Friday, August 8, 2014

And bad mistakes, I've made a few...

My laptop! He is all better! Pro tip: Never leave your earbuds on your keyboard. Just sayin’.

Now for why I decided to update today. I hope you'll forgive me, because I can already tell this is going to be longwinded and probably boring. And will have little to do with writing or my characters because, well, I have no excuse. Sorry!

So, the camping trip was pretty much awesome. It started out VERY rocky, with a three-hour late start and then a search for a campsite because our favorites were either full or closed, but in the end, we found one! Of course, it took us over five hours in the car to find a beautiful campsite only an hour and a half from where we live, but, uh, there were Firefly quotes and good music, so that’s not so bad, right?

When it was all said and done, we had an amazing time. My kids cracked me up, my sister and I got to chat and just hang out, which is rare for us since we’re almost always running in the opposite direction. Most importantly, I got to really connect with my kids. We talked about everything and nothing. We laughed, we teased each other, we ate junk food, and we did it all without wondering what was going on away from our little campfire.

The older they get, the more important those kinds of days become. When they were little, it was easy to hold their attention and easy to get them to talk to me. Now, though, I have to compete with their friends, their dramas, their TV shows, their online life, their… worlds. And I know that’s how it’s supposed to be, but, damn it, I still want in there somewhere. Thankfully, when I try to collect them to me and hold on for a few days, they let me.

 My oldest daughter opened up to me about some online stuff she’s been dealing with. Nothing too bad and nothing directed at her, but it’s coming to a boiling point for her and her friends. We had a long talk about it and I gave her my advice on the topic. I basically told her to stay as far away from drama—online or off—as possible. I chose to share with her one of my worst moments, one that I’m not proud of and one that still makes me burn with regret and shame when I think about it. It was an online altercation, one that I started, one that degraded quickly into bullying and people—good people, friends of mine and friends of the other person’s—saying some truly awful things. Online. Where it sits forever. Where it can’t be taken back.

 I won’t go into it all here because, like I said, I’m still ashamed by own behavior, but I did tell her the whole story, a good bit of it through tears. I explained to her that when you hurt someone, even years later, the regret doesn’t go away. And, when it’s a stranger online, it’s almost worse than someone you know in real life because you sometimes can’t go back and apologize. I’ve thought about it, thought about looking the person up and trying to figure out how to get ahold of them now, but… Well, honestly, at this point I’d be afraid of opening up a painful memory for someone that they’d probably (hopefully) moved on from, all so I could what? Assuage my own guilt? My daughter and I are similar creatures. I know her quick, hot temper because it’s mine. I also know her kind heart and her goodness and her gentle soul, and I know that if she makes the same mistake I made, it will bother her for years to come. Just like me. For better or worse.

 I don’t know how that’s going to play out for her. I could’ve shared plenty of stories about how I was hurt by something someone said, times when I got the verbal thrashing that left me bawling. Maybe I should have. But I hope sharing my really awful experience—where I was the one on the very WRONG side—maybe it will mean more to her and maybe it will stick in her memory the next time she feels like saying something really ugly to someone else, something that may wound them deeply.

That was one of the most important conversations I’ve had with one of my kids in a long time. I sometimes feel like we share a lot of the awful things that have happened to us (not that I’m knocking that—I think that’s really important too) but we—or at least I—rarely talk about the seriously big mistakes I’ve made. It’s uncomfortable to tell anyone that I’ve done stuff I’m ashamed to admit. Hell, if I were comfortable talking about it, uh, I wouldn’t really be ashamed, right? But maybe it’s important to get that stuff out too. Maybe it’s important to own that you screwed up, own that you did something you wish you hadn’t, something that gnaws at you for years. In the end, we’re all flawed, we’re all… human.

Maybe that’s why I’m posting about it publically? Maybe I’m hoping that it will help someone. If you were the one who was picked on or made to feel bad by someone, you’ll know that maybe that person still feels bad about it. If you were the one who made the really bad choice and said the really hurtful things, well, you’re not alone. I’ve been on both sides of it and both sides suck and the only way to make it better is to just avoid it in the future. Were you a total asshole to someone? Apologize if you can, but if not, hey, try not to do that again. Did someone treat you like shit for really NO good reason? I’m really sorry that happened to you. I’ve done that to a couple people and I still feel bad for it.

Then, of course, there’s that third group of people who maybe just *are* assholes in general. The rest of us will be over here, eyeing them warily. >_>

Anyway, thanks for letting me ramble at you. I hope everyone out there is having a good day and that you're surrounded by people who make your day better. 

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