Expecting A Different Result

If it sounds like I’m complaining all the time, I apologize, but writing to you gives me the chance to talk about the things I care about, that hurt me, or I wish for, or I’ve learned, (or wish I hadn’t). None of us are exempt from life’s lessons, and talking about them somehow puts them into sharper focus and perspective. And basically, we’re all in the same boat, facing the same problems, in one form or another. Success, fame, age, or even wisdom and experience are not always a shield or a guarantee against making mistakes. I make plenty of them—–we all do—-and sometimes it helps to share those moments of truth or ephiphanies with others. And then you think, “duh” (as my children would say), how could I have been so stupid. When you say it out loud, it’s so obvious. But it’s not always obvious when you’re going through it, to any of us.

I am cursed (and I am beginning to think it’s a curse as well as a blessing) with basic optimism, and a profund faith and belief in people. We know that hasn’t always turned out right. I’m divorced, like everyone else I’ve been disappointed, most of you know that I was embezzled and discovered it in the last couple of years, so I’m no smarter than anyone else, and possibly less so. But part of my basic make up is that profund faith I have in people that they are basically decent, that they will behave better next time, that if you treat them fairly and honestly, they will do the same to you. I know it’s naive, but I hate the thought of being suspicious of everyone. Although, let’s be real, I would not re-hire the person who embezzled from me. I may be optimistic, but I’m not totally stupid!!!

Whenever people ask me for quote that I’m particularly fond of, I always think of the quote from Anne Frank, that defines how I feel about life and people: “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are truly good at heart.” I love that, and also the quote from Albert Einstein that says “The only life worth living is a life lived in service to others”. Both of those are my favorite quotes.

Having said that, there is also a very worthwhile saying in 12 Step Groups (like AA, NA, Coda, and all of those groups that are based on the 12 step model, which I have always been impressed by). It says that “Doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.” And I will admit to you that in my life, I have been guilty of that particular kind of insanity at times. And I have learned that people’s behaviour toward you in the past is the best predictor of how they will continue to behave and treat you in the future, and who they are. Most people dont’ change, even if we think they should or wish they would. But sadly, if they have treated you badly, they are liable to do it again, possibly worse next time, if you give them that opportunity. Sometimes I have a hard time remembering that, or believing it. Because admitting it means that they really meant to treat you badly, it wasn’t an accident, or an oversight, or a mistake, they actually meant to do whatever they did, no matter what the consequences to you. That’s when my optimism and faith in people can be a curse, because I have a hard time believing that some people are as rotten or nasty or ill intentioned as they seemed to be (not all people, just some people occasionally), and really meant to hurt me. You mean it wasn’t a mistake? No. They weren,t just confused? No. Some people just aren’t nice. Sad reality, but the truth. And I need to remind myself of that at times.

This moment of philosophy came up because a once very dear friend was very dishonest with me about ten years ago, and really upset me badly and hurt my feelings. It was a shocking blow at the time, and impacted our friendship forever. It has never been quite the same since, or even close. Before that, we were like family, since then, we have been cautious (on my part) and distant friends. And a few months ago, that same person began trying to be closer again, showed all the appealing traits that made me trust them and love them a long time ago. And I decided that I had been too harsh in my judgements, told myself not to be so unforgiving, and give them another chance. I did. And within three months, that same person was dishonest with me, manipulated me shamelessly and disappointed me again. I can’t blame the other person this time, but only myself, for being trusting and believing that things (and that person) had changed. I thought perhaps time had healed them, or taught them something. Apparently nothing. The same dishonest person that spoiled our friendship ten years ago has just done the same thing. Only this time I don’t really care, I didnt have as much invested in the friendship, and I am disappointed but not injured. But what a lesson and reminder it has been, that in fact people’s previous bad behaviour really is a an indicator of what you can expect from them in future. I get it. And I won’t be fooled again.

