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Maya Angelou, “When People Show You Who They Are Believe Them”

by Sean Martu
maya angelou relationships

I never thought Maya Angelou and Oprah Winfrey would change my life.

For a good portion of my life I’ve been plagued with friends and relationships that would one way or another drive me nuts, but no matter what I experienced I would forgive or tolerate them. My biggest problem was with energy vampires. I’m empath and compassionate so I’ve always attracted them in my life, I always thought that they would eventually change or that I could change them. For years it was always the same narrative, when they’re in need I’m always there, but when I ‘m in need I either hear excuses or crickets chirping. I was always the dirt at the bottom of the shoe.

I had no idea why my life was like this, every one of my relationships whether it be friend or lover always turned out to be the same. I thought maybe it’s empathetic programming I picked up from my mother, she was in the Big Sister program, she “distance” adopted children in poor countries, she was always there for other people and the less fortunate.

But there was a turning point in my life when I had these two experiences.

One time there was this “friend”, she ran out of gas on an obscure highway just outside of the city, of course I’m the one she’s going to call. Like “AAA” I dropped everything bought a couple of gallons of gas and drove about 40 minutes to reach her. To tell you the truth I don’t even think she said thank you, much less give me the few bucks for the gas I brought.

Then there was this other time, another “friend” called me to come fix her computer, I used to be a computer/network engineer, of course like superman I dropped everything and put on my cape of irrelevancy to come to her rescue. After I got her computer up and running she almost ran me over so she could start googling and youtubing. No, she didn’t pay me, not that I asked her to, and again there wasn’t even so much as a thank you.

Then one day I don’t know if my spirit guides put this into my head, or if it is was divine inspiration, but I decided to try something new. I called both of them and told them the same fib, I told them that I was stranded on the same highway I had previously rescued my “friend” from and that I had run out of gas. Actually, I was  home in from my computer watching Sunday night NFL highlights.

So this is where it gets interesting.

So the first girl who I had rescued from the same situation gave me every excuse in the book. The second one who’s the computer I had fixed a few times did the same thing. But what happened next really knocked me off of my rocker. Neither of them called me later on that the night to see how I had managed or if I arrived home safely. As I am writing this article it’s been eight years since that night and I’ve still not heard from them. What’s even nuttier is I had known both of them for at least eight years up until the night, I used to talk to both of them multiple times a week on the phone.

But that experience didn’t fully awaken me, I may not have continued to keep friends that vampirically extreme anymore, but I was still allowing myself to be host to these parasites.

But one rainy night I was stuck indoors and was just randomly looking for anything of interest to read, that’s when I came across this HuffPost article “Oprah’s Life Lesson From Maya Angelou: ‘When People Show You Who They Are, Believe Them’ .

The article articulates how Oprah was bemoaning the negative aspects of her personal relationships to the late Maya Angelou. Dr. Angelou’s response became one of Oprah’s favorite life lessons to date. The lesson? “When people show you who they are, believe them.”

After reading this simple yet poetic statement a light bulb was turned on in my head, I anxiously continued to read.

“When a person says to you, ‘I’m selfish,’ or ‘I’m mean’ or ‘I am unkind,’ believe them,” Oprah says in the clip. “They know themselves much better than you do.”

I had to stop reading, I leaned back in my chair and contemplated on what I just read, I took a few deep breathes and allowed this Gnostic wisdom to saturate my neurons. After a few moments, I continued to read.

Oprah was telling Dr. Angelou about how she was being let down by the man she was dating. Oprah says Dr. Angelou didn’t understand her frustration. Says Oprah, “[Dr. Angelou] was saying to me, ‘Why are you blaming the other person? He showed you who he was.’”

That moment changed Oprah’s outlook. She recalls, “When you look back on bad relationships… For myself, [it was] sitting in a window waiting for him to show up, not even getting on the phone because I was afraid that if it was busy for one second that he would call and I would miss the call, not taking out the garbage on the weekends because I might be out the moment that he called, not running the bath water because he might call while I’m running the bath water… When you look at that process of waiting on somebody who has told you they were… going to be there for you and they were not, they are showing you in that moment exactly who they are.”

I felt like I was reading the narrative of my own life, I can’t tell you how many times this had happened to me. But this last statement is what emancipated me and changed my life forever.

Oprah remembers that Dr. Angelou also asked her, “My dear, why must you be shown 29 times before you can see who they really are? Why can’t you get it the first time?”

I’m not going to lie I shed a few tears of joys, I felt the shackles of my own ineptitude fall to the ground. These priceless words changed my life forever. They are so powerful and wise they should be written in Thoths Book of Life. I am no longer a human being of little faith, I now believe in totality when people show me who they are. It’s not going to take 29  or 100 times or even 8 years, just once.

I released everyone and everything that fit that old program of self-victimization, soon after doing so new loving and caring friends and relationships started to fill my life.

Oprah Thank you for that article!!!

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Wendy Abdulmesih January 31, 2022 - 11:25 am

OMG my fiend!!! this post just made me so HAPPYYYYY, and I also feel freedom.
Thank you for sharing and I will definitely read this again and many times.

Sean Martu
Sean Martu January 31, 2022 - 3:37 pm



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