UNCLE! AND AUNT!

by Steve Clem on January 27, 2013

As the saying goes, your greatest strength is your greatest weakness. I’ve long known that my biggest strength/weakness is my interest in helping my friends when they are in need.

Simply put, I’m at my happiest when I can bring happiness, or eliminate sadness, for the people I love. In the past, I’ve been burned badly by this. Whether intentional or not, I’ve gone too far in trying to help someone, and they either didn’t appreciate it, or worse yet, have taken advantage of me. I’m learning slowly in life when to say “UNCLE!” and throw up the white flag.

This past month has weighed very heavily on my heart. Two amazing and dear friends of mine, who I was fortunate enough to watch as they rekindled their love for one another in my presence, ended things again just before New Year’s Eve, and I’ve finally decided I finally have no choice but to fly my non-freak white flag, and scream not just “UNCLE” but “AUNT,” too.

I’m not a psychiatrist. Or a psychologist. I might be a psychopath. But I do know enough about seeing a real and true love at work to know when something is worth fighting for. These people, whom I consider to be family more than friends, were the epitome of love. Apart, they were and are like cute, but dejected, lost puppies. Together, they were nothing short of amazing. Trying to put back their Humpty pieces was worth the effort. Or so I thought.

Maybe I tried so hard because I felt partially responsible for their “rekindling.” Or maybe it was because I know in my own scarred heart what it is like to lose someone who somehow turns two incomplete people into one complete package. A relationship that just happened. Naturally. Easy like Sunday morning. When that happens, despite the flaws of two people, when you see them come together to form something that seems to be kissed by the Gods, well, it’s devastating to watch it break apart. I’ve been in those shoes. They don’t feel good on the feet. They are suffocating. They restrict your actions. And frankly, they look like shit.

So my greatest strength/weakness kicked into action, and I tried to make things right again. And I huffed. And I puffed. But I couldn’t blow the reinforced concrete, earthquake-proof walls down. And ironically, in this particular case, it’s not that I’m unappreciated or I’m being taken advantage of. It’s that I am impotent. Not to be confused with omnipotent.

As I surrender, please know that it does not mean I’m taking any one’s side in this matter. I’m not going to give up on either of them as people. I hope that they are both in my life for good. And I’m simply recognizing that in this particular case, my greatest strength is now my greatest weakness. And rather than let the feeling of despair set in, I’m going to be mature and say, I’m done.

Some advice to both of you in the days and months to come:

  • Don’t make this about anyone else but the two of you. It’s not fair to anyone if you do so.
  • Be accountable for your actions. It takes two, as they say. Own your part. Not to repair the relationship. But because it’s the grown up thing to do.
  • Realize that it doesn’t matter what any other people on this earth think, other than the two of you. The interwebz may feel like high school sometimes, but there’s a difference. We aren’t being graded, and nobody is forcing us to attend in order to graduate.
  • Don’t stop moving forward. Four years ago next month, in a two-week period, I literally lost everything…my girlfriend, my job, my house, and my car. I’ve been pulling myself out of that hole for the last four years, but I didn’t get there by feeling like a victim or blaming others for my situation.
  • Turn off the Tivo. You don’t have to replay every moment of what went wrong in your brain. What has happened can’t be undone, and it does you no good to watch the mistakes over and over.
  • Do things that make you happy.
  • Know that I’ll always be here for you. No matter what.
  • Don’t play the victim card. I’ve had many chances to play this card in my life. I don’t do it. Period.

****
Steve Clem is a divorced dad, a recovering Republican, and a Prisoner in the Tundra. He is in The Guinness Book of World Records for being part of the largest Hokey Pokey of all time. He was the founding editor of the Iowa City weekly The ICON.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: