Something I Do Not Understand

Yeah, I am going to complain about something here. About something that someone said to me. You have been warned. But don’t worry. I will be brief. Or least brief-ish. For me.

The situation summed up is this: Someone I know said some things that offended me a bit because they seemed to me to be insulting. But I know that the person had good intentions when they said these things. So I did what, as a Dominant and a Christian, seemed reasonable to me to do. (No, this is not a D/s relationship, but I did what I think a responsible Dominant and Christian should do in dealing with other people, even vanilla people.) I owned my problem and apologized. More specifically, in an attempt to diffuse a situation that could cause undue problems later, I sent an e-mail explaining why I was offended, apologizing for being offended, and also explaining the person need not apologize because the fault was mine for perceiving their comments that way.

I apologized for two basic reasons. One is that, as I have said before here, if you are offended it is because you are offendable. I was, in that instance, offended because I was offendable, and not because the person intended any sort of insult. The other reason I apologized was so that they person would not feel I was trying to cause trouble. In that, I apparently failed to a superlative degree.

What I got in reply was nothing but criticism. Basically I got told the comments that originally offended me were all my fault, and somehow my explanation and apology, along with apparently just about every other interaction we have ever had (even though I thought we generally got along fine), made the person feel burdened in their dealings with me.

Just to be clear, I got criticized for apologizing and saying a problem was my fault. This offended the other person to the degree they felt they needed to lecture me on how difficult I was being. What the F—?

I identified a problem, and it was mine. I said it was my problem. And I apologized for that. And for that, I got criticized. I confess, I do not understand that.

I was not sarcastic. I did my best to be respectful. I never even used the word insult in explaining why I felt I had been insulted. As directly and politely as I know how, I explained how I perceived the meaning of their comments to me. I then told the person they did not need to apologize, that they had done nothing for which they needed to apologize and that I knew they meant well. And I thanked the person for it. I specifically and directly and intentionally said the words “I thank you for it.”  And I also said “the problem is entirely my own.”

How is that offensive?

Granted, I could have said nothing. And apparently, I should have said nothing because apparently my apology for my problem is a burden to this person. But how is communication a bad thing? I explained myself, and I apologized and I took full responsibility for the matter, and somehow the result is that the other person is upset now and feels burdened that I mentioned it at all.

I clearly do not understand this. I genuinely do not understand this. At all.

I welcome any and all comments to help me understand this.

And if you are wondering, while I was very tempted to respond this person’s reply point by point and explain why this person is being unreasonable, I did not do that. I ignored my pride and simply apologized once more. Getting into a fight over this would do no one any good.

Hm. I guess this post was not all that brief. Over 600 words. Oh well.

8 Responses to “Something I Do Not Understand”

  1. Christia C. Says:

    Well, I’m a born-again 12 Stepper and have had the privilege of walking about 3 dozen people through ninth-step amends. One thing that I always warn sponsees about as they begin the amends process is the possibility that someone to whom my sponsee is attempting to make amends may still be so unwell that he/she will use that attempt as an opportunity to puff him/herself up at the sponsee’s expense and/or just in general to temporarily alleviate his/her own insecurities and low self-esteem by emotionally beating up on my sponsee.

    What I basically tell my sponsees is that they have done their part by going to make the amend in good faith with humility and honesty and that they are never under any circumstances obligated to tolerate abuse in return. If someone to whom they are attempting to make an amend chooses to go off on them in this, or any other, way, I advise them to excuse themselves politely, offering to revisit the issue with the acting-out person if that person should wish to do so when he/she is in a better emotional/spiritual place.

    And, then, of course, I work with the sponsee to help him/her forgive the other person rather than nurse a(nother) resentment against him or her — a process that usually involves praying for that person and nurturing compassion for his/her emotional/spiritual “sickness.”

    From what you’ve said, it seems to me like you’ve done your part, so now you just need to let it go/give it to God so that this individual, who clearly does not deserve it, is not taking up your time or energy. You’ve indicated that you identify as a Christian, so praying for him/her might be helpful…

    …and, based on my own experience and the experience of the people I’ve worked with on this, you’ll know that you’ve succeeded in letting it go/giving it to God when you can gladly and sincerely pray for this individual to have everything that you want for yourself.

    Good luck — Christia

    P.S. As a general rule, I try to take it as a good sign and get some comfort from the fact that I do not understand the behavior and motivation of obviously still very emotionally and spiritually unwell people.

  2. I don’t see that you did anything wrong at all. What has happened, as far as I can tell, is you hit a nerve of theirs.

    You owned your response to their words, and you apologised. You needn’t have done either, but felt it necessary for whatever the motivation. In stead of a response “in kind” you ticked them off! And they got personal.

    Happens all the time. You just have to “choose your battles” and know that the most successful people in this world are those with resistance (i.e. don’t let the bastards get to you). Water off a duck’s back, dust off, pick up and continue on your path.

    Respectfully
    deb

  3. In addition to the above, the reason people get “ticked off” is there is an emotional response to our words/actions. Before they have thought this through, they react – not objectively, but emotionally (they may even seem calm, but nevertheless the catalyst to their behaviour is emotional).

    The best thing to do is give them time and space, however, this emotional reaction may just keep on surfacing, which means this person hasn’t worked through their issues.

    So, do you allow for this (i.e. understanding and tolerance) because you enjoy their co., or is it a deal breaker (you now may feel you have to walk on eggshells….).

    You were the healthy one, in terms of owning it, and then apologising, they should have been able to be resilient enough to withstand your comments…. and discuss them objectively if they took issue with them.

    Respectfully
    deb

  4. Sir, Could this possibly be a situation where, this person was projecting their own feelings of failures, insecurities and fears onto you?

    I saw this happen enough times in my previous relationship, where the man I was with would talk badly about someone else, all the things he disliked about this other person which by the way he didn’t know at all and only went by appearances, were the very things he embodied, his faults, his insecurities and fears. It didn’t matter what this person said or did, he continued to project onto that person his own faults and insecurities. He did this numerous times with individuals he knew nothing about, in the end when I finally opened my eyes and saw him clearly I could hear the words he had spoken and could see they were a reflection of him.

    Seeing this woke me up to paying attention to any judgements I made of other people, especially if I didn’t know them, and made me aware of when I felt badly about a person or situation it was because of something inside of me and not the actual situation. It also helped me understand when someone treated me badly or lashed out at me, that it was a product of their own feelings about themselves and had nothing to do with me. I just happened to be the poor sod who was there when the dam broke and they felt the need to lash out.

    I believe the person you spoke of was only telling you what they felt about themselves.

    I hope this helps, Sir.

    • Yes, that the person was projecting insecurities is entirely possible. I did sometimes feel that this person’s problem with me was largely one of being unhappy that I tried to do more than just a half-assed mediocre job. On the other hand, I am not a man of social subtlety and tact. Sometimes people just take that as rudeness on my part. Which I suppose in a way it is, but not in a way I ever really cared to do much about. I refuse to obfuscate my meaning with webs of socially pleasing supplications. That does not actually help anyone, in my opinion. Which is probably the real core of the problem this person had with me.

      (This is not to say I am blunt for bluntness sake. I am not that much a fool.)

      • Never thought you a fool, Sir. I think you showed considerable restraint under the circumstances and handled it admirably. While the other person was the fool.

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