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Can We Do-Over Our Stupid Mistakes?

So much of my life has been fretting over stupid things I've said and done. We all say things occasionally we wish we could take back right afterwards -- if only life had an UNDO menu choice like Microsoft Word does.

But, lately, I've been fretting over things I DIDN'T say.

I was recently in Texas with a client at a dinner of eight people, when they started talking about football. One person commented, "Did you hear that Michael Sam, the defensive lineman from Missouri, said that he is gay?"

One of the guests, a Pastor said, "Well, some people make bad moral choices."

In the moment, several things went through my head to do and say, including throwing down my napkin in anger and saying, "I'll wait in the car, since I don't want to eat with homophobes!"

But it was very cold outside. The moment passed. And I said NOTHING.

The next day, I did my speech, politely smiled at the Pastor and went home -- but I couldn't let go of the situation and what I didn't say. My inaction turned to self-hatred; it's not too pleasant to think of yourself as a coward.

I needed a do-over.

That's when I realized that very often, we all have a chance to fix our mistakes and we don't need to get stuck in a negative story. And thinking about it more, I realized that speaking with hate isn't effective or healing. And so, I emailed him, telling him about my dilemma, and how I wondered if he had people in his congregation who were gay, or who had gay children. I offered to talk about the topic with him, so that he could better serve his congregation.

Whether or not he takes me up on my offer is a moot point. What I realized is that there is usually an opportunity for a do-over for our behavior. Sometimes a simple action, an apology, or a conversation can rid us of embarrassment, or worse, a feeling of self-hatred.

I would love to know, what stupid things have you done -- and were you able to do a do-over?

12 comments:

sybil said...

What a great choice you made. I hope you get to have a conversation with him.

Having someone call to ask if something they said offended me makes me feel so cared for. The most offensive people NEVER do that.

Theresa Behenna said...

Well done Judy! Too many people are living lives of coulda shoulda....they're usually the ones blaming everyone else for their unhappiness.

SO not you! (nor me - yay for us!)
Theresa Behenna
Motivational Speaker
Piano Entertainer
Tennis Nut

Anonymous said...

Probably a closet pillow biter.

Someone who appreciates your blogs said...

Yes. You made some good points. And sometimes, it is not a bad thing to keep silent, especially when you feel angry and cannot say something productive. Sometimes you need to think about your response so it's not necessarily a do-over because you didn't do anything wrong. In this situation, it's more a thoughtful response to an offensive remark. A do-over would be if you had said something just as offensive because you were angry. I think you handled this really well.

Angela Eren said...

I love the article and the comments. While I agree that you did not do anything wrong by saying nothing, I have often gone home, lost sleep over, and ended up hating myself for not being "more present, more in integrity and more in the moment" blah blah blah...
I do "do-overs" all the time with the people that matter most in my life: my children. I often will lose my patience, raise my voice and then go back later and apologize saying to them that I over-reacted. They are SOOOO great, most times they have already forgotten about it, but it gives me permission to sleep easier!

Thanks Judy, as always your honesty and humor are appreciated!

Barbara Miller said...

Yes I have. I rejected the proposal of a high school sweetheart in 1967 only to wander in the desert for about the next 40 years. (It really was a desert!) In 2005 we reunited and married in 2006. Coulda, shouda, wish I woulda!

Jonathan Gibson said...

Judy, this is excellent, although all your pieces are.

For gays and lesbians, this is a seemingly never-ending scenario, having to decide to be out or not when it's assumed we are straight.

We are often asking ourselves, If I stay silent, is my silence fear, shame, etc.? Or am I just tired and avoiding extra drama?

Or is coming out even necessary, as straight people don't have to come out constantly (although, interestingly, that's changing, which is a fun twist of fate!)? Is coming out always a political statement on some level? Is coming out sometimes an aggressive act?

I mean, that's a lot of weight to carry and sometimes being GLBTQ is a job unto itself! One with many rewards, like all challenges, but still, it keeps a girl on her toes!

I've forgiven myself for past (and future) awkward or frustrating or guilt-inducing coming out moments by remembering that it's not my fault that I've been born into a world that makes such a fundamental element of my being, my sexuality, a complicated, sometimes dangerous, sometimes dicey, sometimes overwhelming issue socially. With all that baggage, I think GLBQTs can, and should, be given a break for not always being perfect coming out martyrs!

And, thanks to your entry, there's remembering that just because a moment has passed doesn't mean there isn't a future moment to confront that same issue. And maybe the future moment will be even richer or more resonant.

Either way, your entry reminds me, most of all, that we're all just human beings trying to get through this curious muddle called life...and that forgiveness for being seemingly "imperfect" (human) is paramount.

Karla Nelson said...

Barbara, that's such an amazing story :) I'm so glad you found each other!

Business Presentations said...

Judy, you didn't do a stupid thing; you did a smart thing. You zipped your lip and allowed time for you to think of your response instead of responding with emotion.
They were talking about a celebrity, not your friend. Had you responded at dinner there could have been a debate or even an argument making the atmosphere even more negative. You would have made the pastor WRONG and he would need to defend his position in front of the group. By emailing him privately, you were respectful and maintained your integrity. We should all be so stupid.

Cheri Gregory said...

I love how you spelled out your process of feeling disappointed with yourself, reflecting on your options, and realizing it wasn't over until you said it was over.

I've told myself -- and believed myself! -- that "It's too late now" far too many times. And I'm learning that adding a P.S. or even an entirely new chapter is up to me.

P.L. Frederick said...

Well. "Speaking with hate isn't effective or healing." I always learn something from you, Miss Judy. I can't communicate how much I enjoy your writing/emails. Such positive, clear teachings on every subject, written from an open heart-mind. Hope to catch one your class in the Boston area some day!

P.L. Frederick twitter/plfrederick)

Kate Lyn Reiter said...

I am always touched by your honesty, courage and humility. I learn so much by your example. Thanks for this discussion. The 2 biggest fears for me in being "out" is not wanting to be labeled exclusively by this one part of my life, and as a "people-pleaser" i frankly resist the disapproval (and sometimes hate). I decided when I survived breast cancer at 41 that I wasn't going to spend my second chance at life hiding but the specifics of each interaction are never simple. Taking the time to think this over was the best choice. You are an amazing person! Thanks, Judy.