Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hath no fury

One of my favorite things to do is to really point out to someone that they have been hurtful and are therefore wrong. My therapist describe it as coming out of his shoes. (He likes to do it, too, so we understand each other.) It feels so good to describe my expectations and then to carefully analyse for them just exactly how someone doesn't measure up.

The last time I really let myself go to do this was in college. A mutual friend hurt my best friend and I went over there and made her cry.

In my pursuit of grace and peace, as well as my desire to prioritize relationships and making people feel as loved as God makes me feel, this practice has laid mostly dormant. It comes up in fits and spurts if someone provokes me over email, which is why I have requested to all of my friends that they not say potentially hurtful things over email. I've worked really hard to get good at accepting criticism to my face so that people can actually feel like they can take me up on this request without getting burned. I stumble here and there but I have lots of success stories to tell, too, so I know I'm on the right path.

I have also cut back on this activity because it just doesn't work. Most people, myself included, respond more to body language and tone of voice than they do to carefully crafted sentences. Words just don't mean much in the heat of a disagreement between intimates. Finding closure after my divorce required embracing the futility of finding exactly the right words. My ex-husband was never going to admit that he made certain choices even though he knew they would hurt me. He was never going to give me a carefully crafted apology in response to my carefully crafted dressing-down.

So, I am a better person for refraining from making people cry. But sometimes I miss the white hot intensity of righteous indignation. It recalls for me the rapture of writing my first letter of civil disobedience during my sophomore year in high school when the stupid cheerleaders screwed up and none of us got to have initiation weeks for our clubs. I was an International Thespian, damnit and I deserved to be publicly humiliated! Now, I usually write the email or blog post but then not send it or publish it. I try to make phone calls before misunderstandings get out of hand.

Still, yesterday I made an exception. I posted over at my blog for interfaith families if you'd like to see the result. Like my episode in college, I don't like it when the silent minority gets brushed off because there is no spokesperson. So, I became that spokesperson.

It was fun and I appreciated that the object of my anger was willing to comment so that I could also engage him with a more conciliatory tone so that something might actually be accomplished besides simply making oppressed folks feel validated (which has lots of value on its own, though).

1 comment:

Katherine said...

I've been wanting to comment on this for days, but I can't quite figure out the words.

I guess I just find something so honest and familiar about what you said:

He was never going to give me a carefully crafted apology in response to my carefully crafted dressing-down.

There are days when the world is pissing me off something fierce, and my brain is crafting one righteously indignant soliloquy after another. It's probably for the best that it usually doesn't get verbalized.