Just came in from a walk with Miss Harlow and while on it I thought about something that happened to me recently.
But first; when I was a kid I went through a brief phase of stealing things from my best friend’s house. I was eight years old or younger. I knew it was wrong. I don’t know why I did it. I guess I just liked their little trinkets (one tiny easter bunny figurine was especially enchanting to me. That I do remember). They caught me in the act I’m guessing because Dad came to my room, made me show him my stash, and walked me down to their house to apologize and return my loot. I never stole anything again.
I bawled the whole way there, apologized for being the worst person on the planet, and likely blubbered and hiccuped the whole way back. I was a terrible person and I would never live through this.
I did live through it, but word got around that I had been a sticky fingers, and shortly after I was playing with another neighborhood friend. I had brought a toy with me to her house to play with. It was a small plastic white and tan dog figurine. Maybe I brought other things because it seems weird to just bring that but, as I was about to leave, the mom said “That’s not yours” pointing at the toy I’d brought from home and was now holding in my hand.
“Yes, it’s mine. I brought it from home” I told her.
“No, that’s my daughter’s. Don’t you try and take that. You leave that here!”
The adult didn’t believe me. I left my toy behind. It was my first experience with not being believed when I told my truth and as you can see, it stuck with me.
Years ago a movie called The Net came out with Sandra Bullock. It was a story about a computer programmer losing her identity after discovering a conspiracy of some kind. She spends much of the movie being accused of things she didn’t do, and being unable to get anyone to believe that she is who she says she is.
I cannot watch it because it is my hell on earth. (It’s up there with using super glue as eye drops, which thankfully I have never accidentally done. Yes, I know it’s a weird fear). Not being heard or believed? Real awful. Maybe you hate it too.
I recently let someone down over a misunderstanding. I responded to their upset by apologizing profusely without really considering whether or not I’d done something wrong. They were pissed so I must have wronged them. When I tried make it right by sharing my perspective, telling them my truth, they didn’t believe me. When I tried to explain in hopes of easing their mind, they shut me down and refused to hear me.
The thought of hurting someone I care about makes me sick to my stomach. Along with the helpless feeling I got from being denied the opportunity to explain how I am not, in fact, a liar, the situation reminded me of something I learned from an ex. He used to say to his daughter, “You can be mad but you can’t be mean.”
This phrase means a lot to me and I try to live by it. Even if I’m hurt or mad, I can generally control any impulse to try and hurt the person who hurt me. I listen for clarification and understanding. To give them some grace and learn where they are coming from, knowing there is a distinct possibility that I misunderstood.
So consider this; if you get mad at someone, tell them how they’ve made you mad, but don’t hit below the belt. (That’s one my Mom taught me. When you love/care about someone you learn what can really hurt them, and then you do not go there. Ever). I hope the person who hurt you takes responsibility for the impact their actions and words had on you, but I also hope you might consider remembering that perhaps there may be more to the situation.
It might even bring you some peace to hear about it.