Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thin Skinned

Last week someone said something to me that stung. It was completely unexpected which I think made it hurt more. I think people have the impression of me that I am strong which I guess I am, at times. I can roll with the punches. I have been well trained to take the sarcastic and hidden verbal attacks and let them roll off my back like water off a duck's back. But somedays, I am thin skinned. I am vulnerable. I have grown up enough to know there is a time and place for emotions, so no one saw the tears I shed on the way home that evening but they were shed. I cried which does not happen often. I was so hurt.

And then I was angry and indignant. When telling my story to my husband, I said things like, "Who does she think she is?" "What a *&)#^" I said mean and hateful things. I was ready to cut ties and never interact with this person again. "I don't need this."

And then when I was calmer, I wanted to check in with our mutual acquaintances and get them on my side. I wanted to tell them what happened. I wanted them to boost my ego and assuage the insecurity I felt. I wanted to build up Team Jen.

But then I stopped and tried to think and act like a grown up. Yes, my feelings were hurt by a mean comment. And while I still believe that what she said was completely out of line, I also recognized that it seemed out of character. Though I do not know because I am slowly getting to know this person. But I do think I know her well enough that even if what she was saying in a joking manner was true, that I was becoming a pain in her *&^, I doubt she really wanted to say it out loud. She is normally more controlled than that. And so when I let my grown up self, instead of the 9 year old girl in me that was seriously wounded, I realized that I needed to allow her the grace I would hope others would grant me when I stick my foot in my mouth, which is often. I did not need to align a Team Jen, because we are part of a bigger team working together for a larger, well deserving group.

Sure I could call or email and discuss the situation, but honestly that is not offering grace as much as seeking restitution. Grace requires me to let it go, without any requests or amendments. It requires that I see the other person as valuable, facing her own challenges and maybe I did push her last button that day. We all have those days. I had at least two last week when I was horrified by my behavior.

While I was determined to be a grown up and let the whole thing go, it still does sit in the back of my mind at times. When I knew I might see her the other day, I was a bit anxious and a little sad. When I did see her I was able to be genuinely friendly. There was no big showdown. No great intervention or discussion. Just two grown ups, being grown ups, and moving on.

I just hope I don't end up walking around armored for my protection at every future interaction. I don't want to be that way. I don't want to live life trying to protect myself because in doing so I end up not being fully engaged. I end up wanting to go hide in my cave.


  1. I can so relate to this. I too am thinned skinned...maybe more often than you, in fact. Getting my feelings hurt is a common experience for me. I loved your insight about real grace and "being grown up". ...really good stuff! I have found that in those situations, faithfully and consistently (dogedly) praying genuine blessing into that person's life helps to strangle out the anger and resentment. Never easy... but good to read about your victory and freedom coming to your heart and life!

  2. Stephanie - I was praying through this experience which is probably why I was able to be a grown up but my prayers were focused on me. I should probably also pray for those around me that hurt me. Since my usual inclination is cut and run praying for God to bless them would force me stay connected but in a way that feels emotionally safer.