“I told you so.”I don’t say these words to adults when they get themselves in tough situations because I don’t want to be smug or an annoying know-it-all. However, I do think it sometimes. Can’t you just see when something’s coming? In someone else’s life, of course.
The biggie on my foresight list is the breakup of a marriage. A friend of mine watched her friends get married, one after another over a period of about 10 years, which produced her insatiable desire for wedded bliss, until she achieved and ultimately paid for it. Her comfortable life melted to misery. It took years to pay off debt and to restore her spirit and assets back to some semblance of what it was.
Why did I know this?
It was too fast. She was too happy. He was too dependent. He didn’t like his job. She was a prize – no kids, self-employed, attractive, and a homeowner; all attributes he lacked (well, maaaybe he was attractive). She told me things while they dated. I smelled trouble.
Our conversations were few because I was busy with babies; otherwise, would I have warned her? Would she have listened to my advice?
Another friend was already married when I met her, to a man she described as domineering; a man who treated her like a child, yet, who expected her to take care of everything. Again, a house was a factor in their split. It was her father’s house. She and her siblings inherited it. She had to get a mortgage on it to pay the siblings. She got the loan in her and her husband’s name. A baby was born. Daycare expenses were added. Job layoffs happened to both of them; home repairs, etc. - financial problems galore. But she had to keep that house; after all, her contractor father built it. Her husband had to keep it, too, because what man willingly gives up his house.
“Why don’t you sell the house?” I’d ask them (separately). I knew they were headed for a separation and divorce, and they did separate. He left, then came back. Then she left. She came back, but only because she was dying.
I still think about that house, occasionally; that normal, ordinary house that they both just had to have. Yes, I know – it was their home. Was it worth it?A third friend experienced misfortune due to a bad investment by her husband who wanted his wife to have all the things her friends had. I’d put this one in the “Keeping up with the Joneses” column. I watched the spending frenzy and often wondered when the crash and burn would occur. It took a while, but it happened. Two more shattered lives that have to be rebuilt; in addition to the effect it has on the kids.
Health – another facet of our lives that can send us spiraling downhill. People who don’t have checkups and procedures, like blood pressure monitoring, mammograms and prostate exams are risking their wellbeing. I wonder if an annual pelvic exam could have saved my friend; or was it just in the cards? I wonder if other friends would be plagued with ongoing illnesses if they were not bending over backwards for their families, 24-7. One is an overachiever – speeding around every day. I watched and wondered. She got a respiratory infection and lingering symptoms that lasted a couple months or more. I wasn’t surprised.
And what about me? Is Nancy right when she says I need to stop running? We laugh about my knees getting replaced in the future. Is she having a bit of foresight and advising me for my own good.
“People in their 80s still run, Nancy. And besides, I don’t have any pain.”
“Okaaay,” she says.
A piece of advice I did take was from my mom who told me to slow down, to make my kids do more. She said that I don’t have to take them to every birthday party and to drive them around all day; that they don’t have to participate in everything. With tears in her eyes, she pleaded with me on a day when I was stressed out. "You forget," she said, “You’re my daughter.” And I got it. And I’ve slowed down.
Have I followed her advice because she’s my mother, and because some things mothers just know?
How often do we have hindsight and say, “If only I had listened and took so-in-so’s advice?”
Or is that just not the way it is? In other words, do we have to go through things in order to get through things? Sometimes, I think yes – even with consequences that are not so good. I find that people rarely really follow advice; including me. Maybe it’s meant for us to learn and grow from our experiences. Maybe hindsight and foresight are moot.
How are you at listening to “good” advice and following through?
Image found here.