Learning to let go of the need to be right (Part 1)

It has been a long time since my last blog entry. Without looking, it has been at least 10 months. I succumb to inertia. I am sure many of you know how easy it to give oneself over to inertia. Maybe that is the “Dark Side”. Or at least a part of the “Dark Side”.  So. This blog entry is about my exploration about letting go of the need to be right. And maybe some other meanderings. Please bear with me. As usual there tends to be some back story.

I had met a man a number of years ago. He was the husband of a patient of mine. At his wife’s suggestion we had met periodically over the course of a couple of years. We began to develop a mutual interest in each other. Not quite friends. I always found Tom affable. He was financially successful.  So, I thought there were things I could learn from him. Not quite sure what he saw in me. Maybe my accessibility for friendship. He had left his wife about 8 months ago and in the process sought out a deeper connection to me. Bill was always very upfront about how important the truth was to him. It was my experience that he had a compelling need to be right. Right about politics and world events. Right about moral issues. Right about a spiritual point of view. Just right! He knew. He was right. Tom has a very relaxed frontal personality. Tom presented himself as very affable. Very generous. An easy man to connect with. I found myself often accommodating his point of view by not challenging him.

About the time my relationship with Tom began to deepen, I had broken up with a woman I had been dating for a year. Very intense relationship. I had mentioned to Tom that the reason the relationship had ended was I had revealed to her my use of psilocybin mushrooms and she found that unacceptable. That was not the real reason. It was a convenient partial truth. I had a lot of shame and embarrassment around what it was I did. It was something I had to share with this woman in order to regain a sense of myself. Sorry. An important story for another time. I had not known Tom that long. There was no intimacy between us. I did not feel safe with him nor did I trust him. I really did not know him well at that point.

Fast forward about 2 years. I was just starting another relationship with a woman. Instead of waiting 12 months into the relationship to tell her what I needed to share, I told her two months into the relationship. I had shared that experience with Tom. This time I included a bit more of the details of what it is I did. I was being vulnerable and trusting. I thought it was something Tom could hear, and in doing so reflect back my trust in him. Tom’s immediate reaction was, “I lied to him and that I had deliberately deceived him”. In an instant, Tom made the conversation about him. There was no consideration for my coming forward and sharing more about my life. And, if I could not admit that I had lied, he would have to end the relationship. So where is this all going? My response to Tom was, “would you rather be right or would you rather be in relationship”. Tom tended to process a lot of his personal relationships via text. So, he proceeded to text me his rationale of what I did wrong and how I immediately had to confess my omissions to him. There was a lot of shaming in his texts. My response was that I refused to remediate this situation via text. I was available to meet him “any time any place” to find a way to move back into a relationship, and, again, would he rather be right or be in a relationship? Tom’s ultimate resolution to a relationship that doesn’t work out for him is to stop talking to that person. To banish them from his sphere of influence. Needless to say, our friendship abruptly ended. I was banished.

He had texted me several months later in an attempt to mend our relationship. We met. He listened to my experience of what I needed to hear from him in order to move back into a relationship. His response was, “I need an apology from you, and I felt deceived.” I asked him how you resolve a situation where both people feel they’re right. He could not resolve that dilemma. He needed to be right. Short of that, there was no possibility of a friendship. In the general scheme of things and considering how short life is, it is my feeling that none of what happened was terribly important. I was willing to let it all go in order to reignite our friendship. Maybe a relationship that had no foundation for sustainability and true intimacy. I don’t know. Amoda Maa talks about one’s inability to forgive, and to blame is a lashing out with its origins in a person’s initial hurt somewhere in their life.

I do know that forgiveness, caring, love and relationship is far more valuable than the need to be right. Nature, life itself, has an unyielding ability for forgiveness. Something we all need to practice.

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