As I walked by myself,
And talked to myself,
Myself said unto me,
Look to thyself,
Take care of thyself,
For nobody cares for thee.
Am I a difficult person to understand? Am I generally clear in my words and conversations? Do I speak in riddles or have a sarcastic humor that can easily be taken the wrong way? ok maybe yes on that one...
At least the first two - I never thought so, until now. I also didn't really consider myself to be someone who is a delicate flower that wilts at the first sign of pressure. Nor do I consider myself to be overly concerned with the opinions of others so long as I know I am well.
Perhaps all that is true, but yesterday I found myself apparently on the wrong end of a conversation. Now, I am a part of several online boards, three to be exact. One for each child. So these boards are full of approx. 40 woman each that I have known for 6, 4 and 1 year. Now I don't expect to be loved and cherish by all the woman on all these boards and to be perfectly honest, I don't love and cherish all the woman myself - but yesterday there was a misunderstanding on one of them. Thankfully the woman came to me privately instead of creating unneeded drama on the public forum - but she was deeply insulted by a comment I had made that was taken entirely wrong. So wrong that the meaning I had intended was not even on the scope of how she had taken it and I was so shocked to get a hostile email about a comment that had nothing entirely to do with what I thought I had said...apparently I was wrong. I found myself on the verge of tears as I read a letter that ripped me up one side and down the other. Telling me I was being rude, sticking my nose where it does not belong and judging something that had nothing to do with me...and wrongly accusing me of being rude and judgmental to a number of other woman as well. Also not true - at least I have never intended to be...
What do I do with an email such as this? I can see where she miss-understood me. Perhaps I should have been more clear, perhaps I should have made no comment at all (how much chaos would we avoid by simply keeping our mouths shut?) But taken aback and hurt I found myself becoming defensive. I did my best to be polite, apologized, explained that was not my intent. Sadly I could not leave it there and sent another message saying THIS is how I had meant the comment. Explaining in detail my not so funny joke.
Why do we get defensive? Is being misunderstood so terrible a thing? Perhaps my confused friend is reading this now and finding my thoughts on the matter entertaining? Offensive? I don't seem to know anymore. Sadly my defensiveness was catching. She wrote back saying it was not just her, she had gotten 3 texts from 3 different people moments after I had made the comment. And apparently she had asked me to clarify and since I had gotten off the computer for the day considered my lack of reply to be me avoiding the issue, further rudeness.
This letter crushed me. For one, I now know that she texts with these other woman. A close relationship I have never had with them. So now I have discovered that I am not the good friend I had assumed myself to be. There is a circle of which I am on the outside. Furthermore, these 3 other woman went to her first talking about how rude I was instead of asking me what was up with that comment. AND apparently I really did say something that although I thought it was innocent enough, really was a terrible thing to say when taken another way.
Am I over thinking this?
I was home schooled, therefore I did not have to deal with getting a thick skin when it comes to the insulting things other "kids" can say. I have never before been bullied, at least not by someone who I thought I could confide in.
Now I will say to her credit she messaged me in private, she apologized for unnecessarily taking offense, thanked me for apologizing and I believe we have both moved on. Had she said to me what she thought I had said, I would have been upset too. So there was reason behind it all. And for now, I do believe for us both it is over and done with.
So why am I still dwelling on this? I wrote, after she said there were others that had mis-understood me that it concerned me that people had been talking on this without asking me. Perhaps it was my jealousy at finding out I am not a part of the cool crowd. I am not pleased to be the subject of gossip, but perhaps it is my fault that I often go 24 hours without being online so I really can't be one of the popular ones...and since they don't text me they have no way to clear it up. But when I voiced my concern I got a letter back telling me in no simple words that this was not worth my concern and worrying so much as I had about what other people think of me, is unhealthy.
Now, most of you reading this know me. I am honest, I am cocky, I am direct, I am a little rough around the edges. I don't mince words, I don't flatter unless I REALLY believe it, I love deeply, I don't like hugs (except from my husband and children) I strive for respect and I don't take trust and friendship lightly. I cannot tell you how many people have told me "when I first met you I thought you hated me." This bothers me, I have worked to fix it and I think I mostly have. But never, has anyone ever told me that I am weak, no one has ever told me I need more self-esteem (usually the opposite!) no one has ever told me that I think to much of what others think of me. But then who would really say these things? Honestly it would be pretty rude of THEM (aside from a beloved friend or spouse - both of which I have and they have not said these things). So how would I know?
So I had to ask myself, do I worry too much? Has other people's approval become more important to me then it used to be? Is my rough exterior just a mask hiding my inner coward huddled in the corner of me, just waiting for someone to come and crush it to smithereens?
Yes, I think to a certain degree that is true. I have become less sure of myself as life is harder then it used to be and sometimes I fail miserably. I am not around adults all that often and have lost some natural tact simply because I am out of practice. I am in dire need of friends and they are harder to come by. I am exhausted most of the time so it is hard to have a quick wit, and yes - I have the desire not to hurt those around me so I am more careful, and grieve when I have again failed miserably at this. Yes, I care. I care what those I love think about me and I forever strive to better myself. And you know what? I think this is a good thing.
Yesterday I had trouble focusing because my mind was trying to figure out what had gone wrong in all those conversations. Today I have hardly thought twice of it (aside from writing this all out of course). I have always done this, when something has me frustrated or grieved I will give myself a day. For one day I can be useless, I can obsess, I can cry. But once the sun goes down and up again and a new day has begun I am done. It is over and behind me. Today I can analyze, I can look at it without the emotion. And today I can laugh. I am still so very sorry it happened, I hope all is well on the part of my friend and she feels alright. I will not write anymore emails. All has been said that needs to be said. I will distance myself from the group a bit, just for a while to clear my head but I will return. Tomorrow I will be more careful, I have learned a lesson I will not soon forget. Perhaps I will do better at keeping my mouth shut from now on?
I answered myself,
And said to myself,
In the self-same repartee,
Look to thyself,
Or not to thyself,
The self-same thing will be.