There is a hole in my front bumper. Funny thing…it also feels there is a hole in my heart. Guess you could say “Today has not been a good day.”
When I stop to think about it, all the damage was caused by expectations.
And quite frankly, I believe expectations are of the devil.
When I pulled into the crowded parking lot at the convenience store today, I did so making the assumption my car would be safe. I intended to dash in, purchase a bottled water and head back to work. Having stopped at one of the busiest stores in the area, I should have given thought to where I parked my car but didn’t. Several vehicles were lined up, single file, along the side of the building. I pulled behind the last in line. Being sure to leave plenty of space for the truck in front of me to exit, I had no worries.
As I stood in line to make my purchase, I happened to look out and see a guy staring at my car. Actually, he was intently staring at my bumper. That’s when the feeling of dread came over me and I’m pretty sure I muttered “Crap!”… right after “You’ve gotta be kidding me!”
Without thinking, I walked out the door, unpaid water in hand, to confirm what I already knew. A trailer hitch not belonging to me had made a connection with the bumper that does belong to me. The union wasn’t a pleasant one. The hitch left a gaping hole. Of course, the bumper on my little VW was no match for the power behind the hitch of a big ol’ F-250. An injury to my car was inevitable.
Annoyed. That would accurately describe what I felt. The truck owner appeared to be frazzled and didn’t know what to say. Silence doesn’t work for me so I spoke. One of us had to. It might as well have been me. Trying to hide my frustration, I asked a question with an oh-so-obvious answer. “Did you not see my car?”
Of course, he didn’t see it. Like I said…oh-so-obvious…
However, my unnecessary question served a purpose. The ice was broken and he began to apologize. That was all it took to diffuse my irritated state. Accidents, by definition, are not purposeful. How could I be upset with someone when no harm was intended? We chatted while exchanging information and all was as good as could be given the situation.
As I returned to work, my thoughts drifted to an encounter I had with a friend earlier. For whatever reason, I drew a parallel between my busted bumper and my hurting heart. (I’m a bit weird that way.) Just like I had assumed my car would be safe as I went about my business, I had initiated a conversation with my friend thinking all was equally well. A simple misunderstanding and assumptions on my part led to both of us feeling defensive and our emotional bumpers were busted. When things aren’t right with the ones I hold dear, my heart aches and my day feels heavy. Little did I know my afternoon would find me in search of a bumper doctor for my car and doing what I could to administer first aid to a wounded spirit.
When it comes to relationships, we all have expectations. Try as we might to avoid them, they are there. We have a preconceived notion of what we want the other person to do…how we want them to react…what we want them to say. Without thinking, we surmise our assumptions will be our reality when most often that is not the case. This is how feelings get hurt and hearts get broken.
Being fully aware that assumptions only lead to disappointment, I do my very best to either own them or rid myself of them. Long ago, painful lessons taught me I cannot control the behavior of another human being. That what I think should happen might not align with what the other person believes should occur. I also learned I have little authority over my feelings. My true responsibility lies in my response. Joy, hurt, excitement, surprise, frustration… good or bad… apologies should not be made for feelings. They are what they are. However, misguided reactions to hurt feelings can serve as fuel to a fire that destroys relationships. On the other hand, controlled responses can foster a sense of fairness and caring which strengthens the bond between two people.
Too many times I have been guilty of letting my emotions get the best of me. I react in the moment to unmet expectations. Of course this isn’t fair. My pain inflicts more pain which is never a good thing. Having witnessed the carnage that results from emotionally charged conversations, I do my best to speak only once my emotions are in check but I still can fail miserably. Communication is essential to any relationship. Without it, little hurts become big problems. The tiniest of things can fester and grow until they are out of control. Working through any issue…big or small…in a timely manner is vital. But doing it the right way is even more critical.
This situation I encountered earlier today will resolve itself. We have been friends long enough for me to know we will be all the stronger for our “moment”. The F-250 driver stifled my aggravation with an apology. A simple “I’m sorry” works wonders. My friend and I will make our apologies too. We will talk it out. We will listen to one another. We will make peace. All because we want the other to be okay and the friendship to survive. All because we know that broken hearts…unlike broken bumpers…can be hard to mend. And all because… that’s just what friends do.
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