A couple of days ago, my niece (who has a flair for the dramatic that trends toward the dour sides of things), posted the following on her Facebook page:
"People come into your lives for one of two reasons...To bless you or to curse you."
I started thinking about the people who have come into my life. Some still present, most of them not. Of the people who are no longer active in my life, some were separated by time and physical distance, others by ideological differences, still others by death. I wondered at the use of the word "cursed" - had any of them cursed me? A few had cursed AT me (and I had returned the favor), but cursed my life?
I considered those who had committed the most egregious transgressions: a cheating fiancé who turned physically violent, frenemies, a lying relative. None of them brought curses, in fact - they all brought unintended blessings that continue to serve me to this day.
From the cheating, abusive fiancé, I learned the importance of not giving away my power, and that righteous, well-directed anger is justified and warranted in certain situations. Actually, I STARTED learning it then - the lesson wasn't complete until I had ANOTHER cheating boyfriend. Lesson learned.
From my "frenemies" I learned that a smiling alligator is still an alligator, and it is in an alligator's nature to devour, so it pays to be vigilant. It also pays to toss those suckers a big branch to play with while you make your getaway. #outofmylife
From my lying relative, I learned that blood ties are neither my credit nor my fault. Words like: "mother," "brother," "uncle"... connote biological ties, but not the intimacy of relationships. Intimate relationships have to be cultivated and tended.
On the flipside, there have been MANY, MANY people in my life who have brought blessings:
My mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother (I think of them as the triumvirate), who taught me that I could do ANYTHING. Not only do I still believe them, but I believe that we are ALL capable of much more than we believe we are.
My 2 grandfathers who showed me that "good man" does not equal "punk." Learning to define what's within the range of acceptable and what isn't has undoubtedly saved me a world of heartache.
Good friends who have kept me from hitting the ground (emotionally and financially) when they saw me slipping - most of the time, without my having to ask. They taught me to watch out for others - even those who are too proud, stubborn, or foolish to admit that they need help (I've been all 3, alternately).
So I posted a reply on my niece's page:
"People come into your life to "teach you," and that is ALWAYS a blessing."
She probably thinks I'm a nerd (and she'd be right), but this has been proven true, time and time again, in my life. And that's one more lesson that I'll keep. Hopefully, in time, she will also.