Great Expectations?

This is my response to this week’s Flashback Track Friday prompt, where we were given I’ll Be There For You by Bon Jovi and asked:

What saying do you swear by?

This one came within a trice,
It’s fool me once and fool me twice.

To be clear:

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me

I don’t particularly swear by this. I don’t particularly swear by any statement. I try to think things through, and if something makes sense, all well and good. This is one that I happen to go along with.

I’ll generally give people one chance. If they fall short somehow, I can go so far (as a consultant I was able to collaborate with anyone, regardless of what I thought of them personally) but I’ll not put them in a position where they can let me down again.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t go around actively holding grudges. I think that would be counter-productive, I don’t think anybody would benefit and anyway, life is too short. It’s more a feeling of learning from past mistakes. If anything, I become ambivalent.

This principle can sometimes hit close to home.

Some of you will know that my daughter once accused me of abusing her. To the authorities. It’s already public knowledge, but for obvious reasons I prefer to write about other things. I didn’t abuse her, by the way, but I was happy to get her out of the house and she ended up in care.. Actually, I think I was a pretty good dad, or might have been – I was certainly more attentive than many.

I’m now left in a quandry – do I even *want* to know somebody who made those allegations against me? My inkling is “probably not”. But I walk a tightrope. I keep her at arm’s length but at the same time I don’t want to push her away for good, until I’m absolutely sure. We have little enough contact now so it makes little difference either way.

I sometimes receive advice from people: “you should patch things up with her”. That’s my eye-rolling moment. I’ll parry the comment somehow, but inside I’m thinking “You try having your own child accuse you of abuse, and see whether you ever want anything further to do with them”.

So there’s an extreme example of giving someone one chance. Once bitten, twice shy.

There are grey areas, though. For example, I had an appointment at the Eye Hospital, but it was at an awkward time. I didn’t think I could make it and was about to let it go. Mrs Bump chirps, “Don’t worry, I can take you that day”. I accepted, but shortly afterwards she booked a singing lesson instead, for the same time. Maybe she just forgot? Well, maybe, but the point is, she let me down. Whatever her reason, I never got to the hospital.

That’s quite poor, I think. Just one human being to another. If you say you’ll do something, you should be prepared to follow through. But it’s my wife. What do I do? Bottom line, do I want to be married to her or not? So some things, I need to let slide just for the greater good.

People who know me tend to remark on my independence, often not in a good way. I really don’t like asking for help. I am that way because I’ve been let down in the past. Ideally, I’m not even going to give anybody the opportunity to do so again. I hope I’m cordial with people, friendly even, but I don’t want to be in a position where I need to rely on them.

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