Recently I wrote a blog where I admitted to holding a grudge for two people in my life. Yesterday, while listening to Golden In Death by JD Robb, one of the characters said:
“What’s a momentary annoyance for one is a deep abiding insult to another.”
I’m left wondering if the two people I begrudge don’t even realize they’ve insulted me. With one of these people, it all comes down to an insult or a perceived insult. KG believes I insulted her when I missed a get-together.
She responded to the insult with an insult of her own. I was insulted – felt attacked – with the way she challenged me on this decision. I never meant to make KG angry or make her think I didn’t value the relationship we were building. I made a snap decision with long term consequences.
It’s a long story but I was supposed to have lunch with KG and she was waiting for me. As I was finishing my class before our lunch, one of the students started to tell me about her abusive father. I was the first person she’d ever opened up to and I didn’t think I could walk away.
Strangely, I actually thought KG would see me as a “good” person for offering comfort. Instead, she was angry and reminded me I wasn’t a therapist. After that, I received a few really angry emails. I tried to explain but I’m sure I got defensive and pissy. I let her have the last word and we haven’t spoken since. I think we both actively avoid the other.
Am I making a big deal out of nothing? Was she simply annoyed at me, or at life, or because her coffee was cold? Was I the last annoyance in a morning of annoyances and therefore got the full force of her frustration? Or, like me, did she feel an “abiding insult”?
Have I spent over a year afraid to run into KG because I can’t let the insult go when there was no insult? Have I spent over a year feeling resentful and secretly hoping I become more successful as a little retribution (I hate admitting that)? Have I spent the time trying to understand what I did so wrong rather than just let it go?
Have I made this silly event all about me?
What makes this even more strange is that KG and I barely knew each other when this all went down. We’d taken a class together. We’d met three times to discuss writing and complain about our mothers. I didn’t know her children’s names. I didn’t know where she lived. So why does this still bother me? Why am I still afraid of her (and that’s exactly how I’d describe it – afraid)? Is it because I feel guilty? If so, why would I feel guilty?
I’m constantly wondering if she’s bad mouthing me. First of all, she probably isn’t. We’re too old for that and she has bigger things to think about than me. Second, what do I care if she is?
I think “abiding insults” are exactly that – ABIDING. I bet she has not given me a second’s thought and I give her too many seconds. Why? And how do I let it go? This relationship was never that important anyway.
What I should be thinking about is abiding insults I’ve inflicted on others. I imagine I have many apologies to make but I’m not sure how to figure out who and what and when. If it was only an annoyance to me, then I’ve let it go with no understanding that I may have hurt someone more deeply.
One of the reasons I actively avoid KG is that I hate conflict. Conflict scares the shit out of me. I have lost more relationships because I run from conflict – it’s easier to drop someone than confront or be confronted.
I can’t even be a good mom because I hate conflict so much. Rather than have a healthy discussion with Brian or Sydney, I let Dave handle it. His willingness and ability to confront and to listen and to compromise has built a closer relationship with the kids. I have let paralyzing fear build a wall between me and them. I have let annoyances turn into abiding insults.
I’ve been worried and obsessed over my disordered eating, my weight and my appearance. I wonder how much I stuff insults and conflict under brownies? I’ve been working with my new therapist on body image. That’s important. But, as I’ve written this blog, I’ve learned that I need to understand my fear and avoidance of conflict more than I need to worry about big hips.
What does it matter if I’m thin but have no deep relationships?
This blog has made me very sad. I don’t miss KG, but I shouldn’t be afraid of anyone. I don’t miss KG, but I DO miss other people I’ve avoided because of unresolved conflict.
I see my therapist next week. I just hope I have the courage to talk about this. My abhorrence of conflict is so deep, so entrenched, so terrifying that I imagine she’ll dig around and uncover some very painful truths about me. And then she’ll ask me to face conflict head on.
She’s going to ask me what I’m afraid of and I don’t think I’ll like the answer.
Click HERE to download the Journaling Activity that accompanies this blog.
In April 2012 I had a mental breakdown. The real thing. I have about 36 hours that I don’t remember....