You’re so kind.
My friend’s honeyed words flowed from her lips like a caramel ribbon and wrapped themselves around my ego. “Yeah,” I thought, “Maybe I AM kind. Go me!”
Her words touched me for a couple of reasons. A) This friend means a lot to me and b) If I want to be remembered as anything, it’s that I was a kind person.
Meanwhile, as I was getting fitted for my halo and wings, something funny happened on the way to Heaven.
I was mean.
Not in a blatant, hateful way, but more of a sneaky, completely self-unaware, didn’t-even-think-of-it-as-mean way until my friend (a different one) called me out on it.
Gulp. Maybe the unintended mean is the worst kind to be? A punch that’s delivered with a wicked smile and a “bless your little heart” to soften the hurtful words. I texted a “witty” observation to my friend, and she sent me back something like this, “Compassion sweetie. Think how tough every single day is for him. Count all your blessings :-)”
Yes. I saved her message. Yes. I felt shame. When shame envelops a person, you’re whisked back to a familiar, unrelated, event from your childhood. Reading her words made my stomach drop, arms tingle, and heart palpitate. I relived the time I pulled the chair out from under a schoolmate’s bottom only to have her fall to the floor and bang her head on the nearby desk. I felt horrible.
My (truly) kind texting bud sensed my remorse and worked to make me feel better but, she didn’t. Nothing could. Her gentle reminder sent me into a much-needed state of reevaluation. I wanted to retort and make excuses, but the more I examined, the more I realized that I’m not always a nice person. I’ll give you the shirt off my back, watch your kids, bail you out of jail (haven’t had to do that yet!) and let you cry on my shoulder. But, as I dug deeper, I realized that I often poke fun at people who can’t defend themselves. Who does that? And where is Atticus Finch when you need him?
If anything, last week’s indiscretion served as a much-needed wake-up call. I’m a believer in Karma, and that cranky little beeyatch followed me around all week. Just a few hours after putting forth my little joke, I found myself stranded at the Kansas City airport with a dead battery. Karma delayed quick roadside assistance, woke my worried husband, and then had the nerve to not tuck me in bed until after 2:00 that morning. After three restless hours, she rang my alarm and drug me through the day from one disaster to the next.
You reap what you sow.
You know me as ‘kind,’ ‘nice,’ ‘compassionate’ and ‘considerate.’ I certainly want to be that person, but I’m further from that girl than I want to be and a broad step away from what you have seen within these walls. Writing this is not a pity party or ploy for reassurance. The whole purpose of this blog is to be open, honest, and authentic. How can I be that if I only show the lovely sides of my face? I’ve Dorian Grayed my way into your hearts and it’s only fair that you know about the dark parts, too.
I’m not perfect, and my misstep is a manifestation of imperfection. It’s also important to practice self-compassion and doing so never comes easy. The internal beat-down session lasted for days, and I ran from pesky Karma all week.
On most days, I’m blessed with the gift of empathy and self-awareness. My kind heart will conquer the mean demons that surface from time to time. I’m grateful to the compassionate woman/friend/confidante who had the courage to call me out and thankful for the friend who thinks I’m kind even when I’m not. I want to be the person you believe I am. I’ll work on it.
Comments are closed only because I have the bestest friends ever! You’ll want to reassure and tell me nice things, and I love you for wanting to. But, this #1000Speak movement is not about me – in fact, I’m late to the party and showed up in boots and cut-offs instead of a party dress. Delivering kindness is about you, where you live, and who you touch. Instead of sending your lovely vibes to me, take the time to read what these talented folks have written on the subject of compassion. Better yet – join the movement yourself.
Dani at BloomingSpiders: Compassion is a Muscle
Lizzi at Considerings: We ALL need the Village
Lisa at The Meaning of Me: 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion
Hasty at Hasty Words: Ponytail Prisoner
Karen at Mended Musings: Bring What I am Able
And, for the ‘Muricans reading – Happy 4th of July!