“Sarah Payne, the day she told us to go to the page without judgment, reminded us that we never know, and never would know, what it would be like to understand another person fully. It seems a simple thought, but as I get older I see more and more that she had to tell us that.”
–I am Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
I am haunted by a quote that is either real or imagined from Broadchurch: “You can never really know a person.”
I heard this quote–or somehow absorbed the implication from the miniseries that left me curled up in the fetal position sobbing–at the same time a trusted friend and mentor of a couple of my kids was charged and convicted of abusing one of the most sacred of trusts–teacher/healer and student in one of the worst ways possible (not that there is by any means a not-worst way. I physically and emotionally felt the collective conflict in somehow trying to to make sense of it and also being physically sickened and horrified. On the same day I learned two of my closest friends had deceived me about something huge and deeply personal that I could or would never have imagined and right before my eyes. It was the level of deception that wounded me most. Lying to me has always been one of the deepest ways to hurt me.
The natural result of such painful betrayals is to not to want to trust anyone. To turn inward and wall ourselves up in a desperate attempt at self preservation. Because we cannot know. We do not know who will betray us. Who will wound us or those we love.
The flipside, however–if one would simply turn it around–is to brave looking outward. To attempt to understand. Withholding judgment. Wanting to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. See the world through their eyes. Discover their weaknesses and celebrate their strengths. Share in their sorrows and in their joys.
Do we ever really know? No. I don’t believe we do. But there is an adventure in the trying.
[Day 179 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]