Hello and good day!
A person pulls either side of a string until they pull it taut. They keep pulling until they can't stretch the string any tighter. Then a second person comes by with a pair of scissors and cuts the string.
Immediately, the tension in the string disappears and the two sides flop down loosely.
This is a fair metaphor for what it feels like to hold a grudge against somebody and then make amends. There have been many times in my life when I've had a list of grievances against a person running on autoplay inside my brain.
Did that ever happen to you?
I've had it so bad that I literally couldn't think of a single other thing. It was a replay of the conversation, confrontation, or series of events, over and over again.
Then, to top off the thought pattern with a concluding flourish came my explanation for why they were wrong, I was right, why they are an immoral jerk, and I am an unqualified saint.
While I brushed my teeth. While I showered. While I washed the dishes. While I cut the lawn. While I was at work.
It became the never-ending soundtrack of my life, an underlying tension, pulling me in both directions, stretching me tight, stressing me to the breaking point.
Then, for whatever reason, one of you just can't take it anymore and decides to extend a peace offering.
You get together. You talk it out.
You both agree to try harder in the future to avoid conflict.
You're friends again. The string is cut. The tightness disappears.
The relentless dialogue in your head comes to an end. As long as you both avoid offending behavior in the future, the string remains placid.
It seems to me that you ought to cut the string early and often, when possible.
Of course, some offenses are too grievous to be forgiven.
But most of the time, when you are angry with a friend or family member, this is not the case. It is usually something very minor when considered in the grand scheme of things.
It pissed you off and then it festered.
Here is what got me thinking about this.
I had a conversation yesterday with a woman who is on bad terms with her children. From what I could gather, her adult kids are mad at her, but she isn't mad at them. And she is beguiled as to why her children won't just let it go.
You never know the real deal when you only hear one side of a conflict.
She could have been painting herself in an overly rosy light, but it didn't seem that way to me. She struck me as sober and sincere.
Here are the facts of the case.
The woman married young, had a mess of kids, 6 or 7, and stayed married to her husband for something like 55 years. The husband passed from heart failure a couple of years back.
This woman had been tending to her home for a really long time.
She loved her husband and was devoted to him while he was alive, but now that her children were grown, and she was single for the first time in a long time, she decided to do some traveling while she still could.
The kids grumbled about that. Apparently, they have a misconception about their mother. They think she can no longer fend for herself.
I talked to her for a while and she struck me as extremely sharp, not an old, weak woman at all. And since she already did the traveling and made it back alive, she has proved that her kids were wrong.
Along the way, she met a fellow. She liked the fellow. They hit it off.
He is a widower.
They dated and ended up engaged.
Only problem is that the fellow lives out of state and mom decided to go live in his house, thereby putting some geography between herself and her kids.
Herein lies the conflict.
The adult kids now have kids of their own and they were counting on having grandma around.
They figured she could do some baby sitting and they were also hoping that their kids would have a close and loving relationship with their grandmother. She was a good mom after all.
They also don't like the idea of their mother hitching up with a new guy.
Things are now very tense.
Mom wants to live her life as she sees fit. After having dedicated almost her entire life to her family, she feels she's earned that right.
Her kids think mama owes them a lifelong commitment of loyalty.
The string is pulled tight.
They can barely have a conversation without arguing.
Every communication devolves into a hashing out of grudges.
At the end of our chat, she thanked me for lending a sympathetic ear and left me with these parting words.
"Enjoy every minute you have with your family while you can. You don't know how things will be in the future. Enjoy it all now and don't take a moment of it for granted."
I took that to heart.
After she left, I tried to think about what I would do if I were in the shoes of her children.
If everything she told me was true, and if she isn't hiding anything, then I think there is only one thing to do.
Cut the dang string. I'd cut it into a million pieces so that it could never be pulled tight again.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized how much sense it makes to be a string cutting fanatic.
Being haunted by negative thoughts is awful and the release that comes when you make things right is very pleasurable.
And if there is one thing that her kids will regret looking back, it'll be that they were on bad terms with their mom late in her life, when they just as easily could have been on good terms.
Interestingly, she seemed pretty happy.
She already spent 55 years living up to her obligation. She knows that she lived well and did right by her family.
It's her kids who will suffer more from this point forward.
Anyhow, I hope that this lovely woman and her kids will make up with each other.
For my part, I am going to take her advice.
I'll do my best not to take valued relationships for granted.
I'm keeping my scissors in a holster on my belt.
And I'll be quick on the draw.
Thank you so much for time today.
I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
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