008

George and TI

I let someone down. Actually two people, friends, but one of them is dead now. I hate being so blunt but that's the reality and I don't want to sugar coat it. When I found out about the death and the cancer, the guilt came back in a huge, tidal rush. Guilt so strong that it was all I could feel for a long time. As usual I became angry with myself for all of the things I didn't do, the phone calls I didn't make, the forgiveness I didn't give. I vilified myself, continually asking in my head, "Why couldn't you have been a better person?" Why couldn't I have been a better person?

I believe we all go through a period in our emotional maturation I will call "George" because I'm too lazy to think of a psychologically more appealing, yet intellectually amusing name. George is a process of relating all of our mistakes in a way that rationalizes them so that we feel less guilt, feel justified for our actions and allows us to "save face." It's kind of an ego centric phase that some of us never evolve away from. To grow out of George requires honesty, not just with others but most importantly with ourselves. It's a deeper kind of honesty that makes us let go of looking stupid or wrong and admit our real feelings in real time. Most of us can realize our real feelings about for instance what a friend did that pissed us off, but it takes a little time and emotional intelligence. At first we think we must let it go because we're supposed to and everyone will be happy if we do. But we can't stop thinking about "The Issue" (TI) and we keep thinking about it, until we either rationalize again why we should let go of TI or realize we don't like TI and start to resent the friend and ourselves for feeling that way. The process could then go one of two ways: A. We are honest with ourselves and in turn use a tactful, loving way to communicate our feelings about TI to the friend. There might be an argument - or not, awkwardness - or not. But then it resolves and...leaves our consciousness. Poof. Or B. We continue to justify and/or deny our feelings without being honest. We continue this "face-saving", right-fighting mentality and most likely feel resentment and guilt - forever. Or at least a really long time.

I think at age 37 I'm learning how to move past George. I'm realizing it's not always all about me. The past is in the past. You never know what life will bring and all the other cliches that actually have a good point. A good friend of mine described friendships in a very eloquent way. She said, "There are Journey Friends and Life-Long Friends. Life-Long Friends can come and go, in and out of your life but they will always be there for you and you for them. Journey friends are only meant to be there for a certain part of your life - you experience a journey with them and that's it, you both move on."
I let my friends down. My friends that should have been Life-Long Friends, but I wasn't out of George and didn't communicate TI so they became Journey Friends. They should have been Life Friends. But Life got cut short.


Julia said...

There are some people who never grow out of George. Some of these people don't even realize that they are George is something that needs to be grown out of.

I'm not even so sure that I've grown out of George yet.

HonestChitChat said...

I love this post! You know I heard something really similar tonight. A woman was telling me that in everything that we are resentful for there is a part we played in creating that resentment. Happy New Year!!!