View From the High Road

high road“What’s the point of always taking the high road if nothing ever changes?  It gets old.  Why don’t we try the low road for a change?”

“I hear your frustration, bud.  It sucks.  I know it does.  It does get old.”

“Well, he never takes the high road.”

“Maybe you’re confused about what it means to take the high road.”

Will reached for his coffee and said, “If it doesn’t improve the situation, I don’t see the point.”

“But that’s the thing about the high road.  It’s about you, it’s not about being able to change anything with him.  When you are dealing with most folks – you know, people who aren’t narcissistic – then taking the high road creates healthy relationships and realistic expectations.  But you have to remember that when you are dealing with a narcissist, he doesn’t see things the same way.  He doesn’t see a need to change.  He thinks that you need to change to see things from his point of view.”

“So then why don’t we take the low road and meet him where he is?”

“Do you really want to do that?”

Will paused.

I laughed and said, “I know you’re going to tell me what you think I want to hear.  But think about it for a minute.  Would your life be where it is today if we’d been traveling the low road all this time?  Would you still be feeling like your life is charmed?  Would you sleep better at night?  Would you have a clear conscience?”

“I know.  I know…

“Seriously, Will.  The high road isn’t about him.  Taking the high road is all about you and the character you are developing as you become a man.  That doesn’t happen if you fight his dirty fight.  I know it isn’t easy.  Many times you will feel frustrated by the things you leave unsaid, especially when you have your own strong voice and opinions.  I get that.  But you just have to trust me on this one.”

 

As Will gets up from the table, I feel the need to repeat myself and remind him that the high road is all about him and the kind of man he is becoming.

But then I remember that more is caught than taught, so I make plans to go see my own dad, even though every fiber in my being wants to take the low road and not go.

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11 comments

  1. Jesse,

    This is so beautifully said and beautifully lived!! I’m so happy all of you have each other and are this far along the high road.

    Warm hugs . . .

  2. Will is so lucky to have you for a mom. Jenny too.

  3. Lovely post. I wholeheartedly agree: forgiveness, and not giving in to retaliatory action is for my own benefit, so much more than for anyone else.

  4. Lynn,

    Thanks! I know I’ve seen you on that road, too. ;)

  5. Pat,

    I am the lucky one.

  6. M,

    Nice to see you here, again.

    Too bad it takes so long for some of us to see the value in that high road.

  7. Why change paths when the high road has you sailing? ;)
    We have had similar conversations lately. Sometimes it feels good to THINK we would hit him at the same level we take it. But then we know we are kidding ourselves. It would really hurt to think we stooped that low.

  8. Z,

    I so agree with you about the hurt if we stooped.

    I had a thought when reading your comment… Another argument for the high road: There’s a very slim (NO) chance we’d ever run into him while traveling that high road!

  9. Good one! Just passing like strangers on different paths…

  10. My dad is such a sweet, gentle, loveable man. He was unfortunately saddled with a simply HORRIBLE aunt. She was rich, crazy, and mean. However, she was the only aunt he had left (his late mom’s sister), and so he took care of her when he could. She lived in an enormous home in Chicago with an assistant, but sometimes needed help getting to the hospital when she was ill, and holidays and such. And my dear old dad would go there and endure her complaining, her true cruelty (blaming him, yelling at him, putting him down) for years. My mom would try to go and help, but the mean old woman was too much. Mom would end up sitting in the car just so she didn’t lash out at this horrible person.
    Finally, one evening, I was there and I heard about the latest meanness, and I looked at him. “Dad, why? Why do you put up with this? She has an assistant. She has millions of dollars. She could hire help.”
    He sighed and put his arm around me and said, “Well, honey, I need to be proud of myself. I need to be the man I want to be. And that means that I will love that mean old woman every day until she dies. I have to look myself in the mirror and be proud of myself, and if I abandon her, I just won’t be proud. And all that anger and meanness isn’t about me. It’s how sad and alone she is. So, for myself, for my own self-respect, I try to treat her well.”

    She died a few years later. Did not leave him a dime, and he STILL was glad he’d taken care of her.

    Because he always knew that he had taken the high road.

  11. Kate,

    Thanks for writing. Nice to see you here again.

    Your comment gave me chills and left me with an overwhelming urge to hug your dad. He must be something. This world could use more examples like your dad.

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