… Without Expecting They Will Do The Same Unto Me

When I was in my twenties, one of my cousins, with whom I was raised, responded to a concern that I had presented to him. He spoke of being quite willing to solve my problem. His solution was to kill the person who was my source of angst, if necessary. That statement did not move me one way or the other; what he said afterward was indeed profound. It must be clear that my cousin was “street-wise and street-tough”. He saw himself as my protector since I was “book-smart” but “street-dumb.” During this discussion, he concluded with an insightful comment: “I would easily do that for you but I wouldn’t expect you to do the same for me.”

I never forgot those words. I did not think he was calling me a coward. He was acknowledging and accepting who I was — he was the killer; I was not. He respected who/what I was. I took that conversation to heart and embraced its wisdom. [For the record, it was not necessary for my cousin to do any killing to protect me]

I once pursued the affections of a remarkably attractive woman. She said I was the most intelligent and romantic man she had ever met. Nonetheless I was not blind about the limits of her feelings. I eventually told her that I was in love with her but that she was not in love with me and I no longer expected that she would ever be.  Like my cousin, I acknowledged and accepted the difference in what we each brought to the relationship. [This was even after I had no choice but to deal violently with her ex-boyfriend who was stalking her and threatened me] She eventually married someone else.

In a relationship, no matter its nature, there are context and structure, resulting in the way things work. Relationships can be uneven or lopsided — sometimes deliberately or sometimes unconsciously. Coping with an asymmetrical relationship [and they all are, in one way or another] can pose a challenge because it can be a source of angst and grief at worst or excitement and variety at best. Understanding and accepting this phenomenon will go a great distance in avoiding disappointment. Such was the case in the above two examples. I did not disappoint my cousin; he accepted that there would be no reciprocity. The sweet darling did not disappointment me; I accepted that there would be no reciprocity.

This approach has served me well. Nonetheless, I must admit it is more of a defense mechanism than anything else. Sometimes I resign myself to the reality that to avoid hurt/disappointment, I should accept that sometimes I will give more than I receive — much more. Sometimes I should be willing to do for a friend what s/he would not do for me.  If I am wrong, then I am delightfully surprised. If I am correct, then I am spared pain. Only when I fail to do this, am I disappointed and grieved; then I quickly resort to the safety of this defensive frame of mind. In short, I try to do unto others without expecting they will do the same unto me.

Published in: on October 24, 2013 at 9:45 PM  Leave a Comment  
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