When I hear the term “Fresh Start” I think of Paul Blanco’s Fresh Start program. It’s for people who have bad credit and need a car. But, today, I’m cashing in on a Fresh Start of another kind. The kind for people who are relationally bereft, those who’ve found themselves light on emotional currency, perhaps due to misunderstandings – which are the cause of so many of our ills.
I make a real effort to keep my relationships clean. I don’t like to have misunderstandings floating about or passive-aggressive dogs at the door. I tend to address those things as soon as possible, though most easily with people I trust.
Sometimes things get out of hand. For me, it’s often a tough call to identify the line between reasonable tolerance and where I have a reasonable right to set a firm boundary. You know, I don’t want to be the “curmudgeon on the hill” nor “the push-over that lives up there.” (click to Tweet) I think I’d rather err on the side of the curmudgeon, but fear I can more easily fill the shoes of the push-over. Boy, after I give too much, am I fun to be around or what?
For over 15 years my husband and I have shared a property boundary with a good man. Several years ago his wife, our sweet and gentle friend, passed. Our neighbor changed – or maybe not – but our relationship with him did. Sometimes, it’s hard to know what a person is going through. We can catch glimpses into their tortured world or their seemingly unreasonable thinking, but we never really know. We human beings do not deal well with uncertainty, so our imaginations often fill in the gaps. We may try to have conversations with these people to assess actual facts, but sometimes those exchanges go askew and we retreat, telling more stories about what must be happening.
So, for several years we’ve clung to the thin thread that joined us and our neighbor, and it seems it became thinner and thinner with time. I’m sure both of us suffered a considerable amount of frustration, which most likely stemmed from the evil twins – misunderstanding and feeling unheard. To our credit, the 3 of us never quit trying. Then, today I had a reason to approach him with a potentially difficult conversation and, to my surprise, it was easy. We discussed all sorts of things, including how we’ve worked things out for over 15 years. I think, sometimes the history is no longer a valid complaint. The potential, the peace, the beauty of working it through for a decade and a half prevails, and you realize you have something substantial. It may not always look the way you wish, but it’s worth a fresh start.
So, sign me up Paul Blanco! I’m ready to leave the past behind, forge forward and leave the ugly stories to other people. I prefer to tell the true stories and be a good neighbor. Benjamin Franklin said:
I invite you to share insights and stories of your own in a comment below.
Michelle Andres is a writer and artist. She writes this blog to share tips for a well-lived life and finely run art business…just for you!
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