I did it again. Despite how far removed I am from the situation, despite all the time and lack of care about this person and situation, I saw something that reminded me of a long-dead issue and my smart-ass, venomous-when-it-wants-to-be mouth got to talking. And now I’m sitting here shaking my head because I realized that I let the past get the better of me as though I don’t know better.
Man, let me tell you, trying to be the best version of yourself is not always easy.
I once had the idea of creating a blog dedicated to being a burial ground for me and others of all the horrible things they have ever wanted to say about or to someone else. I had a name for it and everything. See, I know that my slick mouth and smart ass comebacks, some that aren’t as quick as I wish they would be in the moment, have been my weak spot in the past. Any adult knows that sticks and stones may break bones but words can pulverize them, despite how the little saying goes. And my words have always been my go-to defense mechanism. When I think of things that I have said to people, especially those that Ihave thought wronged me, it’s amazing to me that some of them are still in my life today. I know words can be like daggers and I have used them as such when I have felt that I have needed to.
But. That was the past. Well, at least I would like to think so.
The particular situation has to do with a complicated friendship in my life. One of the biggest complications with this friend is that in the past when our friendship was a “situationship,” as they call them these days, his messy relationship with his daughter’s mother was a major issue. Or, to be specific, her definition of their relationship did not seem to align with what he defined it as to everyone else (and by everyone else I mean all the people he worked with, the friends of his I met, etc.). One of my many mistakes in that situation was entertaining the messiness by responding to her antics. If we could rewind time I would have walked away from the entire situation for good …I probably still would have clowned her for her little comments to be honest (just being real, she truly made it too easy and I know myself)- but I would have been the bigger person sooner than later. But the thing that bothered me the most about the situation, was that despite the fact that she did things like this, he never seemed to have it in him to check her or even apologize for her. In hindsight, I see that showed a lot about him. And while our acquaintance has gone back and forth over the years, there is a part of me that has never fully forgiven or regained the regard I had for him because of the fact that he seemed to condone the immature actions of this girl.
I have long since considered the different dynamics in that situation a cautionary tale and lesson about deal breakers. To this day I make sure any guy I meet that has kids tell me up front what kind of relationship he has with his child’s mother. While he and I are back to good terms these days, the truth is that you can never quite forget certain things even if you have forgiven them, but especially if you have haven’t. All you can do is try and take your lessons and do better.
Which brings me back to my subject.
When people talk about trying to be the best version of themselves and start trying to do better, you note that they start quoting and posting scriptures and quotes and all kinds of nice words. They begin talking about turning the other cheek and rising above the drama. And that is ultimately the right thing to do. That is ultimately what’s it’s about. But I’ll keep it real: talking shit is still my gut-instinct. It takes everything in me to delete text responses that come to me when I feel like someone has tried it. I still imagine conversations that I will likely never have with people where I can tell them everything I really think about them and whatever it is that they have done. I get so riled up sometimes that I feel like I’m actually having these conversations and have to stop myself from looking like a crazy person responding to no one in public. It can get really bad, ya’ll.
And it’s not about getting the last word in. It’s not even about trying to hurt people really. I think that the whole concept of being the better person and walking away from situations that do not honor you is really not this easy task that the words would have you think. People say it so often, but it’s not easy. That’s real. I found myself saying that to a student this week who was describing how he let words “bounce off him” and how he “remained humble.” As he talked, however, it was clear that what he thought he was letting bounce off of him was really being absorbed and internalized, to the point that he had basically reached his boiling point by the time of that conversation. The so-called maturity it takes to walk away and not say what you feel you have to say is not even really about maturity. To keep it real, it’s about spirituality. Because when you are riled up enough to be so angry that you imagine unleashing all your wrath on this person after the fact , there is passion, control, rage, and a swarm of feelings caught up in that. The only thing that can help you “be the bigger person” or “walk away” is a higher power. And so that who I find myself having to call on. Doing so reminds me of who it is that I really am and who it is that I am evolving towards.
As a result, I find that these days whenever I have the need to say something smart, I pause and reevaluate. I look at myself and say “This isn’t who you are,” or “saying this is makes you look like ___________. That’s not you. So don’t say that.” At the end of the day, what you say and what you do define who you are as a person. Your words and actions need to match up. So you can’t go around calling yourself doing good while saying hateful words to people. You always have a choice to how you respond to what people say to you.
So when I think about this little trigger recently, I had to make myself pause and reflect. The truth is that in life you sometimes just have to express how you feel, even if it is only to your journal, a friend, or even the air. And then you have to let it go. Saying mean things is not going to do a damn thing for how you feel in the long run, despite whatever temporary satisfaction you get from it at the time. While I may not have ever forgiven this friend for this perceived offense, I’m actually not sure if I ever even expressed what I even wrote to him. But even if I do, regardless of what his reaction, in the end I have to let that go, keep it moving, and not let myself start reflecting toxic behavior because of memories of a toxic situation. I’m better than that. I’m better than that situation. And besides, one of the best things I learned is how to walk away from situations that are toxic and people that are complacent in their toxicity. The minute that verbal venom starts spewing I’ve already lost the battle because I’ve let the negativity win. And while that’s human – I mean everyone has an off-day/moment/week – I still always want to do better. That’s the goal, right. It’s an on-going journey. (In the meantime I try to follow like the old folks used to say: “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Hey, it works.)