You’ve fortified your boundaries. You carry the cheat sheet in your bag. Your backbone is stronger than it’s been in years. You have a teetering stack of journals that proves the value of writing out your thoughts. Most days you’ve moved so far beyond those old hurts that you can’t even remember the specifics.
And then it happens again.
He says something that cuts to your very core. That one button is pushed – the one that only he can push. The button you thought you’d melted and discarded months ago. How does he find it?
You get off the phone and you shake your head. Maybe you shake your head hard enough to erase the thoughts from your brain.
How do you erase feelings? Can you shake them away, too?
You run down the list of your tried and true self-care procedures.
You loudly say, to no one in particular:
“I’ve heard words like these before and I’ve survived.”
“How did that get by my boundary?”
“When are you going to remember to screen calls?”
“Can you believe he had the nerve to say that?”
You think about the possibility of ranting to a confidante. She’s heard this from you before. It gets more embarrassing each time you tell the same story with different particulars.
If you make the choice to confide, you don’t want to hear any of the following:
“That’s not what he meant.”
“The delivery sucked. I’m sure that wasn’t the intent.”
“Don’t be so sensitive.”
“He’ll never change. Why do you let it bother you so much?”
You already know that he’ll never change.
You are craving a response that acknowledges the injustice of it all. You’d give anything to hear, “OMG, I can’t believe he said that. You don’t deserve those words. Those words have absolutely nothing to do with you! He never deserved to have you grace his life.”
After the third deep breath, you think about self-acceptance.
You think about how this is your issue to deal with.
You wonder what you could do – right now – to feel better in this moment, without having to bring someone else into the mess.
You open a new document and start writing.
You write about the injustice of the unkind words. You write about how there is nothing you did – ever – to deserve those words or that treatment. You write about how your path is bringing you to your own destination – not his. Your destination needs to meet with your approval – not his.
You write about your inherent goodness that will not be shaken.
Your fingers slam on the keyboard.
The kids may even ask, “Are you okay?”
You will look up and smile and say, “Yes! I am better than okay!”
Your closing paragraph will contain adjectives that describe the person you continue to become. Kind, considerate, thoughtful, caring, real, unselfish. Include some words to challenge you – courageous, forgiving and patient.
Close the letter with:
Write with large letters in shades of purple with a flowery font. Sign with Xs and Os even if you never sign a letter with Xs and Os.
Insert some uncharacteristically ornate paper into the printer.
Find a stamp and a flurly sticker or two.
Address the envelope to yourself.
Make mailing this letter an event. Stop at a drive through and buy yourself a grande latte with two pumps of vanilla and a packet of raw sugar – because you never do that and you deserve a treat – dammit!
Turn up the radio and find a station that’s playing something that fits your mood. If you’re lucky, you’ll land on a station that has just started Corinne Bailey Rae’s Put Your Records On. Turn it up. Drive up to a mail box. Roll down the window, even if the businessman with his brief case can hear every note of the song coming from the radio. With a flourish, drop your letter in the box.
As the letter settles onto the stack of mail, roll up the window, check in the rear view mirror, hit the signal and drive away from those hurts as fast as the law will allow.
On the day the letter arrives, you won’t have completely forgotten the hurtful words, but they will no longer be on your radar. You will have filed those words along with the others in the box in the garage. You’ll make a mental note to get a larger box. The shelf in the garage sags with the weight of the box. You’ll consider moving the box to the floor – or better yet, the dumpster.
You’ll shuffle through the mail and notice your handwriting. You’ll smile and think, “Well, isn’t that a pleasant surprise.”
You’ll tuck the letter under the books by your bedside.
You’ll pull the letter out and open it the next time you feel the need for genuine understanding and kindness.