Feeling Today’s Right Yesterday’s Wrong

I often feel today’s right yesterday’s wrong. I don’t know why. It’s strange that it is rarely the other way around, although let’s be fair each has equal claim to be correct. Well, how about I grow wiser as time passes by, which obviously benefits today more than yesterday? That’s possible only to a certain degree. It’s also possible that we don’t grow wiser as much as we think we do, but rather we become different under different circumstances. That’s why when we look at yesterday from today’s perspective, we feel that yesterday is so wrong. It is so wrong that I don’t even feel yesterday’s me is really me; it could have been somebody else entirely.

Don’t you just hate hindsight? If hindsight is 20/20, it is an arrogant 20/20 that brings no solace, only regret. Last night, having another episode of insomnia, I somehow recalled several incidents when one of my friends talked with me about one thing that bothered them–boyfriend trouble, husband behaviors, varied things that are unfair, missed chances etc.–and I often failed to respond in a way that is satisfactory and often ended up creating distance.

Why is that? I am very sympathetic and empathetic. Is it because I don’t know how to express myself conversationally? It is true that I prefer writing to speaking, but not to the degree of not being able to express myself orally. Why can’t I in that crucial moment of friendship behave in a way that I am proud of?

I think and think, and come up with an explanation. It is because I had complained to my friends about my mother–at least three or four of them in separate occasions–before but didn’t receive sympathetic response. My mother died years ago. Otherwise I won’t write about her like this. I think when I complained to one of my friends, I received the response that her mother is worse than my mother, and we ended up in a competition of who has the worse mom. This competition was so pointless that I am ashamed to bring it up now. When I complained to another one, I got the response that I could not understand my mother. So basically I was blamed to be too insensitive or too ignorant to understand others. Yet another day and another complaint to another friend, I received the response that one doesn’t have to love one’s mother and I shouldn’t feel guilty about it. I didn’t even know I feel guilty about it until she pointed it out.

I think and think again about this, and here is my conclusion–I really should not accuse my friends of not understanding me. It is me who didn’t have the skill to make this communication work. This communication is very important to me. A friendship without self exposure is like a life without self examination. In order to make this communication work, I need to try different ways, for example hint and allusion. If I suddenly come up too strongly, people would feel uncomfortable. