I come from a family that believes in being honest. Brutally honest. They feel that if you are not being told the unvarnished truth then you are simply being lied to. Never once is the concern that their opinion is not necessary nor wanted. How could you not want to know what they perceive is the truth? There is no way possible that you do not know how lousy your choices were? How disappointed they are in your shortcomings? I mean YOU live with it everyday but you somehow must be unaware.
Never once did I consider myself like my well-meaning relatives. I believed that I was always trying to be considerate of another’s feelings, right? Wrong. You see one does not really divorce themselves from their families of origin. Oh my words were definitely nicer than my familial counterparts but hurtful nonetheless. You see I prided myself in not being judgmental. Well at least not overtly. We ALL judge other people. Sometimes harshly other times gingerly but judge none the same.
Unfortunately, my friends never said anything when I told them about THEIR lives. They never uttered a word when I cast my infinitely wise judgment on their situations that they had courageously shared with me. Like my roots I felt that I had to be honest with them. I never once considered that they just needed to vent. Not everyone is looking for solutions from me for their problems.
It did not dawn on me that I could be hurtful. Hell, I lived with hurt so I understood it intimately. But everything is not about me and my hurt. Sometimes it is just about listening. It is simply allowing the other person to get it off their chest, being their sounding board. Allowing them the space to scream and then breathe. Sometimes they just want the audience to validate their emotion of I matter. It is not about giving unwanted, not necessarily advice or opinions.
Yes your best friend may be dating a loser. Believe me she knows that already. She is asking because she needs to hear it out loud in her head. Your agreement may not be necessary. She will tell you if it is. Your telling her that her boyfriend is a bum only makes her defend him. No one wants to hear that they are not with a great mate. You tell her it is her choice after you have denigrated him. Now she feels like she has lost some status in your eyes. In your conversations going forward there is an awkward silence. There is a shift in the relationship. What happens now?
How do you treat confidences given to you by a lover? I am not talking about spreading the story because that is TOTALLY unacceptable. Nor am I speaking about judging it but about once again giving your opinion on the situation. I would have done x y z. How do you know that? Have you been there? Have you considered all that was going on? Have you been blindsided like that before? More than likely the answer to those questions is no.
I had not be confronted with those situations until recently. I did not realize that I was not the all knowing, omnipotent sage. I never said anything out of malice or anger or bitterness but the effect was still the same. Never once did I consider the other persons feelings. I did not cherish the trust placed in me with the revelations of their inner most thoughts, feelings and fears.
Is an apology enough? I never meant to hurt anyone. My opinions are not sacrosanct. My wisdom is not infinite. My approval is not necessary. But if anyone walks away, I understand.