It really is too bad. It would be nice to think that people can do it better next time, want to be more honest, and demonstrate something better next time after they screw up. But some people are just never going to change, or even improve. And with all due respect to Anne Frank, I too believe that, in spite of everything, people are truly good at heart…..some people….not all people, and some people have adequately demonstrated that they dont deserve my love, friendship or trust. It’s a hard lesson, particularly for someone who is basically optimistic (and always thinks things will be better next time), and one who belives in the decency of the human race. But unless we want to get hurt again and again, sometimes we have to learn the lesson, and swallow the bitter pill that not all people are good people, and some have shown us just what kind of inferior treatment we can expect from them. Lesson learned. It makes us sadder and wiser, but once they’ve shown us who they are, if they’re not good people, we have no choice but to protect ourselves. I had a wake up call and reminder this time. And this time, I will quietly put that friendship in a drawer, with old souvenirs and past memories, and move on. I won’t be trusting that person again. Maybe you’ve had an experience like that too. Some people just disappoint us every time. We can’t teach them, or show them, or explain it or change them, we just have to acknowledge what we can expect from them, and move on. So……moving on…….and hopefully the next experience will be better!!! There is nothing more precious than a faithful friend whom you can rely on and trust, and nothing worse than a bad one who is not worthy of your friendship. Some people just aren’t. It’s a reality of life. Lesson learned.

Love, Danielle

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9 Comments so far
  1. Bonnie Willey December 10, 2010 5:03 am

    Oprah often quotes Maya Angelou,
    “When people show you who they are, believe them.”

  2. P.J. December 10, 2010 8:39 am

    So sorry you had to experience that.
    The proverbial “barrel” is still filled with lots of good apples, but a few do go rotten-let’s not let the rotten ones ruin the sweet taste of the others.
    I am sure your other friends are honored and grateful for your friendship.

  3. Lucimara December 10, 2010 4:11 pm

    As you yourself said, lesson learned. I love a quote from Paulo Coelho that says something like: what happens once can never happen, but if it happens twice will surely have a third and so on. kisses

  4. Ever Crover December 12, 2010 9:07 am

    Many years ago I read a book I believed written by you about a famous actress that is kidnapped by four guys with complete different backgrounds. I cannor remember the name of the book. Can you help?

  5. Dannya December 12, 2010 10:39 pm

    To My Sweet D.S,

    I bought ur 2 new books called big girl & impossible.I can see someone when am reading the big girl.Its too heart touching.
    But i liked impossible more than big girl.
    Impossile or possible? you really got sucess for the narration of human relationship with heart touching stories.Climax was excellent Impossible,i have a little pain before reading the last chapter…..Is she miss him……..But finally its great.
    Wishing you happy x;max & prosperous new year from Kerala(India) for my sweet lady writer.
    Write more……..i never ever read a book which express people feelings like you wrote.
    All the best to you & for your loving kids.

    With lotes of Love.Dannya

  6. Kimberly December 13, 2010 3:22 pm

    I just think it’s nice that you give us insight into the person who you are. We all love your novels so much and crave learning more about our favorite writer! I so hope that you will write an autobiography one day, sharing the true essence of your and your life. All your fans would certainly forgive anything that might be deemed a flaw!

    I imagine it can get lonely at the top, not knowing whose intentions are sincere. Well, it can get lonely at the bottom, too, though! 🙂 I’m reading Journey right now. I’m about a third of the way through it, and, boy, does it touch home for me. It is really getting me thinking about boundaries that we all definitely need to use for ourselves. It is sad that we truly do need to be careful about who we become bonded with…

    I hope your holidays are very Happy!

    With so much fondness for the way your every novel takes me wonderfully far away from the cares of this crazy world!

  7. Kimberly December 13, 2010 3:24 pm

    Oh, I love that quote about insanity, too; I’ve thought of it often, and, the quote from Maya Angelou, that one is new to me, but soooo good!

  8. Susie December 13, 2010 10:12 pm

    This post really hit home. It is very tough sometimes to have to say you know as much as I tried this person doesn’t care and isn’t nice. It is tough to have to accept and move on but it gets to a point were that is all we can do. I am sadder and wiser but maybe sometimes that is how we grow. I will never let the person who hurt me so badly do it again.

  9. Ingrid Magnusson January 6, 2011 7:10 pm

    Hey hey! I have to say, you are very magnanimous and forgiving to behave so graciously. I’m afraid I would have called them up and explained exactly why they are a scumbag. But then, that’s probably why you are so successful. I have to confess, I haven’t read your books as yet, but after reading this blog, I think they could be on my agenda. I too have a child with mental illness, due to some fairly severe violence during the pregnancy. It is a long road, with a lot of grief, and I am so sorry to read about your Nick. I have just completed a childrens’ book I wrote for my daughter, whose greatest wish has always to be normal. After years of struggle, I figured if she cannot be normal in this life, then I will make her a hero in another one. I love the way you write and am now a fan of your blog. Maybe I too, will be able to dance at Christmas.