find out what it means to me…
To me, it means simply acknowledging the feelings, opinions, and autonomy of another. Today I witnessed another example of how much a tiny bit of consideration and respect can make a diffference.
I was in a room with a group of people. They started discussing their frustrations with someone they forgot I also knew, even though I actually don’t know said person, I only know someone who knows them. They weren’t being mean or talking trash, just expressing frustration about an issue. I contributed nothing to the conversation, at all, because I had nothing to add and I just turned around and did my own thing. I wasn’t ticked or offended but I just had nothing to contribute. After almost everyone left the room, one person turned around to face me and suddenly went white in the face. She approached me and said, “You know, I forgot you know -person- and I’m REALLY sorry if what we said about -person- made you uncomfortable. That was rude of us, and I’m sorry.”
I hadn’t been offended at all, because what they were saying wasn’t untrue or rudely intended even if I didn’t personally have that same experience with said person. I assured her that I wasn’t offended, and even though what was said wasn’t mean, I assured her I wouldn’t repeat anything I heard to anyone. She said she wouldn’t be angry even if I did, and again apologized simply for forgetting that I had a connection to said person.
Again – I wasn’t offended, at all. BUT, I appreciated the gesture, a lot. I appreciated that she actually realized that I could have been uncomfortable and that she cared enough to acknowledge it and try to clear the air.
That, my friends, is respect.
I’m starting to realize, at least consciously, that for a lot of people, basic respect for others is a standard practice but after the things I have been exposed to and victimized by in the last five years, kindness REALLY touches me. Respect really matters to me. I have so much gratitude and appreciation for others simply treating people how they would want to be treated.
I wish I could just blink my eyes and get over the past. I am doing SO much better now than I was and I love how much my life and the quality of my life has improved, but the past is still a dark shadow that I have to remind myself to turn away from. One of the worst things about caring about people is that even when they completely betray your trust or turn out to be not good or kind people, you don’t automatically stop caring about them and then you excuse their behavior and you “take it” and the more you allow them to treat you horribly, the worse they treat you.
I’m not angry at my ex-roommate, but I’m still sad. I’m sad that our friendship was a lie, and I’m not saying I’m not partially responsible for some of that because I know I am. I said and did things that I shouldn’t have, and there are definitely reasons but reasons are not the same as excuses and I can’t and shouldn’t make excuses. Some of the things I did were wrong and that’s that.
But, the difference between her and I is that I never intentionally hurt her. The things I found out after our friendship blew up… there’s no point in hashing out the details, but basically I spent months frustrated because I was trying SO hard not to hurt her feelings and walking on eggshells around her while she was bragging to other people about how when I was upset and needed to talk she only pretended to listen because “my problems were so stupid” and how she wanted money for editing a book I wrote but “she didn’t even bother reading it.” (this was after she blew up at me for daring to have feelings of my own while she and her family were going through a hard time because clearly everything needs to be about her, all the time. Sigh.) I was sad to learn what kind of a person she really was, but I was more sad for myself, that I allowed her to treat me that way for as long as she did because if we’re being honest, I knew about her incredible selfishness for a very long time. She had done things to me that I DID know about long before our fall-out, incredible, shockingly devious and cruel-minded things that I just let her get away with because I didn’t know what else to do. I just lead from her example and made excuses for her and her behavior. I also did things I shouldn’t have done, I made mistakes, but I NEVER did anything to intentionally hurt her. She did so many things to intentionally hurt me and my sadness is directed at myself, for allowing that to be in my life.
So, when someone turns around and genuinely apologizes because they realize they might have possibly overlooked my feelings and spoken rashly, even if I didn’t feel that way at all, I just want to hug them forever. Again, I’m not USED to this. I’m not used to being respected and valued. Now that I’m surrounded by this caliber of people, you had better believe I will never glance again at anyone who ever feels they have to put someone else down in order to feel better about themselves. I will never again allow anyone like that to be a part of my life.
All it takes is kindness and respect. Literally all.