Generally speaking my line between good and bad, black and white, and right and wrong is thick, dark, and immovable. This causes no small amount of consternation, frustration, and aggravation to those near and dear to me, but this is as much a part of who I am as my height and my eye color. It is the way I have always been and I don’t see it changing any time soon, although I am working to soften my delivery when I have to explain to someone (especially people I want to continue having a relationship with) why what they are doing is horribly incorrect and misguided.
In my old age, however, I have had a novel situation arise. I have a certain family member who I would like to keep in my life. But they have a certain family member who they would like to keep in their life. And this family member is downright wicked. This family member has done me dirty over and over again, but lest you think I have done something to provoke their behavior, they have done pretty sketchy things to most of the people they know. As an interesting aside, which isn’t an aside at all, they have even done a fair share of dirt to the person who wants to keep contact with them. File that under ‘Things that make you go hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm‘.
This shouldn’t concern me at all, except that the person I want to keep in my life (Are you confused yet? -Keeping score?) let’s call this person Max (Because this person’s name is not Max…)- likes to defend the other person- let’s call them Satan (just for kicks…)- a lot. Max likes to tell me how I misunderstand Satan and judge him too harshly and am unfair to him- but then tells me that I shouldn’t say anything when I try to explain why I think the way I do. I am frustrated about the relationship and aggravated that Max is such an eager lap dog when it comes to Satan, and although I have an inkling about why this is the way it is, it’s still hard for me to stomach. It’s hard for me to countenance keeping someone in my life who is willing to stand behind someone who is such a not great person, but I have my own reasons for not wanting to ditch Max. So in this equation, Julie=Max.
Except that Max isn’t bad, just misguided.
Or maybe I am justifying.
But here’s how I justify: If someone is truly evil- for example, a child molester, they must be cut off. And a person who stands by such a person is supporting evil and they must be cut off too. Certain things are just unforgivable and that’s pretty much it.
Other sins, though, are a little grey-er, and this is where I flounder. Let’s say someone lies about minor things. That’s bad, but not lethal. I don’t think they need to be completely shut down, but I wouldn’t be able to say they were an upstanding character either. There are people who do things I personally disagree with, but they are legal, so this is grey for me too. An example of this is drinking alcohol. I can’t stand drinking. I hate it, and hate being around it. But if you are over 21 and you occasionally indulge, I certainly couldn’t say you should be cut off, although I can tell you I 100% won’t be around you while you are doing it. Obviously I wouldn’t tell someone else not to have a relationship with you based on this, but I don’t think it says great things about your character either. Sorry, but it’s true. This is a great example of me being very extreme in some of my beliefs and this is one of the reasons I know I need to try cut people slack sometimes.
So back to our story.
I want to stay connected to Max. Max wants to stay all up in Satan’s good graces. Satan’s behavior definitely encompasses the grey, but doesn’t extend into the clear black. So what’s a principled renegade to do?
I’m so much more comfortable living in the world of clear boundaries. I get crazy with ambiguity. I want to be proud of myself that I am growing as a person and learning to tolerate other people’s idiosyncracies, but instead I feel like a sell-out and a hypocrite. I’m not sure if I am making the right decision because Max is important to me, or the wrong decision because I am tacitly supporting someone else’s bad behavior.
It would be so much easier if everyone was just as intolerant, stubborn, and neurotic as I am😉