I’m not perfect…and I know I’m not!
How do I know? Because recently a friend emailed me to pretty much let me know that I’m not perfect. I’m going to just give her the name of Zelda – just because I don’t know any Zelda’s.
Well she and I had been emailing back and forth quite a bit that morning about a number of different topics. Oh yea the topics really took over the gamut of subjects. We laughed (ok, they were LOL type laughs), and we discussed some things we were both doing and that we were both involved with.
Suddenly out of the blue I received the last email of the day which read in part:
Oh, “hate” and “stupid” are such negative words! Maybe your New Year’s Resolution should be not using negative words. I’d like you a lot better. And swear words should never be used. I heard enough of those at the high school and I hear enough of them by “(a certain type of people)”
No she is definitely not an “I don’t give a fuck type of friend” but she has been a good friend over the past few years. So yea…
I was taken totally by surprise!
I mean really, what the hell? Honestly I had no clue where this came from. Yes, I had used “stupid” and “hate” in my prior email but those words had absolutely nothing to do with any person but more about a specific computer program. And I went back and looked at all the prior emails from that morning and honestly I had not sworn once!
Now I admit…had it been a couple other friends I’m sure there would have been some swear words!
But not with her. I am aware it bothers her and really there was nothing of any type that would have caused me to swear.
So what the hell was I going to do about this?
How does one respond?
Honestly I wasn’t sure. I spent the next three days composing my response to Zelda but nothing was coming out exactly like I wanted it to.
So of course I also asked my best friend Google what to do. (Ok, so I emailed another friend, Geraldine, the whole situation because really I needed to talk to someone…and have someone tell me I’m not a horrible person…which of course Geraldine came through for me!!)
Back to Google though. To be perfectly honest Google did and did not let me down. Crap, how many ways can you ask Google what to do when a friend tells you how terrible you are? But admittedly I did find a couple of pretty darn good articles.
The one that really hit home with me though was from AllWomensTalk about “7 Ways to Improve Your Friendships so That They Last a Lifetime” but most especially page 4 of that article.
You see there were two things on that particular page that I have always tried to live by. They are:
Friends can’t be perfect and there will still be traits that you don’t
exactly admire in them, but it is not your job to fix it.
Nobody wants a friend who constantly points out
your flaws and judges you.
Hells bells – I know I’m not perfect but then again is anyone? No one that I know is and I’m not so sure I would like anyone that was perfect. And by the way…what the hell does it mean to be perfect?
Anyway I finally just sat down last night and emailed her the following:
It has taken me several days to determine how I wanted to respond to this.
First, Zelda, please know that this is your problem. You have known me about 4 years, during which we have spent some time together. You have known who I am. And yet now suddenly you choose to let me know of a personality trait that you believe to be a flaw of mine that bothers you. That is your problem Zelda, not mine. We all, yes every single one of us, has flaws. Some we can put up with in others and some we cannot. That is our choice whether we want to put up with someone else’s flaws. Therefore it is not my problem how you feel about me. It is not up to us to tell someone they should change their ways. Unless of course, we are free of our own flaws. Which no one is by the way. We all have them. And what one person may consider a flaw another may not.
Just something to think about Zelda before you suggest to someone else that they should change so that you can like them.
Was that appropriate? Was it good? or bad? Hell…I don’t know but I do know that it felt right.
And her response?
I was wondering why you were so cold to me the other day.
I didn’t realize I hurt you so much.
Again…what the hell? How could she not realize that words hurt?
Yes, I did email back explaining that words do hurt but that I accept her apologies. But the thing is that I know (though I doubt Zelda will realize this) that our friendship has changed. There will be things that I do differently around her, there are things I mostly likely won’t tell her that I would have before, there are things that I will most likely not do with her anymore unless there are a number of other people involved.
Damnit I already knew I had flaws just as I’m sure many of you reading this know what yours are. But to have a friend point them out to you and tell you that if you change I’ll like you better!! What the hell is that? And honestly I still don’t have a friggin’ clue what prompted her to say all that.
My main point here, besides the fact that I am not perfect and that I do indeed have a few flaws (ok, maybe more than just a few) is that words hurt. And honestly, I think they hurt much, much more when they are written.
Because with the written word you are generally not facing the person telling you whatever they are telling you. Therefore you cannot hear their voice; you cannot see their facial expression or their body language. You also do not have the opportunity to sit there with a glass of wine, cup of coffee or a lemon filled cupcake to discuss the situation.
So please…pretty please…be careful with your words…especially those in writing. Read them out loud. Several times in fact. Think about how the person receiving that email or text or whatever is going to feel when they read it.
Remember – words do hurt!
Yea, what a way to start the New Year!
But hey, enough about me…what about you? Have you ever, ever had a friend do anything like that to you? How the heck do you respond? What do you say when you next see them? I’d love to know your stories.
And on a private note…thanks again Geraldine for being there for me. You’re the best!!