The last time someone took something of yours without permission or mistreated you in one way or another, you forgave them. After explaining to them what they did wrong to you and listening to their half-hearted explanation, you accepted their quasi-apology and let them back into your life. Yet their undesirable character traits continue to shine. They’ve lied to you again after saying they wouldn’t; or maybe something of yours has come up missing. In either case, that person has broken their promise again. You have to realize that some people will never change, no matter what, and you must either accept it or remove them from your life.
I knew of a man who everyone accused against his agreement that he was a fall-down alcoholic. The first time I saw the man, he was intoxicated and nude in public and being pursued by the police. When this man died many years later, he did so with a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit on a very public street in his birthday suit. It was no coincidence he died under these circumstances and that these were similar to the circumstances under which I met him for the first time.
Some people say first impressions last a lifetime, and they do. I like to think of first impressions like life audits. That is, when you meet most people in your life, it won’t be planned. You’ll meet the sloppy coworker for the first time, and he’ll like have a brown stain of coffee on his shirt. Sassy Susan is likely going to yap your ears off. I use these archetypes as examples of meeting people on their terms — as who they are. The sloppy coworker will say to you, “Excuse the coffee stain; I usually keep a clean shirt.” In reality, this coworker is sloppy. That’s who he is. So, if you meet someone for the first time who’s screaming his ears off at his employees, he’s probably a yeller, and you’re soon to be his next victim. Nothing you say will change the yeller into a whisperer.
That said, we have standards and expectations in our life, and we should. In fifty years, though, when your brother or sister passes away, will it matter who started the argument in 2002 that led to the family fight? Will you be able to replace those missed moments smothered by huge egos and the inability to apologize? Or will you accept that person back into your life, the same one who mistreated you, lied to you and refused to apologize?
We tend to use loosely the words “family” and “friends.” To be sure, some would contend that blood relation doesn’t make people family. If you disagree, how likely are you to claim a distant cousin you’ve never met who may be a psycho? Depending on your relationship or experiences with your family, you may or may not claim this person as your own family. Your moral scale must be aligned properly. Understand what you stand to lose from a petty argument. Sometimes, you lose more than just a friend or family member when it comes to real circumstances such as paying back a loan or just having someone be there for you in your time of need. But some people are more trouble than they’re worth. Friend or family, for those who won’t change for the better, you’ve probably outgrown them, and it’s time to move on.
Jermaine Reed, MFA is a college professor and a writer from Chicago who creates fiction, nonfiction, local news stories and national news stories. For self-publishers, authors and other writers and creatives, Jermaine provides proofreading on Fivver. Please join Jermaine’s email list to get notifications on new blog posts, writing advice and free books. Get his recently released Science Fiction novel A Glitch in Humanity by clicking here.