And, if someone offended me, I was supposed to be so quick to forgive that it was like I was holding an "I forgive you" card that I could plop down, seemingly before the offense was even committed. (I'm from very touchy people.) And, I was instructed to "get over it" when offended, but never to expect anyone else to "get over it" when they were offended.
But, that doesn't teach a kid about consequences. It doesn't teach a kid how to make and keep friends. It doesn't make consequences real. It made consequences something to get around. I could do something on purpose that might be offensive to someone and prepare a defense if they found out. But, it didn't teach me what to do when I offended someone accidentally. And, it didn't teach me to respect how others felt or to appreciate their perspective.
I was never good at making friends as a kid. I never learned about consequences and therefore didn't learn how to avoid them or more importantly, why to avoid them. I saw that information could be shared at convenient times that made me look special by making someone else look bad. And, it took years for me to learn different. Years during which my career suffered because I couldn't "play well with others". (That's the feedback I got from more than one manager.) Information was never just a fact. It was a tool to be pulled out and used at the most convenient time.
It took years and years of therapy (which cost enough money to finance an early retirement) to realize why I was so unhappy. Years and years to realize that how I treated people affected who wanted to be my friend, before I realized that my problems stemmed from what I did, not what others did. My problems had to do with how I let people treat me and how I treated them in return. But, always about me.
And, then one day, it all came clear. Okay, so maybe the heavens didn't open up and maybe there were no angels singing and no light bulb clicked on over my head. And, I didn't go out and suddenly make hundreds of friends. But, at least I learned how to make and keep a friend. And, I learned what friendship is really all about. And I learned that talking about people and sharing their secrets for my own gain is a terrible thing to do.
After I practiced being a good friend for a while, the Universe sent me a good man. We made a good family. And, after I practiced being part of a good family for a while, the Universe sent us a child. And, now I'm practicing being a good dad.
Now, the Universe is trying to teach me more about consequences, but now it's about protecting me and my family. Who knew that I'd need to protect us from people that would do unto us what I did unto others for so long or that protecting us would be such a hard thing to do.
Sometimes, protection means letting people go. I've let so many people go because they weren't "safe" for me or my family. And almost always, I've felt like I made the right choice. In fact, the wrong choices have been about people I didn't give the boot to rather than people I did. And, the flip side of that is how many people have I kept at arms length that I should have let in. Good people that would be "safe" for me and my family and never got the chance.And, it's been very hard to figure out how to parent in a way that would teach my kid about consequences in dealing with others. Not just the consequences of breaking a rule. The consequences of hurting feelings. The consequences of playing people against one another. Those are lessons she learned before she came to us and we've had to let her learn the consequences of that behavior because she doesn't move every year anymore. She doesn't get to start with a fresh set of kids every year. And we let her see us face the consequences of the things we do, too. That only seems fair.
For example, we don't get involved in Sydney's schoolyard squabbles. When she tells us about some disagreement she's gotten into with a schoolmate, we talk about how she could have avoided it and what she can do now. But, we don't get involved and try to make things better. Our theory is that if she's going to learn about making friends, now's the time, so she'll know before she gets to high school and friendships become more important.
So, here I am, almost 50 and still learning the lesson of consequences. And, teaching the lesson of consequences while I learn. I'm still making mistakes.
But, I'm learning.
And, if that weren't hard enough, I'm also having to learn when I'm getting consequences for a mistake I didn't make. And, learning what to do about that. It's not about getting angry about being blamed for something I didn't do. It's about learning not to let it affect me when I'm being blamed for it. That's when I should have been taught to "get over it". Instead, I learned to get angry and let that anger become the focus. I'd rather just say "kiss my grits" and be done with it.
I'm learning not to let what others create affect me.
And, the more I learn, the more I can teach. So maybe my kid won't go through life being held back by her inability to "play well with others".
Have a great Way Back Wednesday.
Sorry if I'm rambling or repeating myself. But, this stuff just keeps coming up. I guess it will until I've learned what I'm supposed to know about it. And I blog about what's going on with me, whether or not I've blogged about it before. And, every time I blog about something, I learn a little bit more about myself. So, if you'll keep reading, I'll keep sharing and soon, you'll know more about me than you ever wanted to. Eek! That sounds terrible.