For a woman who has her shit together, I’ve been doing a lot of explaining lately. I’m not talking about justification–where you know you’re probably not doing the right thing but you want to convince the world and yourself otherwise. I mean explaining as in, I know you don’t agree with my actions, but here’s why I can live with that.
When I say it that way, it sounds lovely. Empowering even. Why isn’t it?
Because it’s none of your business.
I know that sounds really harsh, and I don’t mean for it to, it’s just that I feel…oh wait, that’s another explanation.
I’m not talking about my husband, or my son, or my closest dearest friends. I’m referring to those who feel it’s their job to judge how the rest of us live. They are quick with the “If I were you’s” and the “Well I would never’s” and “You should really’s.”
I spent a considerable amount of time in a conversation this weekend that went around and around in circles. You know when someone gets a bee in their bonnet? That argument or statement that they just can’t let go of? It happens because someone doesn’t feel heard, so they say it again and again. I knew that’s what was happening, but I kept explaining rather than saying “I understand that would like me to feel x, but I don’t.” Instead, I tried to convince them, and they tried to convince me, and neither of us was willing to budge.
The reality was that neither of us needed to. What I did or didn’t feel about the situation had absolutely no impact on them whatsoever and visa versa.
A friend led me to a wonderful epiphany a couple of years ago. I was complaining about someone else’s actions, and she said “Is this your problem to solve?” The answer was no. Most of the time, the answer is no. My problem is my jealousy, or insecurity or my fear of judgement.
I’m doing the best that I can. I assume that you are as well. I’m sure from time to time, however, I look at your choices and think, “Wow, that’s really effed up.”
And it’s none of my business. Please don’t spend twenty minutes explaining why you’ve done what you’ve done, unless I’ve asked you for advice about my own situation. If I’m thinking “that’s really effed up,” I probably haven’t.
We come to our decisions and choices from a base of experience that is wholly our own. We can walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, but we can’t possibly experience it the same way unless we’ve walked the previous 1000 as well. Like most people, I strive for acceptance, and part of that is living within acceptable societal norms. The thing is, while I’m stressing over being judged, my family (myself included) is about as far outside the norm as the Cleavers. In fact, as families go, I’d say we’re a good, solid B+.
Instead, take the 20 minutes and tell me what’s been going on with you. Any cool projects you’re working on? Read a good book recently? If you want to assuage your guilt, buy me coffee instead. In your case, better make it a grande.
Words by J. B. Everett
Photograph : “Coffee Cup” by cuorhome © 2005 Creative Commons