A close relative of mine married an incredibly unstable individual. There were red flags all along: constant arguments, disrespectful communication that may, at times, have bordered on verbal abuse. It was evident to pretty much everyone (besides my relative) that this girl might not have been the best pick.
Predictably, the relationship soured beyond the point of repair. A couple of years and a toddler later, the marriage ended in divorce and a heavily contentious custody battle.
When I spoke to my relative in the aftermath, he asked me something I wasn’t at all prepared to answer: “Did you think she was crazy before we got married?”
My heart sank. I felt horrible. Like a coward. Like I had betrayed him.
My having said something at the time likely would not have changed anything. Each of us ultimately does as we wish. He choose her for a myriad of reasons.
Still, his question made me feel as though I had willingly allowed him to stay in the dark.
There’s a fine line between unsolicited advice (ugh) and saying the hard, necessary thing. It isn’t our job or right to choose for others, or to believe we know what’s best for them. Sometimes the most loving thing is to let our loved ones make the mistakes they may, since they, themselves, know the lessons they need to learn.
It’s hard to see ourselves clearly. We’re so wrapped up in keeping ourselves afloat, in surviving, in worrying about what other people think, and in proving our subconsciouses right that true objectivity often evades us.
Since our selves and our lives are solely our responsibility, we each must continually do the work to un-cloud our vision, to abandon the desire to delude ourselves, and to choose better for ourselves going forward. Yet, as outsiders, we can be more easily disposed to clarity of perspective.
But no one wants to bare bad news. Most people do not enjoy sticking their nose in where it hasn’t been expressly invited. And so we keep quiet, and smile on.
In the end, it is a matter of timing (isn’t everything?). A person will not hear what they aren’t prepared to absorb.
Said prematurely, or without invitation, the hard truth can fall on deaf, (though no less offended!) ears.
But when the moment arrives, when the space has been created for us, as outsiders, to share our perspective, we owe it to each other to speak honestly. Never with the intention to judge, scold, or assign retroactive blame or shame, but with the simple aim of sharing what we’ve observed.