My cell phone rings—it’s Maggie. I hesitate, and then hit, “Ignore.”
I feel nasty, but I just don’t want to deal with a lecture on my allergies or diet right now. What makes some people so certain in their knowledge and beliefs? Why does every conversation have to be a sermon or lecture?
Me? I’ve seen shades of gray all my life. Annoyed as I get with my friend, I often listen, not getting a word in edgewise, because I know her heart’s in the right place. I know she loves me, cares for me, and wants me to be the best me I can be. But, Oy!
The reality is, I am overweight. I don’t exercise often enough and I could certainly make better food choices. Sometimes though, I just don’t care.
I’m not a vegetarian, raw foodie, vegan. I love eating in restaurants. I don’t care if dairy and cheese are “bad” for me; I love the variety of tastes and textures available. The ability to pay for my meal, any cuisine I care to try, on a whim, is one luxury I revel in.
In fact, I’m sitting in my favorite family-owned Italian joint as I write these words. I feel cradled inside a deep red, faux-leather booth. But today, instead of my usual salad and pizza, I’ve tried the Stracciatella soup & salad,
Yummy! The stracciatella is a fragrant, steaming bowl of chicken broth, swimming with egg and spinach, and it looks like Italian Egg Drop Soup. It’s deliciously light and creamy. I think I have a new favorite dish. (And this from the Pasta Queen!)
Maybe I can make good food choices on my own. And maybe, someday, I’ll trust my own choices. Maybe some day, I’ll be assertive enough, confident enough, and honest enough to let Maggie know that I can make my own choices.
Does everything boil down to trust?
Can I trust my friendship with Maggie enough to disagree with her? Enough to tell her, lovingly, diplomatically, firmly to SHUSH? Is there room for graceful disagreement in our friendship? My greatest fear, the fear that keeps me quiet, is that the answer is no.
Confrontation and disagreement have never been my strong suit, not from my earliest interactions with Mom. And that maternal dynamic haunts my relationships with my (several) strong-willed, opinionated, big-hearted, domineering women friends.
I am so used to swallowing my disagreement and avoiding conflict that I’m not even certain of what I think some (most?) days. My mind becomes a blank. I feel as though I’ve been caught violating curfew or shoplifting.
Where do my friends find the courage to voice their opinions so strongly? Or doth they protest too much? Does the volume and strength of their rhetoric hide the play of their own childhood dynamics? Were they never heard, never listened to, never acknowledged? Did they have to be perfect, were they pressured to know the right answer to every question? Were they devalued and dismissed so often they rose up in fierce revolt?
In my mother’s case, I KNOW she was berated, subtly and overtly. I know that as a girl/woman in a deeply ethnic and misogynist Polish family in the 1950’s, my street-smart, passionate mother never had a chance to be anything but the black sheep in that flock.
An old saying goes that a woman marries her father. Maybe I have simply made friends with my mother over and over again.
Maybe someday, I’ll find the self-confidence to tell them all to (lovingly, diplomatically, firmly) just, “SHUSH.”