The Mentor, Who Was and Wasn’t

Oct 3, 2022 | Virtues of the Heart

Hurt, anger and judgment to Appreciation, Forgiveness and Compassion

In my late teens and early twenties, I worked in Northern Ontario every summer at a Christmas tree farm. We pruned the trees in the summer and cut, dragged and loaded them on trucks for delivery to Toronto and other places in late fall. During the summer I stayed on after the pruning season to work on various other activities on the farm like, logging, gardening, building and learning to drive all the farm vehicles. 

Les became my mentor of sorts, teaching me many interesting activities around the farm. I was, in my element, as they say. I just soaked up every experience and looked up to him and wanted to be like him in some ways. He treated me like a son and he clearly enjoyed my company.

For several years I stayed and worked on the farm over the summers. I also wanted to be with my friends and would plan some time off before school started.

Les had many vehicles and I had my eye on a 1952 half ton Ford pickup truck. I really wanted it. It was quite old, but he was a mechanic and kept all his vehicles working beautifully. I asked him if I could buy it and he said sure.

He gave me a price that I was happy with. I would have to work most of the summer to pay for it. I agreed and worked that summer, knowing that the truck would be mine as soon as I paid it off in work.

That summer, we were busy doing construction on one of the buildings, adding a basement, it was demanding work. The time came when I had worked long enough that the truck was paid for. I told Les that I wanted to take some time off before school started and enjoy my truck.

From that very moment on, he was no longer the mentor I worked with for many years. His whole demeanor changed. He reluctantly agreed and gave me the keys to the truck and without any of the warmth or attention he gave me previously, he turned and went back to work.

I was young and naïve, it did not quite hit me at the time, but the following days, weeks and years it would sink in. His whole demeanor changed toward me, his warmth, fun, and joy of seeing me was gone. He shut me out. He was cold, detached and dismissive of me when ever we were together. For a while, I was like the puppy dog that kept coming back, but the love was gone.

Eventually it sunk in, it was hard and painful for me. I could not understand how an adult who I thought so much of, could be capable of such a hurtful act, it didn’t make sense to me. I was profoundly hurt.

Fast forward many years later, unfortunately the truck was long gone, due to an encounter with a very large rock, but that is another story. By this time I was in my career and moving fast. But the hurt was still a little raw at times.

Long story short, I managed to do a deep dive into this in a therapy session and go back and review this whole situation.

Yes, Les hurt me, he kind of shook up my trust in people of authority, which lingered.

I am the result of what I experienced before. My emotional attachment to those experiences can cause problems if not acknowledged and examined, such as with this situation.

We crossed paths a few times over the years and he never treated me the same again. He eventually passed away.

For many years I held on to anger, judgment and hurt over what happened with Les. I did not forgive him and I carried the anger and judgment of him as a defense to not feel the hurt of rejection.

But eventually, I came to realize that carrying hurt, anger and judgment was detrimental to me and keeping me in the past. It was diminishing my energy and ability to expand, trust and grow in my life.

I needed to revisit my experience with Les.

I was able to look at my hurt and loss and view it all through the eyes of Forgiveness and Understanding. I can look back with Appreciation and Compassion for Les and my young self who was only doing what I thought was right for me at the time. My young self had no experience in this at all.

I was finished and needed to fly on my own, but unfortunately, I carried the weight of anger and hurt with me.

I did nothing wrong. Les did not know how to handle my leaving the nest, he wanted me to stay longer. I did not Understand that as a young man. He punished me. I was hurt and the my only defense at that age, was to judge him and withdraw from him and stay angry.

I released myself of any guilt I had and was able to Appreciate all the time we had together and what it contributed to my life.

Now I can look back and can feel Compassion, Forgiveness, Understanding, Humility and Appreciation for finding the means to be at peace with my old mentor.

Processing this through the virtues, I could really be free to fly on my own without guilt, anger or judgment.

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