Saturday, 11 January 2014
I watched a great movie yesterday, called "Nowhere Boy", about the teenage years of John Lennon. It was recommended to me as being reasonably accurate, based on Paul McCartney objecting to the original script, and actually being listened to. I had watched a previous movie on the same topic "In His Life" and it was interesting to compare the way the characters around him were portrayed.
Apparently what Paul had especially tried to get across was the complexity of the personality of John's Aunt Mimi. We all have strange relatives, and different family members see them from different angles, so there isn't always a consensus of opinion. Few of us have a relative portrayed in numerous movies, like this lady. Anyway, it fell to Paul to try to set the record straight, because she's often described as quite an unsympathetic person. He insisted this was not how it was.
From the little I can glean from stories and movies, this lady was a "survivor". A woman doing her best, sometimes making mistakes.
That's all any of us can ever do, our best. None of us have all the answers. We can't predict the future. Sometimes we make mistakes in our judgement of what to do, say, or refuse, when it comes to the people we care about. Our own background experiences and upbringing come into play. Our fears, our own needs, and our lack of understanding often affect our decisions.
Is that an excuse?
I have a mantra, and I make no apologies for repeating myself. Excuses and explanations are two different things.
It is a good idea to seek an explanation for bad behaviour. It helps you understand why. It may make you more understanding. It may allow you to forgive a person.
There is always an explanation. It may not be logical, it may point to foolishness rather than wisdom, and any number of human weaknesses. It may not be an explanation you like. But there is always one, somewhere.
An excuse is different. It says that the explanation more or less demands that the behaviour is forgiven, and that to not do so would be unreasonable. Excuses are quite rare really.
We are a funny bunch. I've never met a perfect person. I don't believe they exist. They almost can't exist by definition, because a person who never made any mistakes in judgement or behaviour would almost certainly be unsympathetic to those who do, thus negating their perfection.
And it's possible for a very flawed person to be very lovable. In my life I have known people who I could easily have written off as "wrong 'uns" who in fact I found to be people of depth, warmth, and humour, and who I was very fond of. If required to give character assessments, I'd be honest, but balance the negative with plenty of positive.
The question remains really as to where the limit lies. At which point does a person become so "bad" that you remove them from your life?
As many of you know, somebody I care about has been forced to do this with his mother. She's not a wholly bad person, because humans are far more complex than that. But she is a very foolish person, and a very manipulative person. Her son is a very forgiving person, and she took advantage of that.
It is a very big step for a man to remove his mother from his life. Especially when he has children. It is very sad that it has to be done. But there comes a point when her behaviour is hurting him and his family too often, and too much, and the only way to prevent that is to draw a close to the relationship.
I believe she is a deeply unhappy woman. She has made many mistakes in her life and they have compounded, leaving her in a bad situation with her own life. But these were her choices. I believe she is now "stuck", and her pride and fear is stopping her from changing her situation. That is no reason to treat others badly, to tell lies, to let people down, break promises, and repeat bad behaviours over and over, expecting to be forgiven again, and again, and again. It is the repetition that wears others down. The same bad behaviour, many times. She has been given so many chances. There has to be a limit.
Because at some point, and only you know when, if you allow a person to continue to treat you badly, repeatedly, then you are as much to blame as they are.