I am fairly even keeled and slow to anger but I wasn’t always like that. One time I was attacked.
My assailant struck out because of fear. She stabbed at me from confusion. The shallow cuts were meant to hurt me. I hurt her instead.
Am I wrong for fighting back? Any reasonable jury wouldn’t place blame on the victim for self-defense.
What if my cuts were a lethal blow? I knew her weakness. She never showed me on purpose but I knew where to strike. Am I still innocent?
What if I knew her weapon wasn’t dangerous? The edges were dull and might as easily have been a spoon. Do you turn the other cheek if you know you have the upper hand?
I struck back with my own knife, my words. A razor that had no business being used at the time.
A girl I was dating had decided that we weren’t meant to be and had been stewing over telling me for several days. The worst part of the story is that I felt the exact same way. We made decent friends and were both at a transitional place in life but there was no destiny at play in our association.
She called one evening and asked to come by and talk. Everyone knows what that means. I agreed and she entered my apartment like it was a funeral. Somber face, nicely dressed but not in a playful way, and with the smile that doesn’t curve upward because the sides are weighted down with pity.
“Look, I know what you are going to say and I don’t mind.”
“It just isn’t working and I don’t know if it is me or you or..”
“I don’t mind really. It was fun and I understand. Seriously, no hard feelings.”
“Are you doing that thing? Where you try to turn things around and make me think things?”
“So we can be friends?”
“Can I tell you something? I mean if you feel the same way, like things just aren’t there…”
“What is it?” Now my ego takes over and I am curious why she was tapping out.
“I am thinking about going back to my old boyfriend.”
He was a douche. Regardless of my ego, which was completely against being a second choice, he was a terrible idea.
“That is a terrible idea.” Probably not the best phrasing and a little quick on the draw.
“I don’t see how that is your business anymore.”
“It never was my business but it’s the truth.”
“I just have to follow my heart, you wouldn’t know anything about that!”
“Didn’t you just dump me? What the hell? I am talking about using your brain.”
“I don’t have to take this!”
“No. I suppose you don’t.” I feel that I am missing something or maybe I am in a different conversation.
She stormed out the door and I stood there a little confused. I had been dumped and at the same time I was in trouble for not being upset enough about it? I knew she was upset and just being temporarily unreasonable so I laughed it off. Then I got a phone call.
The voice on the other end was angry and a little cry-ish. “You fucker! You were going to dump me! I see how much it meant to you! I made the right choice!”
“You dumped me?!? Why am I in trouble for agreeing with you? It isn’t a choice between two people, Im just saying that [John Doe] is a piece of shit.”
“You are an asshole!”
“You know what?”
“I feel sorry for you!”
That was the zinger. Here was a person who dumped me, asked for an opinion she didn’t want, and pitied me for having a shitty life (which I didn’t). I felt like a complete bystander who was getting beaten down and it pissed me smooth-the-fuck off. So, I fired back.
“Wait just a second. Let me talk a second.” This was just me getting a running start.
“Fine! Talk.”, she huffed.
“I just want to get this straight. You crashed out as a model, failed out of school, and work at a makeup counter during the day so you can afford a nice apartment, a shitty car, and a box of wine at night but you pity me? Your major decision in life is returning to a crappy ex-boyfriend in a dead end hometown but I have the short end of the stick? I think you should re-think that whole opinion, I only see one recurring failure in your story and that is you.”
“Fuck you…” The phone went dead. I assume if it wasn’t a cell phone it would have been beaten repeatedly on a receiver to hammer the point home.
I won the argument but it didn’t sit well with me. I should have let her vent and instead I handed her a mirror to stare at her own disappointing decisions. A week later I got news from her friend that as she packed to drive home she learned that her father had taken his own life. Her mother was already out of the picture since her early childhood. She had spent a few years on chasing dreams and needed to regroup, nowhere near a failed life. Suddenly, she didn’t even have a family to return to. That was a cold and empty moment for me.
That moment helped shape who I am. Learning that “winning a battle isn’t always a victory” is something I will carry around for a while. It has made me a better person and more considerate of my words but that doesn’t make it okay.
I have four little girls and I want them to carry their dreams in a fuzzy princess purse forever. They improved my compassion. If some asshole threw their failures in their face just to win an argument I don’t know that I could ever forgive him. Rightfully so.
It is a shitty thing to do.