Ugly and Unkind.

 

Brutal honesty here.

So tonight I realized that I have an ugly and unkind heart. Well, being charitable, maybe it’s more of an ugly and unkind streak in an otherwise earnest and hopeful heart. At least, I’d like to think so.

How did I learn this awful truth?

I saw a social media post from an individual who was reaching out humbly for some support, not knowing where else to turn.  The person was one whom I knew in passing and observation.  Not personally…because for one reason or another –  I can’t really recall – I never cared for that person, so I began to regard them with disdain.

It started with dismissal and light mockery in my head and a nickname I bestowed (I thought it was witty) when talking to my friend.  I think I just found the person an odd bird at first, and then pretty soon, our limited interaction served only to confirm my self-fulfilling thoughts.  At that point, anything that was said or done just added weight to my opinion.  Without any understanding, armed only with my assumptions, I was pretty smug.  And so it was easy to write this individual off or use them as a punchline.  I got a lot of mileage out of it.

So then tonight happened.

And it was then I realized that this was a real person with a story, and I was a petty, self-righteous hypocrite. I wouldn’t be able to live up to my own standards, and yet I felt comfortable judging someone for — what, exactly?  Being different.  But aren’t we all?  I let my initial impression morph into something ugly and unkind, and I went along for the ride.  In my imagination, I’d already written some backstory that fit in with what I thought I already knew, which was mostly my creation.  I never realized how far I let it go until now.

I’m sure it took a lot to ask for help.  Most of us have too much pride for that, don’t we?  And it’s easy to judge a person who offers up too much information, laying themselves bare and open like that.  Too needy.  Attention whore. But I still believe that it took courage for them to ask, knowing they could easily be humiliated.

It put a lump in my throat, quite actually.

I’ve been judged and I’ve been misjudged. I’ve been mocked and dismissed and treated ‘less than.’ And I didn’t like it, and I didn’t deserve it, and yet here I am puking it out of my own mouth. Shame on me.

Wretched.

My mother’s words are in my head:  You are not perfect, either.

She’s right, of course.

And I’m sorry.  I pledge to start fresh and extend a hand to this person in some way. The post has received a lot of positive response from others, and I am glad to see that.  I am ashamed that mine is not among them.  I have to work on my own heart and mind before I can reach out to that person, but I will, you can be certain of that. Because I just saw myself in a mirror and I don’t like what I saw.

In closing, I leave you with this:

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.
Dalai Lama

 

 

 

image credit AhmadHammoud

Happy Mother’s Day, Momma.

Back in the day. That’s me in the front.

5/12 Daily Prompt: Hi, Mom!
Today is Mother’s Day in the United States. Wherever in the world you are, write your mother a letter.

Hi, Mom.
It’s been a long while since I’ve heard from you: 14 years and a couple months.  I can actually remember the very day, because it was my birthday.

Things are pretty good here.  I”ll try to catch you up.
Daughter Dearest is a good mother with two lovely little girls of her own; they always put a smile on my face.  The boys are fine young men; I’m sure you’d be proud of them.  One’s in college and the other graduates high school next month.  They all have the world at their feet.  I love that they have the same sense of humor you have — silly and smart.  They sing songs and change the words for fun.  They make up words and aren’t afraid to make fun of themselves.  And they have good hearts, all of them.  They have compassion and kindness and respect for other people.

I wonder how you managed with all of us, your ‘passel of kids.’  Sure, the older ones helped a lot with the younger ones, but you still had to supervise and make sure the household ran as smoothly as possible.  You cooked our hot breakfasts, the wonderful homemade soups, the freshly-baked breads and pies, and my personal favorite: the roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.  What I wouldn’t give for a nice Sunday dinner at Mom’s.

Now that I’m older, I can appreciate your sacrifices so much more.  Some of them I never knew, but that was your way.  You always worked behind the scenes, talking to Dad on our behalf, fixing things, and helping us along.  Your own dreams were replaced by the dreams of your children; you wanted nothing more than for us to be healthy, happy, and kind.  You taught us to be thankful for the life we have, to work hard, and to keep a song in our hearts.

My mother on my wedding day.
My mother on my wedding day.

We all come to the point in our lives where we look or sound like our parents.  I remember you talking about that.  I laugh when it happens to me, when I cry out in frustration, “Oh, peanuts, popcorn, and Cracker Jack!”  Or when I hear a song on the radio and sing your lyrics instead.  Or when I stand at the stove with my hand on my hip and realize that I must look exactly like you from behind.

Oh, and I have a confession: yes, it was I who dug down into the chest freezer for those tubs of frozen berries.  I would only take a few at a time, so nobody would notice, and I’d replace the tub where I had found it.  They were so good, I couldn’t help myself.  Yes, it was I who found those large packs of Wrigley gum that Dad had confiscated from my sisters and stole one piece at a time — again, so nobody would notice.  Yes, I smoked cigarettes out my bedroom window.  I thought I was getting away with it until my sister found the butts and turned me in.  Well, that and the small burn in the window sheers.

I know I was a mouthy brat as a kid.  That hasn’t changed much.
What also hasn’t changed, and never will, is my love and respect for you.

Happy Mother’s Day.

wreath 3-15-00 cropped
Rest in peace, Momma.