It was a cold night many, many years ago. Our flight had just landed. We claimed our bags and waited inside the airport for our ride to pick us up. She was a good friend. Hatta and I had been there for her when she needed it and along the way we grew closer. However, there was always an unreliable undercurrent with her. She had disappointed us before and we had managed to overlook it. Every time, every letdown was met with an excuse. Every time, every excuse allowed us to put it in the past and stay friends. Until that snowy night when Hatta and I were left stranded at the airport. With no word from her and far too late in the evening to call anyone else, we took a $75 cab ride home. From that moment on, I recognized the type of person she was and vowed to never allow myself to be disappointed by her again.
"The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them." - Maya Angelou
It's important in life to recognize who a person is. You don't have to like it. You don't have to even be a part of it. But you need to believe it. For me, problems arise when a person shows who they are and I believe it's a rare instance, a one time occurrence, not examples of their true self. I want to see the good, and I convince myself anything less than is not real. I overlook the bad and allow myself to be hurt, disappointed, frustrated, all because I want to believe it will change.
As I grow and learn, it's become easier for me to acknowledge. Take my sisters for example. I love them dearly and they are both extremely unique and different from one another. In the past, I have struggled to maintain a consistent relationship with either. It's been hot and cold for the better part of my life. One minute we are best friends, the next not even speaking. Until I acknowledged who they are, I found myself a victim of disappointment again and again. Now, without surprise and minimal hurt I can say, "that's just her." And I'm quite sure they both say the same about me.
There is, however, a fine line between accepting what a person shows you and allowing yourself to be a doormat, to be taken advantage of, to be hurt with a promise of change. How do you know when to break ties and cut your loses like I did with my friend all those years ago? When is enough enough? When does a person's character become more damaging than, "Ha ha...that's John for ya!" When does the emotional cost of maintaining a friendship become too great? What does it ultimately take for you to believe what a person has been showing you all along?
These are the questions I find myself lying in bed at night thinking about. Wishing I had the ultimate answer.