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It happens: sometimes that filter in our head bursts and we say too much of what we’re thinking and someone gets hurt. Tell us about a time you or someone you know said something that they immediately regretted.

I try very hard to not be hurtful to anyone, I think simply because I know what it feels like to be hurt by another’s words and actions. As soon as I read the prompt, I traveled back in time, though not too far back in time, to my mother-in-law; she had the ultimate talent of hurting people’s feelings without thought, she was notorious for a lack of the filter that governs most people. I had to smooth over quite a few encounters because of her spontaneously lightening fast criticisms.

One of her off the cuff comments that haunts me to this day is what she said about my eyes. Growing up and being insecure about my looks, I used to comfort myself with the notion that even if the whole wasn’t beautiful, I had separate pieces that were nice such as nice lips, thick hair and very pretty eyes. It gave me some measure of confidence to like these features about myself.

One day my mother-in-law was driving myself and the babies down to Westfield. I forget exactly what we were taking about, but it must have had something to do with genetics because I said that the baby boy had my eyes. My mother-in-law took her eyes off the road to face me and say “he doesn’t have your eyes, your eyes are googly, his are beautiful” I was taken aback and didn’t know how to respond. I stayed silent. But did that hurt, those words made me doubt what I had always thought, that my eyes were pretty. It is amazing the power of someone else’s words especially when they are of the negative variety, it is difficult to undo the harm and I think that is why I think long and hard before I speak, I do not want to inflict such pain on another. Who am I to do that? Anyway even if I had responded to my mother-in-law and told her that she had hurt my feelings, she would have said to get over it, she was only telling the truth. I know that for a fact, because I was there when she had said the same thing to others.

What I was always too cowardly to say, was that what she was saying wasn’t the “truth” it was only her opinion. Her opinion did not make it the truth, however in reality I couldn’t have responded in such a manner because it had taken me a long while before I was able to arrive at that conclusion. Though since then, this conclusion has served me very well and opened my eyes to what criticism is really all about, opinions and not necessarily the truth.

For all of my mother-in-law’s quirks I did love her, she was funny and vivacious, she was family and we did have a lot of good times together.