Today I thanked someone for a wonderful and heartfelt message. It led to an exchange about lessons learned. Even from difficult people placed in our lives. And she whispered back to me prompting me to write about the difficult people. And I told her I would whisper back…. about my lessons from difficult people.
To the young boy in my class in fifth grade. I remember how difficult you made my life. I often went home crying because you kept telling me I was ugly, and you told me I had “B.O.” I would ask others, but no one would tell me what “B.O.” was. I thought everyone thought like he did. And I thought everyone felt towards me like he did when he used that very mean voice and did his best to make me feel like I was ugly, and whatever “B.O.” was, it must have been horrible and I must have it. What do I do with that? Do I thank you? Yes, I do. Thank you for teaching me the value of words. I have to admit I am certain I failed at times in my life and I fear I sounded like you. But thank you for teaching me the value of my words and the impact they may have on another. Thank you for being in my life at a time where what you did left an impression, and it stayed with me long enough to learn the lesson. I do not want to inflict that kind of hurt on someone else. Your lessons kept on giving. It was even later in life that I learned that people who act like you? Often times (but not always) act out of a place of hurt of their own. It doesn’t give an excuse to you, but it gives me a better understanding of your cruel behavior. And that was something that helped me teach my children. I could explain to my children that others who may be cruel, they may be suffering cruelty at the hands of others. It doesn’t make it right. But it made my children thoughtful. It made my children want to stick up for the “underdog”. And that is something to be happy about.
To the co-worker in my first adult job who acted out her importance by creating a sub-par working environment for me. You played me like the young, naive and gullible worker I was. You painted a picture of your importance, and used my inexperience to belittle my abilities and the need for me. To you? I thank you as well. Because with your help I learned the value of how to treat others on the job. Again, I know I haven’t been perfect. But I do know to value everyone’s ability and learning potential. The people who wash the windows? I need them, because they help create a professional environment for us to work in. The people who make my rushed lunch hour meal? I thank them with a smile because their giving me convenience to rush about my day makes my life easier, better. The people who just started the job? I know to help them with what they don’t know. And thank them for sharing with me what they do know, job related or not. Learning about one another makes for a better work environment. And I have you to thank for that. I think of you often, and usually when I am ashamed of myself for how I acted around co-workers.
To anyone who ever inappropriately touched me….. wow, that’s a big one. How do I thank you? Of course I don’t. I thank me. I thank me and God above for having the strength and courage to face what you did and learn. Yes. I did learn. Not until much later. But I had the gift of time bestowed upon me to get to the point in my life where I could learn. And the difficult lessons that came from that, were the lessons that I value the most. Because from that I learned about trust. I learned about pain and suffering. I learned about healing. I learned about self value. I learned about pity. I learned about fear. I learned about determination. I learned about control. I learned how to protect. I learned about character. I learned about forgiveness. I learned that I have value. I learned that I determine what kind of person I am.
To the most difficult person standing in my way. I see you every day. When I look in the mirror. I see you and I accept you. The lessons I learn-I learn for you. Despite you. Because of you. For you. I learn because when I look in the mirror I want to be able to look you straight in the eye and say “I am not done with you yet!” I accept, because of the lessons I’ve learned, that you are not perfect. You are a work of continuing education (I wonder if I could get some CEU’s for that?).
Difficult people in our lives. We can’t ignore them all. But if we try, and we are patient, we can usually learn from them. And learning from them, usually means learning about ourselves. For every difficult person, there is a lesson to learn. A lesson about understanding. Or a lesson about when to walk away.
It causes me to pause….knowing that in my life time others may have seen me standing in their path. And I? I was the difficult one.