Jackasses abound, and you can’t control what comes out of their mouths. For once, I’m not speaking in metaphor. I’m talking about the person who made that upsetting comment to you.
No matter how many books, blogs, and articles there are advising on what not to say to someone who is grieving, who has gotten a terrifying diagnosis, who can’t have children, and so on, jackass comments will continue to happen. How do I know this? Because if you talk long enough a jackass comment comes out once in a while. I know I’ve said my share of them. We all have – it’s called being human.
To be clear, I appreciate the efforts of educating the masses on how not to speak jackass. For instance, never again will I tell someone with cancer, “You look good.” I’ve also stopped asking people any type of question about whether they are going to have a/another child. While I’m all for educating people on what to and what not to say, I am not for putting the blame of your wounds entirely on the jackass.
Practice responses if you must until you can hear jackass comments without being affected by them. For instance, when I was told that my perfectly healthy, active, awesome dad was “in a better place” I was stunned to silence the first handful of times. It felt like a slap in the face. I finally started responding with, “Even so, I’d rather him still be here with me.” It was an honest response, which felt a hell of a lot better than playing along with the conversation.
However you choose to respond, please, for your own sake, don’t stake your claim as the victim. Don’t get caught up in the space of, “Can you believe what they just said?!” Stop making it someone else’s fault that you’re going through a hard time.
When you feel yourself being offended or wounded by another’s comments, there are two points to consider:
1) They just don’t get it. Whatever it is you’re going through, they don’t fully understand your thoughts, emotions, and experiences.
2) You still hurt and have your own stuff to work through. Please please please, be kind to yourself by working through it. This second point is the more important of the two. Unfortunately, it seems to be skipped over a lot these days.
Eventually you will be caught off guard by a jackass remark. If you catch yourself thinking, “I can’t believe they just said that!” remember that jackass happens. Chances are they were just trying to make conversation and wound up braying instead.