I did say something like that – it is true. It is kind of a funny story, the reason why those words came out of my mouth. It was when David and I had moved across country. We had to live with his mom and stepfather for several months. They were challenging months. One indecent that still sticks out is the day David and I were requested to have a meeting with his stepfather and mom. It was something that I will never forget because it confused me tremendously. Many social situations happened while living there and in that town that awakened me to such utter confusion that I was in a constant state of anxiety.
I had never been around such social dynamics and I was traumatized.
On a daily basis, I was confused, hurt, angry, sick, and my head was reeling nonstop trying to make sense of my surroundings. I had no family or friends and only David to rely upon. At least, I understood somewhat the traumas that I felt with my family. They were familiar and I had learned how to protect myself, maybe not in the healthiest of ways, but I could protect myself nonetheless. However, when this situation took place we had only been there a few weeks so I had not spiraled into fear, confusion, and severe anxiety yet.
Back to the story, I will try to stay focused.
There had been several days of tension in the air. I was clueless as to what was going on, but I felt it. It was causing my head to feel dizzy. I did notice that tones, body language, and words seemed different, but I had no idea why. I asked David about it and he did not pay that much attention to it. His stepfather had been in his life for around 23 years. This man violated David and his brother’s space, time, and anything else in their lives that he could. So David was in his own protection mode and knew how to ignore the man, or finds ways to make himself feel better.
The minute I met the man I did not feel comfortable around him.
The only way I could describe at the time was he seemed very negative and grumpy. When he walked into the room, it seemed to zap out all the life in each person. Nothing made him happy, but me being the hopeful naive person I am, I thought we just needed to try harder. I thought maybe David was too negative and possibly God was trying to show us how to be more compassionate. Well, there are times when I just lose all compassion toward a person, especially when I have tried very hard and they accuse me of being disrespectful.
Keep in mind that David and I were in our early thirties when this took place. We were finally able to set a time to meet. It was in the evening, we sat in the living room. I did not know what to expect. I felt like a teenager who was about to be grounded or something, but I had no idea what I had done wrong. I had gone over everything in my head trying to figure out what this was all about. Then conversation started with the stepfather voicing his frustrations at us and feeling as though we were disrespecting him.
I was confused.
Now they told us that we were welcome into their home to stay as long as we needed. As far as I knew, it was rent-free until we were able to get our own place. David and I were still unable to find work, we had only been there a few weeks, and in the midst of that, we had gotten married.
I did not understand what this man was talking about.
Much of it is a blur to me now because I became so angry and confused that the words were jumbled. It came down to this, the stepfather said; he was upset because we did not say, “Good morning” to him every morning. WHAT??? I sat there staring at him in disbelief. He proceeded to share every bit of grievance he had about us not acknowledging him if he came into the room, and being disrespectful by coming and going when we pleased.
David was angry.
I was stumped. He continued with his banter about not saying good morning and I told him, “I was not raised that way.” He shook his head at me and said, “I do not believe you Angel, I saw you with your family when they were here.”These words shot out of my mouth, “That was my dad and step mom! I did not grow up with them. Besides it has taken years for me to even be like that with them.”
I went into HOW I was raised.
I grew up with my mom and in that house you did (do) not talk until after she has her morning tea. There was never a good morning. I was not allowed to say that or ask questions, or request breakfast until my mom had her first cup of tea and cigarette. (I was making my own breakfast by around age 6 or 7, probably earlier but I cannot remember clearly.) What he saw with my dad was years of weekend visits. In my home, you were lucky to get a grunt if you walked into the room. I was constantly told to be quiet, settle down, and stop asking questions. I was told things such as, “I don’t know, I am tired, stop asking me questions, leave mommy alone.” I was not allowed to speak to my mom when she came home from work. I had to give her at least 10 minutes before I bothered her with anything.
She requires uninterrupted time alone to wake up in the morning to adjust to her day. If her routine is interrupted, her entire day is ruined. When she gets home from anywhere, she needs time to adjust. She has to change her clothes; many times, she needs some food, and then, her tea. After that, she is able to function socially. Also in my house, “please and thank you” were not that big of a deal. Other things took precedence.
It wasn’t that I was raised to be rude, but we did not spend our time saying such things.
It was that those words had real meaning to them; they were earned so to speak. My mom did not force me to say them. We said them to each other when we meant them or thought of it. I do think that both of us would have benefited if we had said those types of things to each other more often. We had too many other things on our mind than to think about things like that. It is a little difficult for me to explain.
That is how I was raised.
Not to mention by the time the “stepfather” incident happened, I had been living on my own since I was 18 years-old for the most part. (I had to move back home a few times, but about 6 months was the longest stretch.) I had my own routines. I had lived alone for most of that time, but when I met David, I had been alone for something like a year and half I believe. I could not believe the behavior of a grown man getting upset at such foolishness. However, when I thought about this situation I recalled how many other people have gotten offended at me for not saying good morning.
They have gotten offended at me not addressing their presence.
If I am busily working, I may look up at you, but it is as my mouth is sealed shut. I have no words. My mind is too busy processing other things. If it is first thing in the morning, it is raging with all sorts of thoughts from trying to discern the dream I had to wondering if I can recall some famous event that happened on that day years ago. It could be anything. I could be wondering if squirrels are fidgety or just anxious. I could try to figure out a more efficient way to clean the litter box.
Anything and multiple things are soaring through my brain.
AND let us go ahead and add how I could be freaking out on the inside because I smell someone’s cologne or food on the other side of the room! I could be so focused on not yelling, “What is that god awful smell?” that I just cannot stop all that I am doing and say something to you first. I can usually say it back if someone says it first, I most likely will not say good morning though.
I WILL NOT say that if it is not a “good” morning.
I will say, hi, morning, or give a head nod. I do not get offended if someone does not say it to me. At some point, in the day they will speak to me I am fine with that. Of course, my way of thinking does not work for passive-aggressive types. Their tactics of silent treatment do not work on me. I only assume that they do not feel like talking because when I do not feel like talking I do not talk.
I am not giving the silent treatment.
The point of my story is that I was perceived as rude and disrespectful and I had no idea that the person felt that way. The way that I was raised, it was rude and disrespectful if I did talk before someone else spoke to me. I could not understand his anger or hurt by the situation. All though, the man had other serious issues. He even went after David after he had excused me because of my up-bringing.
He told him, “You know better.”
As if, David was supposed to have made me aware, or something. Um, we were in our thirties! David had been in graduate school for seven years prior, I had been in the workforce since I was 16 years-old, both of us had been married and divorced, AND we lived on our own for years. None of that mattered because he could only see from his perspective, which was distorted by offense. Truth be told, I was offend too because of his offense. People seem to forget about where others are coming from when they are clouded by offense, myself included. I was not raised that way, I was deeply offended at what I felt was childish and ridiculous, but I also tried my best to do small things to help this man feel respected.
He did let us stay in his home, even if David’s mom may have been the driving force behind that.
I still felt that he should be respected and that I would try. I do not think it much mattered though, he is just one of those people that no matter how much you try it is never enough. I will say, it was awkward and a challenge for me to remember to say “good morning.” It still is, it is a challenge for me to remember to say say thank you or other ”polite” things. Not because I do not feel them, quite honestly, the words seem to have lost their weight to me. Any person can say words flippantly and without true purpose – I like to show my appreciation through actions.
It feels more comfortable to me to do something in return for someone than, to only say words. (AND I will not say them unless I mean them.)