It’s happened a couple of times lately. A friend, a fellow mom, has told me of a choice she’s made, and I’ve responded with silence.
And I know just how she must feel in that moment. Because if I told you about my decision to vaccinate or not, my decision to work or not (or where to work), and met with silence, I’d assume the worst. I’d assume you were judging me — that you were absolutely convinced of the wrongness of my choice, and were biting your tongue.
But it’s not that. So, in case one of those friends did feel that way, and in case they’re reading this, let me say how it really was.*
First, I was afraid that anything I might say might sound judgy despite my intentions. Even “You have to do what’s best for your family” can come out all wrong. Um, see footnote.
Second, these amazing, wonderful, intelligent, powerful women are my friends because I‘m in awe of them respect them. There aren’t many convictions that go bone-deep for me. I’ve chosen Option A, but if you go with B, I’m gonna rethink my decision. I might not change my mind, but I definitely will wonder (in silence): she’s smart, did she think of something I missed?
Finally, shamefully, I am protecting my own sorry self. I am a big, big chicken, terrified of confrontations, unable to keep the defensiveness from creeping into even the mock debates the Jellyman so enjoys.** Nod and smile, don’t disagree — this is how I get along in the world. I know it costs me some valuable insight from intelligent friends, but I value the emotional connection of those relationships far too much to risk it for intellectual curiosity. Unwise, maybe, but who I am.
So, friends, what say you? Will you accept my promise not to judge you, and just let me listen in on your brilliant reasoning? Or are you actually going to make me TALK!?
*Action item: I will learn to say things OUT LOUD with some of the clarity that seems to come when I’m writing. You know, someday.
**Newly married, we had what to him was a discussion about the merits of gift card expiration dates. In my world, it was proof that he had no respect for my opinions. Potato, Potahto.***
***He was right. About the nature of the conversation, not about the gift cards. I still think he was wrong about that.