I am kind. Core deep and covered in blood, guts, layers of fat and tattooed skin, my kindness lay. It is nestled around the vertebrae of my spine, double helix within my DNA. My heart is an open and beating vessel whose first inclination leans toward kindness. However, I am learning as my years progress and my face settles into something less beautiful and more wise, that kindness is not the Gemini’s twin of being a doormat. However, it seems that some others maintain that illogical, algebraic formulation. Looks something like this:
kindness+ 2(purity) -inherent dickishness = doormat.
So, should behavior not fit into that known quantitative equation, the math suddenly doesn’t add up.
Anyone who knows me well, knows a few, simple hallmarks of me as a person. I am that person who will take your late night phone calls. Well past the point of my own exhaustion, just to make sure you are okay. I am the person who will send a random gift, have a texting marathon, email in between my clients, facebook chat, Skype into the we smalls until we have hammered out the details, set you right or at least made the dark a little less hopeless and a little more littered with stars. I mention this, not to herald myself or to ask that you send me “World’s greatest friend” mugs in bushel. I mention this simply to say, that of all the things I hate about myself, my ability to be a friend is not one.
It shocks me when I am blindsided by hostility. It shouldn’t, unfortunately as I wear the shiny scar tissue of the raped and the beaten.But still, even in the face of unspeakable violence and unspeakable violation, that kind heart of mine still expects kindness from everyone first. I give it first, I expect it first. Expectations are not for doormats. Doormats just lay quietly, expecting nothing and receiving less.
I expect. I suppose that, in and of itself rips my inherent kindness clean out of me as a fish on a hook. I suppose, that makes me an asshole.
So, recently, when I shared an opinion, privately with someone, closely related to a project they worked on for a very long time..when she told me she was okay with what I had told her in kindness; but more importantly in truth, I believed her. Because I err on the side of truth, always delivered in the kindest way I can muster. I expect that is what I would get in return. That’s not what I got. What I got was a message saying we were fine, then a very big, very public, very well publicized blog post regarding our private conversations and the resulting diatribe that I had somehow told her she was surviving wrong.
Words I had never thought and never said. However, I had clearly communicated in way that made her feel less than human. I was mortified. Not only that I had, even for a second, made her feel badly, but that she chose not to talk to me about it. Privately, just like I had spoken to her. I was absolutely defensive and upset and sickened. As anyone with kindness would be. Yet again, when I spoke with her privately about my feelings, I was disregarded. Immediately, her facebook lit up, calling to yet another audience to speak publicly about what I had brought to her with the absence of outside eyes. Then, she blocked me. Happy to deride my intentions and reactions (without naming me, but there was no mistaking that she was speaking of me) without the benefit of me being able to defend myself.
In essence, in saying this, I am airing my dirty laundry. Highlighting the inequity that kindness and truth telling affords you in a digital arena. But I am also just laying myself bare. I feel, I bleed, I hurt. My kindness, my friendship, my authenticity, is just that. Authentic. I do nothing as an affect. I say what I mean and it is my naive expectation that you are the same. That you are reaching your hand toward mine, not just your words on a screen to my words on a screen. Pixels aren’t assholes. Pixels aren’t best friends. People are.
I am a person and when you are cruel it pains me. I am a person and when you do not handle me with truth, wrapped in kindness, it batters me. Not in a delicious, ready-to-be-deep-fried kind of way, either. I expect kindness to my kindness, it would be life changing if you began to consider, delivering.