Wednesday, August 21, 2013

It's Not Easy Being Mean

Although I am known throughout the land as happy, level-headed, and sweet enough to cause cavities (or so I imagine), there are times...and situations...that bring out my very most unseemly side. Come on, how long has it been since you wanted to flat some tires or make a citizen's arrest because someone was on your LAST NERVE...?

Well, I had a night like that. The details don't matter but I was boiling over mad, dredging up ancient wrongs (real and imagined), head swirling with epithets, revenge fantasies, and the kind of language usually associated with sailors. Grrrrrr

And for many well-balanced people, access to those emotions is immediate, the volcano blows, well-chosen words are flung in haughty ire, and a dramatic exit leaves the object of one's anger appropriately chastised.

That's how I would imagine it, anyway. Having been brought up as I was, my voice is rarely raised and most of my very best fights occur only in my mind.

But I was boiling mad! Wronged! Undeservedly so, of course! This must be addressed!

First, I'm not usually sure I'm mad until it sits for a while, allowing the perpetrator to 1) think they had the last word and 2) escape. Eventually, I shift from "what?" to "WTF!!!", and off I sail to right the wrong.

Unfortunately, a sore heel and bad knees played havoc with my entrance. I was less sweeping into view as limping forcefully, red-faced and sputtering. And that's where the whole experience went off the rails.

Chemo messed with my vocabulary and words often elude me, leaving me to stare helplessly into the confused face of my co-conversationalist as I just sort of stop talking when I go blank. It's pretty unsettling. And VERY unhelpful when my intention is to GIVE SOMEONE A PIECE OF MY MIND, and that particular piece takes that moment to play hide and seek.

All I was left with were fragments of what might have been indisputable truths, delivered in frustration with increasing volume and gestures in a poor attempt to make up for what I was lacking in content and reason. I then became 5 years old, and not a nice 5 either, and said as many mean things (with no segue) as I could string together from my uncooperative mind. I think I might have actually stomped my foot and then...again, can't make that dramatic exit...had to make my slow and painful getaway. But I did eventually slam a door.

Well, that was useful, wasn't it?!! All that hot air released, I was immediately remorseful and sent a quick little apology via email. And at that moment I realized that I have never said mean things to anyone, as far as I can recall.  The scene wasn't unfamiliar because I frequently fight both sides in my head, but to actually say mean and hurtful things to someone was horrible. It didn't make me feel better at all. And, due to my attenuated speech patterns, it was not only mean and hurtful but probably nonsensical and confusing.

Yes, I'm still mad. The initial thing that set me off isn't any less hurtful to me. I will handle it as I usually do, shake it off and move on. But I learned something HUGE

It's not easy being mean. I once burst into tears when someone close to me called me an unflattering name, and he was shocked..."don't tell me nobody's ever called you a name before" and I truthfully said "No. Nobody ever has". Tonight I realized that, even though I have been provoked for 2 years into tonight's dramatics, it's the first time I went face to face matching hurt for hurt.

Until it was over. The other person will go off and live his life, and I'll let the ripples cover the pond and subside, and nothing that was said made any difference. But I knew him well enough to know there were places I just couldn't go, and I got very close to that never-never land. There's a social contract we have with people who populate our lives...some things are just off-limits. I got close enough to that edge to feel the frosty air. And no matter how it made him feel, it didn't make me feel better.

But Mean Girls (and boys) dwell at that edge and poke poke poke at the soft unprotected place where we keep our most loathsome fears. And I learned, that's not me. I want to win but I don't need bleeding bodies littering the battlefield.

If as you read this you think of a time I wronged you in any way, please forgive me. I am not naive enough to think I've left only harmony and peace in my wake. But I know now I'm not a Mean Girl. It's too hard.

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