Bringin’ Up Old Stuff? How I Learned The Importance Of Speaking Your Mind When You’re Mad–Not Later
“Do you remember last year when we were hanging out at ___’s house and you said that I was shady?”
That’s what a former girlfriend said to me during a phone conversation last year where all my past faults were laid out on the table to nitpick over. Unfortunately for both this friend and me, I had no idea what she was talking about, and she couldn’t even remember the conversation that we had that led to this argument, which allegedly led to me calling her the s-word. Seeing as how I couldn’t recall such an incident and it seemed outside my character to even say something like that to anyone, I had to call her on bulls**t. She didn’t like that too much, probably as much as I didn’t like to be accused of things, nor did I like being expected to apologize for things I didn’t remember doing, so it’s safe to say we couldn’t come to an understanding. We haven’t spoken since.
As much as I hated the fact that my friend did such a thing to me, I can say that I’ve played the “Do you remember when you hurt me?” game with others. Boyfriends to be specific. After having a big blow up about something that hurt my feelings, I would let it go for the sake of ending an argument and pretend (though sometimes I thought I was over it) I had really moved on. Let my ex do something that he didn’t seem very apologetic about or that conjured up old feelings and I was ready to bring back up the past beef in an effort to prove a point about how awful I felt I was being treated in the relationship. Though I would watch my ex yell about the fact that I never let stuff go, at the time, I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong. But when the tables were turned and my friend pulled out of her a** things that she either pretended to be over or held inside from me and others until she was ready to blow, I finally realized the error of my past ways. However, I’m not the only person who does this or has been through this. If you do this type of thing, know that while you might think you’re just simply getting things off of your chest, nobody wants to hear that s**t.
It’s extremely important to let people know how you’re feeling when you know that it isn’t something you’ll be ready to let go of soon. When you know it’s not as simple as, “Girl, you still haven’t returned my necklace,” but is more like, “Girl, you embarrassed me in front of my people and I don’t respect that,” the truth must come out. Not only is it good for your own health (who wants to hold all that anger in forever?), but it’s good for the health of your friendship or relationship. If you don’t put folks in check when they hurt you or disregard you, whether it’s intentionally or on accident, they’ll continue to do it. On top of that, they won’t be given the chance to learn from their mistakes and do better as a friend or partner before you’re ready to jump down their throat later. And from experience, I can say that you’ll never get the response you’re looking for from a person if you pull out a long list of grievances way after they’ve happened. It almost comes off as an attack even if you’re simply seeing it as the chance to communicate open and honestly with the person you care about. You can’t expect people to be excited about apologizing or explaining their reasoning for doing something that happened three years ago. Be happy if they can even remember whatever it is you finally decided to get off of your chest.
From my own experiences I can say that while you should know when to let things go (of course, not everything is that serious), it’s imperative to know when to open your mouth and let people know when you feel slighted. If you wait until much later to spill your guts, your feelings might not be met with such understanding, but rather, anger. Know when to open your mouth and be proactive, not passive aggressive (as in, don’t get mad about something and become unreliable, stop talking to folks and constantly complain about everything else because you’re disappointed). If you choose not to, don’t expect people to be so apologetic, because if you snooze, you lose.