Being Wrong: Part 5
Note to estranged daughter

Being Wrong: Part Six

I woke up this morning and realized that I was not finished yet in talking about Being Wrong. There is another important question that we can ask ourselves as we examine our ability to be wrong and how our errors impact ourselves and others. Going back to the description of what occurred between Carol and Tim in Part Five of this series, what if we are Tim? What if we are wrong about someone? What if we are seeing someone through some very dark filter?

I don't know why Tim saw Carol the way that he saw her. I doubt that Tim could give me a good reason if I asked him. I suspect that Tim doesn't know the answer. In fact it wouldn't surprise me if Tim always sees Carol that way and never changes his mind. But I do know that sometimes the Tims of the world go through a transformation and lose that dark filter through which they had been seeing someone that they had spent years disliking, fearing, and even hating. Claiborne Paul Ellis did it. I've done it myself when I've gone from having a deep dislike of someone to becoming very good friends with them.


I can't give a good explanation for the dislike that I felt prior to becoming friends. I can say that spending more time with someone and really getting to know them can make all the difference. The reverse of that is that avoiding someone and not spending time with them and getting to know them well can help to perpetuate any misinformation that we have about them.

This process connects how things work when an estrangement occurs. We can have an estrangement that exists not because of the real nature of the person from whom we are estranged but because of some fantasy of them that we've built up in our own minds. A fantasy that is sometimes supported by the very groups and sometimes therapists that we go to to help us work through issues that trouble us most. A fantasy also supported by our distancing ourselves from them.

If a human is capable of being wrong about their ability to see or move, wrong about the length of a line that they can see, wrong about the worth of a person because of the color of their skin, wrong about whether they saw a movie or didn't see a movie, a human also is capable of being wrong about the character of another person. Even to the point of misjudging a person who is truly a good worthwhile person who would make a fine friend, an excellent mother, a loyal brother, a loving father. A person can be wrong about whether someone loves them or not.

A person can reject eject estrange someone from their lives who would have always had their back, who would have always loved them, who may even have adored them. Yes, a person can do that.

I don't know why a person can do that. I don't know how a person who is blind can think that they can see. Perhaps the mechanism for being that wrong is somewhat the same? I don't know. I only know that it happens and that people deny that it happens but that doesn't change the fact that it happens.

I have no doubt that in certain circumstances we are all Tim. I know that I have misjudged people in my time. I hope that as I get older I get wiser but I don't know. I am certainly still often wrong about a lot of things but lately they are all pretty minor things. Maybe as we get older we do get wiser and are less wrong about the more important things.

Sometimes we are a Tim. Sometimes we know a Tim. Sometimes we inadvertently assist Tim in telling him that what he sees through that dark dark filter is real. Sometimes we spend a lot of time looking through that dark filter ourselves and are startled and surprised one day when we are put in circumstances where we discover that the darkness that we thought we saw was only due to the filter and the sun was shining all along.

Sometimes we realize that we are blind and learn that what we thought we had been seeing really wasn't there.

For me it is important to realize that people often do things because they think they are doing the right thing for themselves and for others. I feel sympathy for them. Because I've been there, done that, and I changed my mind. I've gone through my own transformations. I can say that I used to think of some things a different way. I used to think about some people a different way. So, yes, like C. P. Ellis, I can say, "Me too."

It isn't less painful for me if I am misjudged and I don't feel less irritation over untruths said about me. The experience of being estranged from a person that I loved remains painful. But I do see that we all have the ability to be wrong about people, ideas, and things and that we all can be Tim. So, to the Tims of the world, if you are out there and you read this, I wish you the best and all that joy that life can bring. Because sometimes we are all you.

Ginny