Think before you speak

I’m a Single Mum. I always think, to myself, that it’s my superpower. Because it’s bloody difficult and I think I’m managing quite well under fairly extreme circumstances. I’ll go along in my little life – not quite merrily, not quite yet – managing everything that needs doing/attending to. Then I’ll get blindsided by comments. Always from women.

A few choice ones from a lunch meeting I had at my son’s school the other day…[yes, unfortunately, I became the main topic of conversation for at least ten minutes].

“Goodness, it must be really hard being a Single Mum…” [Yep, I think, drawing a deep breath] “…my husband’s away a lot so I totally get what you’re going through”….[Really? Really?]

“I’m a Christian, we believe marriage is a big commitment…” [So did I, I think, biting my lip] “…marriage is supposed to be forever. You can’t just decide that’s it and move on. You made a commitment to each other” [I confess, I did reply to this particularly lovely lady, perhaps slightly sharply, “My husband used to beat me. He did it in front of the children. He’s also hit my son. Please don’t judge me when you don’t know anything about my situation”…how I got the words out, between gritted teeth and fighting away tears, I honestly don’t know. She has ‘politely’ avoided me since the incident. Thank goodness. Just thinking about what she said makes me tremble with rage and indignation].

“Don’t you worry what will happen if they don’t have a positive male role in their life? It’s proven that fatherless girls are more likely to have underage pregnancies and boys are more likely to turn to crime” [Really? really? Erm, yes, all the time. It’s one of the things that keeps me awake at night. As soon as I can travel to be with my family, there are positive male role models galore in my family and my circle of friends. None of them are abusive. All of them are waiting – anxiously, very anxiously – to be able to welcome us all back in to their arms, to provide any and all care/attention/love that’s going to be needed]

“I’m sure you’ll meet someone else. You’re still young and still quite pretty” [Firstly, I’m actually still very attractive….secondly, I have no intention of wanting to meet anyone else for the very long foreseeable future. My children have been through enough. My own needs in that department have to come a Great Big Second Place to their well-being].

“Well, I guess you’re happy that the fighting is over”….[if only this were true, I ache].

“Don’t you worry what image you’re projecting, as a Mother?”…[Really? Really? It’s honestly not like I asked for any of this to happen. I didn’t wear a sign around my neck asking for the abuse to happen. Didn’t ever want my children to come from ‘a broken home’…]

“How do you manage….financially? I wouldn’t have a clue, my husband takes care of all that”…[Firstly: I really hope your husband never leaves you, because I’m lucky that I have a thriving career and I have always been able to support myself pre-theft. Secondly: I don’t – really don’t – need reminding about money. Thank you very much. Thirdly: I wouldn’t dream of asking about your financial status].

“I just don’t know how you do it” [“It” isn’t an ordeal. I love my children more than anything in the world and I do what I have to do for them]

…and many, many, more.

I came away from the ‘conversation’ totally drained. Women can be so nasty [my preference for male friends, as a child, flashing through my eyes as I walked away…boys/men – they’re so much less hassle]. Don’t get me wrong, when you find a good female friend, that friendship will probably be lifelong and is worth its weight in gold, but when there’s a bunch of women who don’t know each other that well, there’s always a few of them (the insecure ones) who’ll try to make someone in the group look/feel bad, in a vain attempt to make themselves feel a little bit better. [Mental note – must tell my daughter (when she’s a little older): never engage in petty nastiness, it’ll only dent your grace].

A few minutes after the conversation, I got really sad. Not for me, not for the things they said, but because this sort of stuff happens all the time the world over. People don’t think before they speak. They don’t speak consciously and, because of this, their words can hurt. 

Not thinking before you speak is unacceptable, yet so many people do it, so often. And once the words are out there, even if they’re taken back, later, with an apology (three of the Mums did apologise, profusely, later), the way the words made you feel cannot be taken back.

No-one has a right hurt you with their words [Why do I have the lyrics to Curtis Mayfield’s People Get Ready floating round my head?].

Just a little reminder, I guess, to you all: if we all tried to be that little more conscious of the effects our words might have, and didn’t let unconsidered words leave our mouth, we’d smooth the path for those around us, those whose paths we cross.

Loved this graphic I found on Pinterest:

3c93d190145f0c08a7402919a4acbb47

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16 thoughts on “Think before you speak

  1. zareenn3 says:

    I hate that line. My mom was a single mum two years ago and people came up to her and stay stuff like, I know exactly how you feel. When they really had no clue!

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  2. Lizelle says:

    Ugh people can be ever SO stupid -.- I don’t know what makes anyone feel they have the right to assume in this way.

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  3. Rachel G says:

    I long ago came to the opinion that no matter what the situation, for better or worse people are going to talk, they are going to have their say, no matter their opinion. Words hurt, like crazy sometimes, but because we all have the benefit of experience, we can tell when they aren’t true, and we can try as best as we can not to let those un-true words spoken in ignorance hurt us for real, though they sting. Sometimes people say stupid stuff but you still know they really do care about you, they just aren’t good at knowing what they ought to say…other times, you can tell that they don’t care at all for your own good.

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  4. People will say hurtful, offensive, and rude things just to make themselves feel a little better… unfortunately, yes. “Confidence is silent, insecurities are loud.” Still, it’s very hard for me to digest someone actually saying these things to your face, just like that. I’m glad you stood up for yourself; sometimes you need to put people in their places, for your own sake. Keep calm and stay positive!

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    • iwillbloom says:

      I live in a culture where people are much more direct than they would be in, say the US or the UK. Unfortunately…. If only people would think before they speak…. 😦

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  5. Carly says:

    I am sorry you have to deal with these comments. These women seem clueless…..
    I have a friend who is a single mom and I often find myself saying “I don’t know how you do it.” In my mind it’s not meant as negative comment and I hope it’s not perceived as one. I say it to acknowledge that I am sure she is in a hard situation, I respect her for keeping it together, and that I don’t judge her because I don’t know how she is doing it.
    The Doctor Diva

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  6. I love that ‘Think’ graphic, I try (sometimes I’m less successful) to use that in my daily life but even my careless slips of the tongue don’t (I really hope) come close to some of those things they said. I just can’t imagine telling someone their life choices were wrong or that I disagree, it’s different (only slightly) in a general conversation to say something like “marriage is a big commitment” but to say that to someone who for WHATEVER reason is no longer married is just unkind. I am glad you have this space to vent and to re-affirm to yourself that what they said is really inaccurate and reflects much more on them, than on you. I hope this hasn’t weighed down your whole week. You didn’t deserve that.

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    • iwillbloom says:

      Thanks for your comment, so much appreciated. [My week wasn’t weighed down – I vented and then moved on….one advantage of all this is that my skin is somewhat thicker than it was before] xxx

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  7. Chelsea says:

    How I missed this post I have no idea, but seriously- I cannot believe people say this to you! I guess I’m not to surprised, some people really just don’t think, and it is my number one pet peeve! you just can’t treat people like this! Oh I’m irate for you! So glad you told that one woman how it is, and then they say ” Oh, that’s just who I am.” That is not an excuse to be rude! Anyway, I am rambling, because I ache for you, and I so want you to be happy, and get to be with your family, and feel whole and content.

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