The Arrogant Lecture

When my ex and I were going through our divorce, I called him one day and left a voicemail. I was furious about something (there’s a lot to be furious about when going through a divorce) and felt very proud of my scathing, belittling, you’re-such-a-moron-who-doesn’t-understand-a-thing voicemail. My thought, when I left the voicemail, was that he was clueless and did not “get it,” and I was going to explain the situation to Mr. Clueless using a condensing tone and clever, witticisms.

Most voicemails only allow one to two minutes to leave your message before asking you if you’re satisfied with the message. The phone then gives you options, like number three is to listen to your message and re-record if you like. I had hit the time limit but was so proud of the arrogant lecture I’d delivered that I chose to listen to my masterpiece before sending it.

My ex’s voicemail allows an extra two minutes for a total of four minutes, so I had said a lot. (Surprisingly, when you aren’t blasting someone, that’s a lot of time to fill up.) As I listened to myself berate another human being for four minutes I was astonished by my arrogance, my pride, my utter lack of regard for the father of my children, my lack of respect for a human being–the list goes on. I was floored and humiliated. In case you’re wondering, I didn’t cuss him out or use vulgarity, that’s not really my thing. It was just the sheer arrogance of I know what’s right and wrong and I’m explaining all of this to YOU. I deleted it quickly. I live alone but I looked around anyway, hoping no one had heard that diatribe.

As a side note: My “right” and “wrong” definitions didn’t function around absolutes, like murder, which we all agree is wrong. It focused on such paramount things as soccer practice or homework or going out of town that weekend. Lots of important issues. It’s just a good thing I don’t run the world. Imagine my hissy fits with say, Russia.

Thankfully, I don’t remember what the argument that started the whole “let Cinthia tell you a thing or two” was about but the humiliation of that day stays with me. Now, when I am aggravated with my ex, and that still happens because we’re still family, I’ll call and leave a long voicemail, and then delete it. It gets the frustration out but doesn’t insult him. He noted one day that I am prone to call and not leave a voicemail. I smiled and said, “You’re welcome.”

That’s a step in the right direction, not leaving the voicemail, but my goal is greater. I don’t want to belittle another human being. I am reminded of how many times I did that during our marriage and how often I said, “You don’t talk to me.” Well, no, he was avoiding the inevitable arrogant lecture that may come his way if he shared anything. Having reached my 60th birthday recently, I’m old enough to realize that I wasn’t right, he wasn’t wrong, I wasn’t wrong, and he wasn’t right. We approached situations differently, that’s all.

I’m going to hammer the women here for a minute. We think we’re raising our husbands. We’re not. We’re their partners, not their mothers.

I see this in others, not just in myself. It is summarized in the whole, “Don’t ask me if you don’t want an honest answer,” crap. The only person that can give a completely honest answer to any one person is Christ because he is the only person that can see into our hearts, which is where honesty is found.

I’m so much more interested in hearing someone’s heart these days. It’s always surprising to me. EX: Dreading a difficult client all weekend long, only to get to her house and find her in tears. It’s a long story, but suffice it to say, I misread her completely and once I heard her story, wow. But how quickly did I want to give her an “honest answer.” Another humiliating moment that I hope guides me with others.

Here’s what my ex and I know about each other now. We were both wrong to not give each other the benefit of a doubt. We assumed the worst in each other and that brought out the worst in each other.

Here’s what we do now. We give each other the benefit of a doubt. Sure, we could have done that and possibly stayed married, but we didn’t. Live, learn and forgive yourself. And, enough of this possible arrogant lecture. 🙂