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How to Handle Those Who Mishandled You.

"You're kidding me, right?" I half-exhaled, half-chuckled. He looked at me in all seriousness.

If there's one thing I have absolutely no tolerance for, it is egomaniacs with narrow-minded, self-over-servitude, never-in-the-wrong complexes. His response was this:

"AK, you need to apologize for assuming something about me and judging me before you had any proof to do so."

If I was a tea kettle, I was hissing at an ear-drum rupturing decibel right now. The room was spinning, and all I could focus on was the stupid smirk that stretched across the lower half of his face. That smirk turned the heat on HIGH on my "stove of temperament." Forget hissing. The tea kettle was spitting now.

I spat out my next sentence choppily with confusion and frustration.

"Shouldn't YOU be apologizing to ME?!"

Sometimes, I wish that the church didn't have those "Prayer Request" cards in the pews. I wish there were "Apology Request" cards. Now that would be brilliant.

No matter how many times I repeated why I was upset, this guy was selective with his hearing. It didn't matter to him that he had hurt me. All that mattered was that I was wrong.

I remember laughing at the paradox he was suggesting: the one who is wrong is the one who was wronged. Did he hear it? Did he even understand? No. He didn't. The scary thing is, I almost believed him.

Sometimes, I wish that the church didn't have those "Prayer Request" cards in the pews. I wish there were "Apology Request" cards. Now that would be brilliant.

Here's how I handled him. It wasn't an immediate feeling of justice, but within 30 minutes I felt a lot better. Here is the easy, step-by-step on handling someone who mishandled you:

1. Be completely vulnerable.

I know how it sounds. But coming from someone who felt the strings of anxiety pulled thin in this situation, you can trust what I have to say. When you give someone the power to deny, affirm, or invalidate your feelings, it hurts. Yet it doesn't hurt as much as your anxiety tells you it will. If you don't tell them exactly how you're feeling, you'll think that if you had just worded things differently, they would have understood. Don't you dare believe this. It's not true. People don't respond well to manipulation. I mean, do you? If you're anything like me, manipulation makes your blood boil at a fever pitch. The reality is this: if you had just been completely honest with them about how it made you feel, maybe they would have understood. Remember that "maybe." It will be very important later on.

2. Don't Object.

The mistake I made was verbalizing my objection to his response. When I told him how he made me feel, he told me I was ignorant, judgmental, and assuming. That's not what I wanted to hear after being vulnerable. People like you and I hate subjecting ourselves to anxiety. We should receive a reward after going through the pains of that! Not a retort-turned-into-a-labeling-ceremony. And since I always think from every perspective, I dared to think from his. He almost had me convinced that he was right.

3. Affirm Yourself Before Speaking.

The meaning of whatever it is that they said or did is not up to them. The fact is the meaning of their words is up to you. If they worded or did something in vain, it is going to be interpreted as ignorant and narrow-minded. I reminded myself that objecting to his response could be interpreted as invalidating his response. My anxiety clouded my judgment, involuntarily issuing me to conduct an eye-for-an-eye. In other words, an invalidation-for-an-invalidation. This is not what I meant to mean, and by way of his Apology Request, I could prove that.

What it means is up to us. It is up to you and me. At first, his demand felt like a dismissal and denial of my vulnerability. After I took a second to breathe, I allowed it to mean something completely different: the opportunity to offer him what he could not offer me. That being, Validation Through Acknowledgement Through Apology.

4. Agree to Disagree (Silently!)

No one likes to be told they are wrong. Trust me when I say this: it is VERY rare that someone will admit they are wrong, even when they know it. So offer them what it is they want, because believe me- it's ultimately what you want too. I apologized to him for being ignorant, sincerely. Even though I knew deep down that he had twisted my words against me to make them seem ignorant, I apologized.

The Resolution:

He accepted my apology with a frustrating smirk of satisfaction. I could feel myself boiling again, but I didn't let it show. In refusing my impulsiveness I simmered down and realized that at the end of the day, I wasn't the ignorant one. I wasn't the one invalidating another person's feelings. Instead, I validated them. I thought it wouldn't be rewarding at all, but in the end it was. I knew I wasn't what he said.

But sometimes knowing something isn't enough.

Knowing isn't enough, and it rarely fills an appetite for reward. The reward wasn't the initial reward I wanted: understanding, kindness, or remorse from him. The reward was the proof that I had done the right, kind, compassionate, and open-minded thing to do. I proved myself to myself. I gave myself the peace of mind that I ORIGINALLY believed could only come from the one who took it away. That, in and of itself, is a reward to the anxious-minded. It's how you handle someone who mishandled you.

All the peace,


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