A few years ago, I was deliberately mean to someone.
I’m not talking about unintentionally hurting someone through a misunderstanding. Nor am I talking about physical hurt, either. For many, many reasons, I don’t do that. I’m talking about the deliberate, malicious, hurting of someone because that was my intent. I’m talking about hurting someone emotionally – of getting to that vulnerable part of someone and twisting them up inside in a way that hurts so badly they’ll never risk pissing you off again.
In my opinion, this particular woman had wronged me and she deserved whatever it was she got. So, I thought about it. I thought about what would hurt her the most and, when I had the opportunity, I did it. I really hurt her. I felt so justified in my meanness. I felt no guilt because, after all, she’d hurt me. That made it right; she deserved it. Right?
It took a few years before I realized I was wrong. In those years, I would gleefully recall my vindictive meanness. With pompous self-righteousness, I would justify my actions to myself and anyone who knew about what I’d done. I had every right – No, I deserved – to treat her as I did. I was still lily-white. She made me be mean.
One day, I dug a little deeper. I thought about what she’d done and what I’d done and how I’d justified it all those years. I thought about how I’d convinced myself that what she’d done made what I did okay. Except it didn’t. Sure, she hurt me and I’d used that as my excuse to hurt her – to be mean. She made me be mean? Bullshit. She didn’t make me be mean. That meanness was and is part of who I am. She was just the excuse for letting it out in the open.
I was horrified.
I’ve always considered myself to be a kind person. In high school, I was the teenage “Dear Abby.” I stood up for the underdog. I helped people. I rarely gossiped. I’d once written in a journal that if I died tomorrow, more than being funny or smart or anything else, I would want people to say that I was kind.
Kind people don’t maliciously hurt other people. No matter what.
It was a hard realization, this understanding that I could be that mean. I didn’t want to accept that about myself. Mean. Me. Hateful, spiteful, malicious, and mean. Me. Unfortunately, I’ve been on a never-ending quest for truth so I had to accept it.
When I got over the massive pity party of realizing I was so awful, I called the woman I’d hurt. I asked her if she’d consider meeting with me for a cup of coffee or something. She was, understandably, cautious but still agreed to come.
I apologized to her. I apologized sincerely and wholeheartedly. She, hesitantly, accepted my apology. She also tried to explain what she’d done and why and that she hadn’t meant to hurt me with her actions. Truth be told, I didn’t care about that. It didn’t matter whether she meant to hurt me or not. I can only be responsible for my actions. Only I can determine whether I will be kind or mean in any situation. Whether she meant it or not, I was hurt. That didn’t justify my being mean to her – or to anyone.
There may be a part of me that is hateful, spiteful, malicious, and mean but I get to decide if that’s how I will act. I have accepted that part of myself but I don’t let it define me or my actions. I choose, everyday, to be kind. Some days, that’s harder than others but the alternative is not acceptable to me.
I may be a wordy bitch but I am no longer a deliberate bitch.