It wasn’t because I was on my second glass of liquid courage.
It wasn’t because my kids were milling about and I was trying to lead by example.
It wasn’t because I’d been reading The Inner Pulse, by Marc Siegel.
It was because I wrote of this very thing in Seeing My Path.
I inherently believe that I can’t change others.
I do believe change can begin with me.
I believe in the ripple effect produced by small changes.
I also strongly believe in doing what I say I’m going to do.
My feelings had been hurt. What was I going to do about that? Was I going to do anything?
Midway through my second drink, as the conversation swirled around me, I gazed at the frozen city lights and contemplated my options.
I had a couple choices.
I could repeat history, sit there and sip my cocktail, inwardly fume and feel sorry for myself. In a bit, I’d paint a fake smile on my face and say, “Thanks for everything,” and go home in a funk.
I could confront her.
I took another sip and contemplated the potential outcomes of being honest.
She could say, “Quit being so sensitive, that’s not what I meant.”
She might say, “Lighten up, honey, you take everything so seriously.”
She could get defensive.
She could brush me off and deny that my feelings could be hurt over something so trivial.
Then it occurred to me that if I’d gotten those responses in the past, maybe that was because of a lousy delivery on my part. Maybe I’d been sarcastic or harsh or critical or whiny, or any one of a number of adjectives that could be applied to someone who willingly, historically, readily assumes the role of victim.
The laughing and conversation seemed to get louder as I tried to figure out the best approach.
Maybe I should just ignore the whole thing.
It could very well be a trivial matter.
But, dammit, I don’t want to go home and be angry for not standing up for myself.
I took a gulp, and tried to arrange my face into a warmer expression. I summoned what grace I could. I wanted to avoid sarcasm. I wanted to avoid being passive aggressive.
I looked her in the eye and, without tears, I said, “You know, that hurt my feelings. I always try my best. I wish you could focus on what went well, instead of where I came up short.”
I held my breath while I waited for her response.
The laughing and conversation continued outside of us.
As she looked at me, her eyes softened and she said, “I didn’t know I hurt your feelings.”
And I thought, here goes….
Now for the part about how I’m too sensitive, or too intense, or too me – whatever that is.
But this time she said, “I’m so sorry. That wasn’t my intent. I thought I was helping by pointing out how that could have been handled differently. You know how I can be. You are more important than that.”
And then the tears flowed.
The kind of tears that come from an honest conversation where both parties are listened to.
The kind of tears that come from growth.
And then laughter entered.
Resentment, anger, frustration and hurt never did make an appearance.