Life is full of experiences: some good and some bad. Some are great and some are horrible.
Much of life is the interaction between people. You find your place in the world and began those connections, acquaintances, and friendships. But also, you make mistakes in communication, manners and simple actions. Some are easily forgotten, and there is little harm done to any party involved. But, some are stronger.
Those stronger ones tend to stick with you especially as you get older and began contemplating your life and your actions. Mostly because you wonder what you could have done differently; what you could have done better. I know I have caused pain, and wish I could take it back.
The one worst example from my life is hard for me even to think about much less discuss, especially on paper! But this column is about mistakes in human relations; and, I have had plenty. This one still hurts although it happened almost 40 years ago. And that’s just from my point of view. I can only imagine how it must feel to the person I wronged.
In college, I was part of the "Big Brother/Big Sister" program that paired people with children who didn’t have a strong male/female role model (besides their single parent). It is a great program! I was so happy to be part of it, and my ‘little brother’ was great. He and I had such good times, even if it was only once a week for an hour or so.
After a couple of years, this preteen became a teenager, and I got closer to graduation. I had never thought about how this relationship would end. I guess I knew I would move away, but I probably thought I would keep in touch with him. Anyway, I became involved with a serious girlfriend and eventually became engaged. As all this happened, including graduation, I spent less and less time with my brother and eventually just left town to begin my new life.
I didn’t even say good-bye.
At first, I did not even think about him or the relationship. Everything that was going on with me was all so new! I didn’t think much of anything else. But, it was absolutely horrible how I treated him at the end.
How did he feel at the time? What did he think of me? How did it affect his development or did it at all? How does he feel about all of it now? He was about eight years younger than I was, so he’d be in his early 50s now. Did it scar him? Has it cost him an ability to make and keep strong relationships?
I think about that time occasionally and am just crushed by how I handled it. I was more selfish than the definition of the word. I didn’t even say good-bye! What kind of person does that to a kid?! It hurts me when I think of what I did because I know it was so wrong. Guilt, in this case, is truly the right emotion.
I can’t make amends. I don’t remember his name or know where he is. It is just a big regret I will always have to live with. I have tried to learn from this ‘bad’ mistake on my part; I attempt in all relationships to do the right thing. It’s small consequence, but I think I do it because of the guilt from all those years ago.
Apparently, I am horrible at personal communication because all of my bad experiences involve how I botched the relationship with the way I handled it. In the past, it’s been immaturity, lack of experience with certain personal dynamics and misinterpreted ideas and concepts. It’s always been my fault; I will own that, for sure. I wish I were better at interpersonal communication, but this is my lot in life. It doesn’t excuse anything I’ve done, but I know where it comes from. It doesn’t make things right, but I honestly try to learn from these mistakes. And I truly hope people know how sorry I am.
As part of life, we have to live with our mistakes. Regrets are real. I know because I live with them.
Dwayne Wilder is a Sherman native who currently lives in Denison. Wilder’s Whole World is his commentary about life in Texoma and the world. Wilder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.