I make people feel bad. I’m mean to people I love. Sometimes I do it because I want them to take better care of themselves. Or because I want them to be present. Or because I want them to do the right thing. (Usually, if they aren’t acting out of integrity, they already feel guilty about it, and then I make them feel worse.) I don’t do it on purpose. I don’t want to hurt them. I get caught up in it, my pushing, my icky tone. I go on automatic pilot. I’ve done it since I was an adolescent, maybe even longer. I think over time, especially in this last year or two, I have begun to do it less often. But I don’t even know if that matters. One small moment is terrible for both of us. I remember being in the car with my best friend when I was sixteen. My hands were on the wheel, and I was screaming at her. Then I started crying. Even then I understood making her feel bad made me feel worse about myself, added heft and weight to my mountains of self-loathing. But I couldn’t stop. Just before my cats died I stopped yelling at them, found a way to be neutral, even tender. Now I have small moments when I manage to modulate the ugly tone in my voice, to not react badly to my mother on the phone. Not always, but sometimes I can stop myself. I want to believe one day I won’t hurt the people I love. And maybe saying all this is part of that, saying this and not hating myself while I do.
Thanks so much for your honesty. I think many (most?) of us find ourselves saying things to the people we love sometimes with tones of voice we wish weren’t so harsh. Our intentions are good, but that doesn’t change what happens in the interaction. I liked your acknowledgement that it seems to be happening less — I think this is my experience as well. Maybe as we move fully into middle age, we begin to take a longer view, and don’t take responsibility for others… in the ways that can bring out harsher tones (or word choices, too, which I think you were talking about.) A brave and human post — thanks.
Thank you, Bart. I am indeed hopeful about the future (as you will see in my “Part 2” on this). It also makes me think I need to write more about this because I am not just talking about having an ugly tone in my voice, too—there is so much more to it, and maybe I need to try to put more of it into words.
As far as moving “fully into middle age,” I was writing about this a little in my notebook this morning. I am pretty darn excited about it! And grateful, too, I have been able to complete my 57 posts while I was 57. (Two more come today. ;-)
rich-full deep mining, Riba. Same as you and Bart, sometimes shocked to hear words come out of me aimed at people I hold dear. Thanks for reminding us all, as you approach another sun year.
Thank you, Laurie! :)