When I learned recently that the long time saint in my life was not always thus, it took me a moment to process the reality that my exemplar had feet of clay. My love for her was such that I never allowed for human weaknesses or vulnerabilities to filter her shining light.
But it was clear she had a past, and a relative from that time who lived it by her side was an artful narrator of the flaws that spoke to the truth. I had been blind to many events that did not support the picture I wanted painted. I had been wearing blinders, able only to see things one way, unable to consider other possibilities.
The realization led to a revelation. Flaws and all, I did not love her less. She still was wonderful. A wonderful human being. A human being, not a goddess.
It was a relief in a way, to accept that no person is perfect and that we all have flaws and a past that is not absent indiscretion and lapse of judgement. I was forced to take a step back and see events with a new perspective… and a revised definition of what it means to love someone; accepting them for who they are, with their good and bad sides, for there is no such thing as a perfect person.
I confess to being somewhat chagrined; I am so far down the road to have come to that understanding! But it shows that growing as a person, changing things about ourselves and learning something new, isn’t limited to a certain time of life. If we stay open to change, keep an open mind, the learning process continues, be you a Boomer or a nonagenarian. When the student is ready, the teacher will come!
For me, learning to accept and love people for who they are, there is a significant side effect. Accepting the flaws in my “saint” opens my eyes to how unforgiving I have been to my “whipping boy.” Just as I fantasized a loved one who did no wrong, so too there is a loved one in my life that can do no right.
A harsh reality has broken through my self-righteousness, it is I who provides the negative vibe, tuned in as I am to the flaws rather than the attributes, unseen because unconsciously I am trying to make her into the idealized person that doesn’t exist. I must make amends. And I will do so immediately.
Life flows on. We do not stop learning. Within us there is room, copious room for love. We are not dead yet!
(Headline is a quote by Mary Karr, the author of “The Liars Club”)