Day 1372 – 1380
I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of entitlement and expectation. There are many people in our lives who will come and go and some will stay awhile. Some of them will earn a debt of gratitude or loyalty. And some will do nothing to earn anything from us but will – by virtue of relationship or manipulation – find a way to make us feel as if we are indebted to them. In the wake of a toxic and abusive relationship, I’ve been considering what, if anything, I owe anyone.
I owe a debt of gratitude to my mother for carrying me in her womb and nurturing me when I was young. I owe my father a debt of gratitude for providing for me as I grew up. I choose to live in gratitude to that which is bigger than any of us and to live a life of service, but that is not a debt. It is a choice.
Those friends and family who have proven themselves loyal and steadfast – to them – I offer my fidelity.
Recent research published by Berkeley provided evidence to what we all know – it’s easier to make friends when we’re young. In college, we go from acquaintance to friend to good friend in 1/3 of the time it takes us as adults to make that same journey. When we are young, we overestimate the depth of our friendships or perhaps we have not lived enough life experience to know what a good friend truly is, and how rare they are to find. When I was in my twenties, I remember my eldest sister told me that if I could count on one hand the number of true friends I have, I will be lucky. I wondered why she thought I had so few friends. Now, after 40, I realize that a person of substance, who takes seriously their fidelity in friendship, will probably be able to count on only a few fingers of one hand (if that) the number of true friends they have.
This is not a sad thing. It is a liberation.
We all hear that once we turn 40, we no longer give a darn what people think of us and we are liberated. I’m not sure that is really what people experience. I guess I can only speak for myself, but from observation of others, I can see that societal pressure lessons on us after 40. We are no longer in our years of slaying our dragons, we are no longer in our prime child bearing years, and we are no longer in our prime matchmaking years either. There are standards to which we are expected to live, in order to fit in to the societal norm. If, by 40, we haven’t met those standards, society sort of sees us as outsiders and pays us no attention.
It is a much different thing to weigh our precious life in the balance against the expectations that people place on us and make the decision that we will no longer live our lives out of obligation. I owe my mother and my father my gratitude, and I truly am grateful for the life they have given me and how they have provided for me. I owe my fidelity to the very few who have earned it. Realizing that my debt ends there, I am grateful.
The rest of life becomes one of choice to live on purpose with joy, excitement and integrity.
Just as I am beginning to feel solid in my path again, someone appeared in my life, uninvited, today. He is a bit player in a subplot to the story of that toxic and abusive relationship that has been damaging to me; a story of abuse of my rights and of my fidelity; a story of cruelty and of deception. He is part of a story of chaos that overtook my life, and took me away from myself, for a period of time. I try to see the best in others. In this episode and the toxic relationship which set the context for it, the privilege was never earned.
I considered the timing of his appearance and found meaning in it as a test of my resolve. I’m grateful for the consciousness of choice.
While I would not be surprised if he was contrite and his appearance might be a gesture of genuine reconciliation and friendliness, there is simplicity in how I feel. I do not want chaos in my life. I owe no debt to anyone who played a part in that toxic story.
Without guilt, when I saw him approach, I closed the door between us.