It was such a joy to write my new book Turn The Page, as it enabled me to pull together so many real-life experiences from the many people I have encountered throughout the years. In the book, I ask an important question to impart a critical lesson.
“Why would you let the person who hurt you in the past have so much power right here and right now?”
I was reminded of some friends of mine who were caught in a snowstorm one Thanksgiving not so long ago. I would like to share their experience with you.
Rick and Julia decided to visit Chicago a few days before Thanksgiving. To be more precise, Rick needed to travel there on business, and Julia, a consultant with flexible hours, often goes with him if her schedule allows.
The weather forecasters, with their Dopplers and Super-Dopplers and pretty graphs and charts, were totally assuring that they would have no problems with snow. Those storms were “hundreds of miles to the north.” We all know how that stuff goes. The night before Thanksgiving Day, when they were scheduled to fly back home to family, a storm came in and blanketed everything with 10” of snow. They were stuck.
A wave of guilt spread over Rick. There would be no way to get back to the usual family gathering.
“What will we do?” asked Rick. “Thanksgiving is such a big thing.”
An Easy Target
After Rick calmed down, he again looked out the hotel window to the snowplows struggling up the streets, once again called the airlines, and appreciated the fact that they would not be flying anywhere.
Julia suggested they take a walk in the snow and have a nice dinner at the hotel’s modest dining room.
“Well…it sounds good, but…”
“It is good,” said Julia, “and it’s about time.”
Every family has one, it seems. It is the person who is appointed or anointed from a very young age as the “disappointment” or “the jester.” Where it began with Rick is hard to say. He was a bookworm and not an athlete, maybe; he was a little more awkward in social settings, possibly; he was not as successful as others in the family, perhaps.
Here is what I do know about Rick: he is active in his church; he is loving and kind; he does well in his work; and he cares about his friends. He and his wife like to spend time together and visit new and exciting places.
Every Thanksgiving, when the family gathers, Rick was ignored, or there were mean “only kidding” jokes made at his expense or funny incidents from his upbringing dredged up from thirty or more years before.
A Wake-Up Call
Julia and Rick walked into the hotel dining room, and they were seated near a beautiful stone fireplace. To their surprise, many people were having Thanksgiving Eve dinner in the dining room. Everyone was friendly and having a nice time. The room was peaceful, not raucous. Several couples bowed their heads in prayer before eating. Rick was very content, and he could see Julia was happy.
How many Thanksgivings, he wondered, had Julia felt resentful towards his family because they were mean to him? How many Thanksgivings did he put up with it just to “keep the peace”?
Most Thanksgivings, he felt alone in a dining room filled with family. In the hotel that evening, he felt connected to the person he knew himself to be.
A week or so after Thanksgiving, a relative called to tell him about everything that he missed. She said that next year he just couldn’t travel. Thanksgiving, she said, just wasn’t the same without seeing his “goofy face.”
“I’m sorry to disappoint you,” said Rick. “We’ve already made our travel plans for next Thanksgiving.”
Before she could say another word, he wished her well and then softly ended the call.
Wisdom knows what you want and what you need. Happiness knows what you have to keep and what you have to let go. When someone says, “You’ve changed,” it only means you’ve stopped living your life their way.
It’s time to take your life back from the people that are causing you pain and making you unhappy. Remember, this is your life, and you are the author of your story. If you’re stuck on the same page, just consider that at any moment you have the power to write a new chapter!