By the middle of last week, I was not terribly pleasant to be around. I’m pretty sure if I was a cartoon you’d be able to see a cloud of angry clouds brewing around my head. I could feel the rumblings of this Terrible No Good, Awful Bad Mood when I snapped at my son as I was trying to hustle both kids out the door for school. He’d forgotten his water bottle, and of course, because Murphy’s an asshole who knew that we were already running behind, he also had no idea where it was. I may have stomped back up the stairs from my waiting spot at the door, mumbling about children leaving school stuff in the same spot, and not just tossing it everywhere, because my god, don’t they know I have to deal with finding it later?! I definitely slammed the cupboards closed hoping that it might alleviate the rising frustration I felt. It didn’t. There was a string of explicit words as my eye caught the time on the clock, and realized we had to be gone five minutes ago. When I finally found that water bottle, I filled it as angrily as I could possibly manage before thrusting it into the waiting hands of my son. Then, because my tantrum wasn’t fully complete, I ushered both the kids out of the house, still semi-ranting about the lost bottle that was now found.
I did apologize, moments later. Of course, because it’s just who he is, he smiled that bright smile and said that we all have bad days. We were okay now. Even if I felt sheepish. Saying sorry did make feel a little better, but it didn’t completely stave off the guilt for not being the better version of myself that morning.
The truth was, I was in a bit of an emotional haze, stumbling to gather my bearings. The afternoon prior, I’d received a message from someone telling me that someone that I trust and love was saying terrible things about me. Words like manipulative, and liar were used. Adding to the long list of not so lovely things this person was saying was a message that had been sent, one that had been written with the intention that I would never see it. I had burst into tears. The context of the insults didn’t even matter; this person had taken the words of my husband, twisted them, and laid the blame firmly on my shoulders,
Obviously, I was upset. Mostly though, I felt stupid. Incredibly stupid for trusting this person and thinking we were past this juvenile stage of our relationship.
In that moment of feeling stupid, I picked up the phone and called my husband. Indirectly, somehow, I blamed him for this person’s thoughtless behavior. The reason I’d simplified in my head made perfect sense. So I ran with it, ranting, and expressing, in between the pockets of anger, my hurt.
He hung up on me.
In that moment, I would have told you that I didn’t deserve it.
But I did. Because, it just wasn’t his fault.
When he came home later, we’d
argued discussed the situation. When we finally stopped baring our teeth at one another, we came to the same conclusion: There would be no apology. We could confront her with the expectation of no responsibility being taken, but would it solve the issue, or cause more problems? We knew from previous experiences that it might help, but that it would also add fuel to this person’s already burning bonfire.
Then, either because it was late, or because we were emotionally exhausted, we just left it at that. I thought the conversation had helped me move on, because I knew there wasn’t much else we could do. I would just have to accept, again, that there would be no apology. Just let this shit roll of your back, I repeated.
Roll, roll, roll.
Yet, I couldn’t. Because, as much as I wanted to just cooly pretend like her words meant nothing to me, they did. They hurt because they were harsh. Because I’m human. Because I care about this person, dearly. Because it fucking sucks when someone you loves says awful things about you, for no good reason.
After both the kids were in school, and I was tucked into my corner seat in the living room, a cup of black coffee in hand, I called my husband. This time I asked if he was busy. Through my tears, I told him how I wasn’t sure how to just let this go. I told him that it was unfair that I was expected to just let this roll off my back, because it was kind of A Big Deal. I told him it sucked that she said those things, and that I felt like it was a giant step backward in the relationship I’d been carefully constructing with her. He listened before he confessed,
“I’m upset too, Danielle. You did nothing wrong, and it makes me frustrated that my words were twisted because I chose to be nice. It makes me sad that she didn’t take responsibility, and instead just pawned it off on you. I’m mad at her, for you. I feel helpless, because what do you do when someone is clearly not going to listen? Do we just say them anyway? I just don’t know….I’m sorry she said those things about you. I really am.”
It didn’t make all the hurt magically disappear. The simple phrase, “I’m Sorry” opened up a space where I felt validated, heard, and understood. It made those cartoon storm clouds part, and allow for a ray of sun to come through. It made me realize that if I need to take some time to regain my focus, I can. It made it much easier for me to just let that shit roll off my back. Because, with some people (especially family), it’s your only option. It made it easier for me to say to my husband, “No, it’s okay. It’s not your fault she said those things. Maybe she was just having a bad day?”
Because, we all have those bad days.