I wanted to share a conversation I had the other day.
It started with them saying (in shortened paraphrase), “I was going through our old emails the other day, from way back. That was hard to read. I guess I was an asshole.”
When I was younger, or less weary of the world, or whatever, this is where I would have jumped in to assuage, reassure, fluff up the ego. ‘Oh you weren’t an asshole’ or ‘we were both assholes’ etc. You know the drill. But this time, I just waited. I wanted to know if this would be the time they’d actually say the words.
After a pause, they reiterated that they were uncomfortable when confronted with their past self, and said that it made them feel bad.
And I just waited.
And after a bit they said, “I’m probably still an asshole.”
I thought, Um, yeah,I know you want me to jump in and reassure you. I picked that up the first time around. It’s not going to happen. We’ve talked about what you did, and how it makes you feel. And then you gave me another prompt to comfort you and help you with your feelings. So now…
And that is all they said.
Why was this conversation all about how they feel? If you start out, “I see that I was such an asshole to you”, isn’t the follow up naturally “I’m sorry I treated you that way; I’m sorry I hurt you”? Not “I feel bad when confronted with the truth of what I did”* and then, when no ego stroking is forthcoming, “Wellp, gotta run”.
Ah well. It’s not like I was surprised.
I wasn’t surprised at all.
This is part of why I’m weary of the world.
*(which is exactly what they meant btw, not “I feel bad when I realize how I hurt you”)