“Why did you put yourself out there?” I say to myself. It’s one of my harsh tones. My scolding voice. It swears without swearing. Implies insulting putdowns without actually articulating them — which is more insulting on a certain level, because it forces me to mentally imagine what I’m not saying.
And imagine. And imagine.
Before I know it, a mental diatribe has tumbled out. And it won’t stop tumbling, winding round and round like a stone in a rock tumbler. I suppose that means it hasn’t really tumbled out. It just tumbles onward ad infinitum.
To say I’m disappointed in myself would be an understatement. I’m devastated. And worse yet, I’ve devastated myself by doing something that makes me feel foolish.
“What’s wrong?” a friend asks when she notices my behavior is a little off. It’s not something I expect, for the people who know me well to cue into little changes in my mood, and it still takes me a bit offguard every time.
I fight the urge to evade the inquiry. To whip up a privacy screen of some sort. And I tell her the truth: “I looked to someone for approval that I really shouldn’t have. Someone who has hurt me a lot in the past. Who has a proven track record of letting me down.”
“You’re upset because you gave someone who hurt you another chance?”
I nod. “I feel completely idiotic.”
She laughs. “Oh, Page, it’s not idiotic at all. It’s forgiving. A little optimistic arguably but only in hindsight.”
I screw up my face, glad she can’t see me. (Masks are lovely that way). “I guess.”
Even with my face covered, my tone is unconvincing. “Look at it this way. Would you think I was stupid for doing the same thing?”
I consider this for a moment. Realize she’s right. “I know,” I say. “Geez, we’re all such hypocrites, aren’t we? Double standards for ourselves and other people.”
“Indeed,” she says laughing. “All my favorite people are harder on themselves. My least favorite people do it the opposite way, getting on everyone else’s case for stuff they do and don’t feel the least bit guilty about.”
“Same,” I say. And I start laughing too.