Monday, October 04, 2004

Tie Knots

Over the last almost-thirty years, I've dealt with my share of bad relationships -- both platonic and otherwise. I've used, and been used; I've lied and I've been lied to; I've loved and lost. After going through the wringer the last time, I promised myself I'd do my best to start learning and stop repeating.

After losing a good friend to bad habits and poor choice of company, no matter what I tried to do to help - advice, money, emotional consolation - I came to the conclusion that my energy was better spent elsewhere. The cliche goes, "someone has to want to help themselves before you can help them." Now, when I see the same patterns in others I know, I can step back and choose to limit my involvement. It's not a heartless or callous thing -- it's an understanding of the nature of the problem. A wakeup call delivered from a concerned friend will only last so long before it's forgotten; I have more constructive ways in which to expend my energy.

When it comes to emotional relationships that aren't platonic, the issues go deeper. In the worst case, everyone around the couple can get sucked in -- involved. People become pawns; knowing or not. They can be played and they are used to gain advantage in hurtful and selfish ways by both parties. It's hard to see when you're inside the ugly mess. People choose sides and lines are drawn in the sand. Whispers are made behind backs, and - as I've said before - false smiles and insincere words of consolation or advice are easily misinterpreted as honestly intentioned.

It can eventually get to a point where ties need to be cut. The rope is so badly knotted that it must be severed; acquaintences cast off in an effort to eliminate drama and tighten the circle that surrounds you. It's an unfortunate reality, and it's difficult to be the one to make that choice; self-less maturity versus selfish immaturity. Sometimes you need to lose the battle in order to win the war. And by that, I don't mean the war that exists between the two parties, but the war that exists around all of us. Happiness.

I wish more people were willing to make a mutual concession. However, when you get to a certain age -- say late 20's, it seems the logical truism that age and wisdom go hand in hand breaks down. At a point, life experience mitigates the wisdom gained with age. I have met 30-year-olds who have learned far less from life than some 25-year-olds I know. This isn't a shock; everybody knows it. But it's hard to pick out who to trust from who just paints a pretty picture until, under stress, they show their true colours. Sometimes I'm surprised.