I had this sort of revelation today. We’re often told in life to do our best to get along with others, to be civil, to turn the other cheek, to keep the peace for a loved one’s sake. This is a wonderful thing. Through our associations with others, we (hopefully) learn to temper our tongue, become more accepting of those who are different, and put the feelings and needs of others first.
But we don’t talk much about what to do when lines of civility are crossed. Or when, despite what you believe to be your best efforts, associating with someone else tests your restraint. What do you do when things turn to tolerating and you are biting your tongue so often it bleeds? How should you behave when your actions/words are irrationally misinterpreted, when your efforts are not reciprocated, when either one of you can barely disguise your disdain? Most importantly, what do you do when you are not the only two people involved?
This has plagued me for a long time, made me question my actions and words, and humbled me. And for a long time I’ve simply tried to put on rosy glasses and see things from the perspective of the person I really cared about. Then the house of cards fell for everyone.
Until today, I’d only see the negative side of all of this finally blowing up, of civility taking a flying leap out the window, of ugliness and dislike shedding the masks of politeness. Suddenly this morning I had the fleeting thought, “I’m free.” With pretenses gone, rosy glasses tossed in the bushes, and zero effort/desire to associate on either side, there’s no need for either one of us to pretend anymore. And, for the first time, I am relieved. It’s as if a huge burden has been lifted.
If only life were simple and everyone involved felt this same relief, life could be wrapped up in a pretty little package. As this is not the case, my sudden freedom feels bittersweet. But it’s a start.