Can people change?
I’m not sure. I think we can change how we see the world, how we react to it – we learn; we grow. But I’m not sure that our basic character ever wavers. If anything, it’s possible that any movement is only closer to whichever tendencies we already have. It’s said that as we age, we become caricatures of ourselves: crankier or sweeter, meaner or more naïve.
I have spent a lot of good money on books and therapists, too much time lost in thought and jotting notes in a journal, trying to escape the wounds and mistakes of my past in order to alter behaviors that seem to hold me back. Some days I feel that I have seen the light; on others, like I’m still fumbling in the dark.
Still, every once in a while a moment of painfully earned clarity spurs an “aha” moment, and I wonder how the hell I could have not seen what stands so complete before me now, unveiled. I have recently had such a breakthrough about someone close to me, a realization a long time coming and not completely unexpected. I am, as the song goes, a sadder but wiser girl. The insight I have gained, while valuable, is accompanied by a loss that hurts deeply and keeps me awake in the middle of these lengthening, chillier nights.
Has she changed, or did I? I am not blameless in this loss, and I hope I am not wrong. Words have been spoken, charges levied and denied, grenades lobbed. To avoid collateral damage, I reach out, but my hand meets air, and silence. I can never see this person the same way again, but no woman is an island, and to extricate myself risks further loss.
This is someone whose demons would best mine, but without the will to confront them she is powerless to alter her behavior, and maybe even to realize that it might be unacceptable. Can she change? Will I? Or are we the same two people, here at what may be the end, as different as we have been all along? It may be that the only things that have changed are our points of view.