Sunday, December 19, 2021

Why I wrote the blog post "Why I don't believe you"

In April 2021, I wrote a blog post "Why I don't believe you". 

So why did I write that?   What prompted that blog post?
I had a terrible experience -- a betrayal -- from a close friend.  Although I felt humiliated and very sad, I found forgiveness in my heart and did my best to put it behind me.  I did not want to confront my friend; I did not want to discuss it or revisit it; the whole thing was just too sad and painful.
But over a two year period, the friend kept bringing it up, in different ways, some subtle, and some direct.  The last time the topic came up, I actually believed that my friend honestly and sincerely wanted me to answer questions about the whole ordeal.    This time, I did not change the subject, leave, or avoid it.  I felt "well... let's get it over with..." 
We had a conversation.

I answered the first question.  Then, I answered the second question.  As I started to answer the third question,  the friend angrily interrupted:  "Well what about you?   You did X and Y!"   So instead of answering sincere and honest questions, I was attacked.  Any time I tried to answer one of the now, presumably rhetorical questions,  I got a "whataboutism",  an interruption,  or an attack.  This continued for about 45 minutes. Actually I did not need to be there as I had little opportunity to provide any answers.  It was not a conversation, but more of a very angry tongue lashing.
By this time in the "conversation",  I started to disassociate.  I felt light-headed.  I lost track of where I was.  I was confused.  I find it extremely difficult to talk while feeling deep emotions, and humiliation and betrayal are very deep feelings.
This conversation felt very unfair.  In my experience, as a manager, when you want to know or learn something from a person, you ask a question and then you shut up.  You let the person answering take as long as they need to answer, and you never, ever interrupt.  You wait a while after they have finished to make certain they have finished answering.  Only then do you ask your next question.
That was not happening in this situation.  
One thing I did learn from my friend is that I had been making hurtful comments to her every time we had been together. She provided an example. 

Over the next few days I reflected on the accusation that I had made hurtful remarks.  I had been extremely angry about the betrayal, but, could not discuss the source of that anger with her for business reasons.  So I figured that yes, even though I was attempting to keep a lid on my unexpressed anger, it was likely coming out as hurtful remarks. 
I took responsibility for my behavior.  I hand-wrote an apology on a nice card and mailed it to my friend: 
During our visit, a week ago Friday, you told me that I had been belittling you, making little digs, and putting you down.  I was unaware that I had been doing this, so I am glad that you brought it to my attention.  I should not have done that.  I am truly sorry for my behavior; it was deplorable.  You deserve to be treated with respect.   Please accept my sincere apology.
A couple of weeks later, the friend sent me an email accepting my apology.  I was grateful that my apology was acknowledged and accepted.  I have not said an unkind word to my friend since then.  

However, there was still the problem of everything else that happened during the verbal tongue lashing that had masqueraded as an honest, sincere conversation.  The conversation had turned into a metaphorical conflagration that only answered some questions, resolved nothing, and made matters worse.  I started thinking about how I could communicate everything that happened,  how I felt about it, without getting interrupted or attacked.
My solution was to write a full accounting of all the events.  Answer all the questions that had, and had not, been asked during the conversation / angry tongue lashing. Share my feelings about the events.
The April 2021 blog post "Why I don't believe you" answers all the questions.  That is why I wrote it;  to finally and completely disclose everything.  Blog posts cannot be interrupted.  They cannot be shouted down.  
There is nothing left for me to state on this topic.  Finally, I am putting it behind me.



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