John and I bought a house last month. This was a big step, a tremendous amount of work and a very exciting time for us and our relationship.
The home that we have rented for the last 4+ years was charming, with lots of character. One of the things I loved most about the house was that I could literally plug my vacuum into the hallway outlet and hoover my whole house without having to change outlets. This was ideal.
As we began the process of packing and moving, many of my things had been stored in the garage because they just wouldn’t fit in the house. As we moved, it became clear that many of these items were damaged from weather, dust, and (unfortunately) rats. While we were plagued with the attack of the killer rats during the Summer of 2015, we prevailed and have been rat free ever since we outwitted not only the exterminator, but the rats.
I am still contemplating what is salvageable as I wade through furniture, trinkets and fluff (as my cuzzie, Robin, most aptly named these items). Last weekend, I found myself picking through my silver platters, bread baskets, coffee/tea set and champagne bucket. All of them tucked into a drawer of an armoire for the last four years, looking neglected and heavily tarnished. This brought back many memories – mostly of my mother-in-law. While we had a strained relationship throughout the years, she would regularly volunteer and was always good for polishing my silver pieces. She would always beam with accomplishment when done and I would thank her profusely for her help.
As I began the task of silver polish and sponge, I slowly went over each piece, re-dipping the sponge into the purple paste and applying a little more elbow grease to the greenish gray tint of tarnish. Each piece slowly began to shine as I rinsed each polished item and dried it thoroughly.
I thought a lot about our relationship problems (me and my MIL) and that brought about an even bigger question to ponder. As we grow through life, sometimes we ourselves lose our shine. We either neglect ourselves or are neglected by others and we become weighed down by this same similar greenish gray tint of emotional tarnish. I spent over two hours contemplating this issue and by the time I was finished I vowed that I would look through my own eyes and my own heart with more shine and less tarnish. I would be more open minded, more kind hearted, less judgmental of things and/or people. I had this thought in my head and was ready to put pen to paper in the form of a blog. I was really feeling it.
Then last week, I had a bit of an emotional meltdown. Without going into detail which would only make the issue worse, I was hurt once again by a person who has been part of my family for over 35 years. I know it takes two to tango, but I also was a child when this relationship began and as I grew into adulthood and continued to spend time with this person, it always ended disastrously. This person had a habit of talking poorly of not just other people, but pretty much everyone – my family, her family, her friends – no one went unscathed. The complaints were endless, the expectations unreasonable, her perspective of life and relationships unrealistic. It wouldn’t be until months later that I realized she was now talking to everyone else about ME. She would spread rumors and share information completely out of context upsetting relationships left and right – including her own. As I watched this behavior continue, I watched those around her begin to do the same thing.
While it was fortunate I did not see her often, it was also unfortunate, because you would forget this behavior trend of hers just long enough to fall right back into it again. As it was recently put to me, “Jaye Lynn, you always gave her the benefit of the doubt.”
Giving up on relationships is tough. Learning to tell someone, “I can’t do this anymore” is not ever an easy thing to do. It feels like you are quitting and I was raised NOT to be a quitter. As I continued to churn this difficult relationship over in my head compared to my epiphany of last week – Shine On — I felt like a hypocrite. How can you be more kind-hearted, more open minded and less judgmental and still tell another human being, “I’m done”?
Then a few days later, I came across another piece of silver that needed tending to. I pulled out the purple paste silver cleaner and the white sponge and began cleaning. The sponge grew to be a dark gray, almost black color and yet, the silver remained tarnished. I rinsed the platter and began again. The same thing occurred – the silver still stained, black in certain places, and it occurred to me that perhaps this piece was just too far gone to save.
This piece, that I had owned for nearly 30 years, that I had cared for regularly up until 4 years ago, was now literally ruined. Yes, I take the blame for neglecting its care over the last four years, but it was also subjected to unknown elements – the heat/the cold/the rats. I spent the next five minutes washing off the remnants of the purple paste. Then I rinsed the sponge over and over until it was again white. I placed the sponge back into the silver cleaning container and tightly sealed the lid. I then took my tarnished, ruined silver platter and I carried it through my garage, out to my backyard and I gently placed it in the garbage can.
I look back now at this person – this person who I have tried to make peace with in my life for so very, very long and I have come to realize that it doesn’t matter how much I try to care for the person –how many birthdays I remember, how many cards I send, phone calls I make, emails I send. It doesn’t matter how much I nurture the relationship, forgive the transgressions throughout the years, this relationship will never shine and I, like the white sponge, can continue to polish this relationship until I am dark gray to black, or I can simply choose to rinse myself over and over, until I am clean again and calmly walk the relationship out to be disposed of.
So instead of choosing to Shine On, I have decided that I would do just as well to Shine Somewhere Else.