Saturday, March 24, 2007

I Never Want To Hurt Anyone Ever Again

I had a rough telephone conversation yesterday:

Some years ago, when I was in Los Angeles, circa 1999, I was working with a talent manager to help me broker the assignment as screenwriter for the Bewitched movie. Years before, we had become good friends, as she had represented an actor that I needed to contact for one of my books.

At any rate, the Bewitched deal fell through, and this talent manager failed to help me - and I ultimately became upset with her, and hung up on the phone, quite abruptly.

Immediately, I knew that slamming the phone in her ear was not a good thing to do.

So, I called her back. She didn't pick up the phone, I left an apology on her message machine or voicemail, and followed that voice-apology with a letter of apology via fax.

Now, eight years later, I contacted her by telephone on another matter. I reminded her that I wasn't too pleased with how I treated her in 1999, apologized again, and made the attempt to talk this other topic.

But I failed; this woman still felt the pain of how much I hurt her back in 1999, and today, her defenses were up. She accepted my apology, but then also rejected my new proposal for this new particular idea that I have, ever so politely and somewhat-coldly replying with, "But, thank you for thinking of me. "

I had heard that kind of response before, recently, in fact, when I invited yet another close friend to become part of yet another project I have in my files.

In very different but yet very similar ways, I hurt both of these individuals, and they were (are) unable to let me back into their lives.

After some thought, I understood how they have come to this conclusion. "Shame me once," as the saying goes, "shame on you. But shame me twice, shame on ME."

They were (are) only protecting themselves - and I respect that.

I now see clearly how burning bridges through inconsiderate and selfish behavior is indeed destructive on so many levels.

With specific regards to my conversation with that talent manager yesterday:

What would make me think that I could just call her up, after hurting her so many years before (whether on a professional or personal level), and - merely out of the blue - just have her accept my apology and right away allow us to move on - or to pick up with our friendship? Maybe if I had called her at some point in the previous eight years and just simply inquired how she was - when there would be absolutely nothing in it for me? Yes. Maybe that would have worked.

But instead I just call her up - and BOOM - ask for a favor.

Oh, brother...who the heck do I think I am?

Yet, I guess that's what I would do and have done with others who have hurt me in the past. I always leave people some wiggle room if they would like to come back into my life. But just because I behave in a certain way, I shouldn't expect that others would behave the same way in the same situation.

None of us should expect that.

In fact, none of us should expect anything.

Confusias said, "Loose expectation; gain everything."

In any case, maybe now I should employ this experience as a lesson in how to protect myself from being hurt by others (again), just as my two friends have protected themselves from me (again)? Maybe I should start to make sure that I should not get hurt by the same person who has hurt me before, however apologetic that person may be in seeking my forgiveness?

For the moment, my heart is heavy - and I'm disappointed with and in myself on so many levels. I am indeed ashamed...ashamed that I have damaged two relationships and more ashamed that I have hurt individuals who had one time thought a great deal of me.

I want to cry. I want to heal.

One thing is sor sure, I never want to hurt anyone again. I truly feel how much it hurts to hurt someone. I have never been so aware of how that transfers as I am now.

This is what it must be like for those who have a Near-Death Experience, and have what is known as a life-review, during which they not only relive the joys and pains of our own lives - but the joys and pains that we cause in the lives of others.

Undoubtably, my telephone conversation with the talent manager on Friday has made me want to be a better man...a kinder, more loving and yes, more gentle man.

I guess that means that what happened to me during that painful telephone call was was a good thing.