That was the reply I got when I asked a dad at school what had happened to his eye. It was a real shiner! Knowing his wife, I knew this was just a line. He laughed loudly and I laughed along. At which point I’m left with a choice. Do I call him on it? You know, ask him what really happened, check he’s ok and all that kindly nurturing stuff that is like second nature to me.
Or do I accept that he doesn’t want to talk about it and move on? I’m the queen of authenticity. There’s nothing I detest much more than when people feel compelled to put a brave face on stuff. Openness and being real is just so much more honest and healthy isn’t it?
But. That’s my choice. Just because I’d rather everyone was honest about stuff doesn’t mean that others have to agree with me does it? So how do I balance my wants with what this other person would prefer to have happened?
Is there any way of walking this tightrope in a way that remains true to your core values without squashing other people in the process?
Life’s not black and white is it? There has to be a middle ground. I’ll be totally honest with you. I’m pretty noisy. I let my heart rule my head and I have been known, on occasions, to land myself in hot water as a result. But I’m delighted that, for once, I think I might have danced in the lion’s den and won.
I could have not mentioned this chap’s eye at all. I could have nodded a good morning and walked on. But that would have meant denying the person I am. I’m not the person who will ignore obvious hurt. I’m not one for skirting around stuff. I say things that other people might just think. I could have been totally focused on being true to myself and asked the guy what really happened. But that would have been really selfish. The way he laughed off my question made it pretty clear that he didn’t want to talk about it.
So back to our scene:
He laughed. I laughed. And then …
Me: Good answer.
More laughter from all parties but then, because as much as I wanted to be sensitive, I also needed to at least give a nod toward the concerned, caring nature in me …
“And you survived. You’re ok?”
“Yes”, came the reply. His way of saying that all was still well in the world and I moved on, content.