I said something shitty last week. Shitty and glib and callous.
I said it quickly and without thought and firmly, underscored by righteous separateness and the principle of the thing. It flew out of my mouth with deft haste, sharp and serious and unmistakable. And no sooner was it said than I wished I could take it back, this putrid expression of my anger and rejection an ugly layer on a situation that called for none of it.
Something that had nothing to do with me suddenly twisted and perverted by my own bullshit. I hated that I said it. I was embarrassed. And, I said it in front of my youngest son – the one who misses nothing, the one who shines the light on all the things, the one who is the mirror for my sharpest edges.
And of course, he shone the light. As he does.
I hated the light. I got angry. I ranted about respect and discretion, about the impact of our words, about the principle of the thing. I wanted to be excused from the shittiness of it, absolved from its ugliness, and free from the guilt and embarrassment. So, like all good mothers, I tried to make it about him and all the ways that he was wrong for shining the light on it. Fuck.
It’s often easier to see out than in. When we are watching objectively from the sidelines with no emotional skin in the game. Watching conflict unfold, the hurts and the principles, the vehemence and defensive lines. It’s all protection.
Things hurt or enrage because they land in sore spots – spaces in the soul scape left vulnerable in the wake of hurts past, the aftershocks and the tremors. The deepest hurt, the ruthless instinct, the primal response, the edge of something dark. Our own landscape of fear, shame, insecurity and pain. The reactions, the disruption, in direct proportion to the size of the wound.
So often we construct our stories, and tend our wounds, in the space of all the hurts and the pains that have come before. We use them to protect ourselves, to keep us safe from a repeat attack, from another offensive. We make meaning to bolster our fortress, strengthen our wall and raise our platform.
And it’s there, from up high in our pulpit, ranting and preaching about our righteousness and all the wrongness, where we can often get a better view if we stop to look. Sometimes it takes an insightful, sarcastic and relentless 13 year old mirror.
I did go back to my son – a few days later. Because for all my ability to wrap this up in a few short paragraphs, it is never that quick in real life. I unpacked it with him, my responsibility, the root of the thing and where it grew from. My job as a parent. None of which had anything to do with the situation or him. It was entirely about me. He was absolved.
And it’s there where the space inside me shifted – no longer a war for validation or righteousness but contentment. I was absolved.
The original wound, a little less sore. A little more healed.
For both of us.