Here’s what happened —
I was already feeling giddy when I got together last week with others for our weekly writers group meeting. Maybe I was still riding the high that comes from writing something new after worrying I would never be able to again. It had been so long since I’d tried to cohesively form words, sentences and paragraphs into a story. I overthought every time I sat in front of my computer. No stories coalesced for two full weeks. It was an awful feeling.
Eventually, just forcing myself to sit, focus and write one afternoon, I found myself twenty-five pages deep into a new story. What a relief! Even though that story’s still a work-in-progress, I ran what I’d written by both Lauren and David and got their blessings. More importantly, they laughed. Again, I felt that sense of relief. So, I printed out five pages of this new story to read at writers group.
When I arrived, I was — hopeful. And giddy. I was in the mood to laugh. I couldn’t wait to share.
Another person read first. I could tell she was just as excited as I was about reading what she’d been working on. As she read, something struck me as hilarious — absurdity at its finest. I laughed.
Is there anything worse than not getting laughs when you’re trying to be funny? Yes. Yes, there is. That’s getting laughs when you’re being serious.
My writer friend demanded to know what was so funny. She wasn’t laughing. I tried to explain. Explaining only made things worse. I’ve got to admit, she was grace under pressure. She held her cool. Didn’t stomp off or start crying or screaming or getting hostile. She was disappointed, though. I could see it in her eyes. I thought I was laughing with her. She thought I was laughing at her.
I apologized — for whatever that’s worth.
If she reads this — and chances are she won’t because why would she read my blog after I was so mean — but if she does, I want to say, I’m sorry. Again. I won’t say her name or divulge any extra details. I’m sure y’all understand.
I’d take back my laughter, my explanations — all of it — if I could. I wasn’t trying to hurt her, especially my good friend who was sharing a memory and her truth with a group she trusted. The real problem is that I didn’t read the situation as well as I should have. I was caught up in my own sense of giddiness. Not that that’s an excuse.
Also, every person who has the courage to write and read their story and their truth to a writers group should feel comfortable and safe without fear of harsh criticism, judgment or feeling like they were being made fun of. I’ve been on the receiving end of that — more times than I care to admit — but not with this group. That kind of stuff can do real damage. I know this firsthand. I hope that isn’t what she felt, but I worry she might have. She doesn’t deserve any of that. No one does.
So, again, to my friend: I’m so sorry. Also, thank you for sharing your story with me and all of us. I encourage you to keep writing and sharing. You have so much to offer. You’re kind and smart and I truly appreciate your friendship. You definitely have my respect. Please ignore me when I’m being an idiot or just give me a Gibbs’ slap to the back of the head when I need one. I will do better.
I inserted my foot firmly into my mouth.
Not for the first time. As much as I’d like to believe it was for the last time, my guess is that it won’t be. Some of us *raising my hand* have a knack for getting into trouble, of having situations go awry despite good intentions.
Also, toe jam isn’t nearly as delicious as you’d think it might be — even if you’ve weirdly acquired a taste for it because you’ve had no other choice but to.
I’d appreciate any words of wisdom y’all have!
and music —
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Sparkle on Wayward Friends,
16 thoughts on “Mea Culpa”
Oh no! Poor you. Poor your friend. The very definition of awkward. I remember having a laughing fit with a friend during religious services. Nothing could stop the giggles – not even the glare from my Mother.
I hope you continue to try to get through to her, because even as embarrassing as it is to think you’re being laughed at, letting that feeling fester will corrode her self-confidence eventually. So try a more direct mea culpa if you can. And if she doesn’t accept it, try to forgive yourself because YOU know you weren’t being deliberately unkind. (Just keeping you up-to-date – the ‘like’ button still won’t acknowledge me).
I know, right? The first title I had for this was Cringe because that’s what I do whenever I think about what happened. Then I changed it to Insert Foot because that’s clearly what I did. But this is my Mea Culpa, so that’s what I ended up titling it. I feel awful for what I did.
There is nothing funnier or more contagious than having a bad case of the giggles and then trying to contain them and focus on something more serious as any TV broadcaster who’s been in that situation can attest to. I haven’t seen this happen too often, but I usually end up giggling, too. If you and I had known each other as kids in school or church, we would probably have gotten into a lot of trouble together, my friend! Thanks for your words of wisdom. I will do as you suggest.
FYI about the ‘like’ button — when I originally started this blog — too many years ago, I wasn’t even given the option of having a ‘like’ button because I don’t think that was even available. A couple/few years later, I had my WP guy add that in. God, I miss him! Barbara, I’d say just ignore the stupid ‘like’ button for now. If I ever find a new techie to help me with this issue and a few more that are starting to crop up, I’ll let you know. Again, thanks for your kind words! Much love to you, my friend! Mona
BTW, I also don’t get your music videos through my e-mail. I got to this page through verifying that I’m following you (for the 4 thousandth time) and see the videos here. I guess I never knew what I was missing!
Well that explains that. I try to always put music on my posts. If I don’t for some reason, I usually say so; but I love music, and I always wanted to be a disc jockey and if the post doesn’t appeal to you, my hope is that one of the songs will. Therefore, I add music to the end of my posts. It’s always my hope that either someone will hear something they’ve never heard before and discover it or that it will take them down memory lane. I don’t know how successful this is, but sometimes a friend will alert me to a song that I was either not aware of or had forgotten about that truly fits in with my post and I’m always grateful for that. Also, I hear music I love on their blogs. I love my Wayward Friends! Again, sorry about the verification thing. I don’t know what’s up with that either. I want to say that it’s a built-in program? to catch ‘bots’ and block them from my site. Not positive, though. According to my stats, tens of thousands of ‘bots’ have been blocked — which is what I want. Again, this was something that was updated over time. Prior to that, I’d get weird messages from these computer-generated bots but no one else. When you’re starting out and no one knows you or that your site even exists, you’re kind of thankful for getting any message. You get over that pretty quickly when you realize that you’re not getting a message from a human and that they’re trying to sell you something on a different site. If it helps — and it probably doesn’t — I deal with having to verify who I am, too, on other people’s sites even though I’ve been following them for years and comment regularly. It’s annoying as hell, but I’m not sure how anyone can get around this. AI is much smarter than we are at this point. 🙁
Been there, done that! Numerous times in fact. The one that sticks out most to me is from when I was in college. I had a Social Statistics class I was struggling mightily with. The professor was a man with a very thick New York accent and I had such a hard time understanding what he was saying half the time. The subject matter didn’t interest me much either. I had to drag myself to that class and could not wait till it was over. So, I’m at a party (as one does in college) during this time, chatting away with a few other people. Bitching about certain classes, and of course I start complaining about my awful Stats professor who I could barely understand. And guess what? One of the fellow co-eds I was complaining about him to, pipes up and says “Yeah, that’s my dad”. Oops!! Fortunately for me, she added that she had heard this from other students so it didn’t put her off. We all do it Mona! We are human, right?
I thought you were going to say that your professor was standing right behind you! Even so — I know that feeling all too well! Also, I hated statistics. I barely passed and I remember damned little from it other than if you know how to do it, you can manipulate numbers to get just about any result you’re trying to get. I don’t know if that’s absolutely true or not, but that’s what my professor said. I haven’t trusted any statistics I’ve ever heard since. Glad you passed stats, survived college and have great tales to tell about that and so much more! Also, you are sooo right. We are, indeed, human! Bunches of hugs, Mona
Having been a member of a few writing groups, well, I’ve never seen anything quite like this, but I could understand how it could happen. I’m known as the joker of the group–surprise!–but I’m always serious when it comes to feedback. In my current group we also have a rule about the “feedback sandwich”: say something positive first, then suggestions for improvement, followed by a final positive thought. It’s always worked well, but, like you said, reading work in front of a group, especially difficult, soul-baring work takes a lot of courage. Even when the feedback has been positive I know there are times when sharing wasn’t easy.
I wish I could offer something useful, or funny here. Well, I am glad you’ve got a new story going and that it’s pretty funny.
Thanks for your thoughts, Chris! I agree with you about the “Feedback sandwich” rule of thumb. Also, I could see you adding levity to your writers group. Nothing wrong with that!
Maybe I’m mistaken, but I started going to writers groups to help improve my writing and, hopefully, provide the same for others. I’m a founding member of this particular writers group and hope to provide (preferably decent) feedback (gentle but honest — always well-intentioned) meant to be helpful. I always appreciate getting the same. Our group used to have that goal. As one person (not a founding member) once admonished me, “We’re not here for that. No one wants to hear their story needs improvement from a friend. We’re here to share and encourage each other. That’s it. If you want real feedback, hire someone.” Oh, really. When did that happen? Well, that’s why I was going to writers group, anyway (my bad.) The weird thing is that’s what I used to get. It’s more of a social group now. Ah well.
Also, I saw this “friend” yesterday, again, at writers group. I’d like to say that the above was resolved and all is well. Yeah, sometimes life doesn’t go the way we hope. (Well, when does it ever?) Anyway, I learned a lot and that is something. Still processing. Writing helps me to do that, so some of it might end up in my book. (I’ll make it amusing if possible.) What I can say is that true colors came out yesterday. So, even though disappointing, it’s always good to know who people are and who your friends are and aren’t. And now I do. Hugs, Mona
How about – “I’m just a soul whose intentions are good..Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood…” I’m with you, Mona – and perhaps it’s not the same boat, but it’s similar. If I feel like I may have said something to somebody that might have taken it the wrong way, it drives me absolutely bonkers with worry and second-guessing.
But hey – you apologized. And explained. Was she kind to you after that?
I am so happy you’re back!
Hey Roger —
It would have been nice if she had, but it didn’t turn out well. It got to be weird and ugly pdq. 😕 Wish it hadn’t, but I’m better off knowing what I now know. Ya know? I know what my intentions were/are. Now I know what hers are as well. Such is life. Also, I love The Animals. Thanks much for your kindness, words of wisdom and song! It helped so much! Have a great week ahead, my friend! It’s good to be back. Mona
Wow. Yes, open mouth, insert foot. Toe Jam and all.
I’d reach out personally to her and try to explain how you were feeling GIDDY inside and it escaped while she was reading her story.
Thanks for your words of wisdom. Everything you said makes total sense. As it turned out, my “friend” read my post. Afterward, she texted me (said she understood, she appreciated that I wrote this and that everything was okay) and then she said something really ugly directed at me at our next meeting. She was looking for revenge and she delighted in getting it. Again, it was in her eyes, what she said and her laughter. Don’t know what to say about that. I’m sorry my several apologies to her weren’t good enough. I don’t like games — they are toxic and destructive — and I refuse to play them. Ugh. She knows all of this, btw. We used to be fairly close. Again, thanks for your support, Suz! Hugs, Mona
When I do something like you did, I fret about it for a while but eventually my better nature takes over and I ascribe the situation to a *learn experience* that makes me a more well-rounded person. I’m amazing round at this point. 😉
That’s a perfect way to look at this, Ally! Thanks for your thoughts! I wish I were a little less well-rounded, but…
That was a tough situation you were in. There was no way to slink out of the room, or anything like that. Very, very uncomfortable!
It was. Life has those moments, though.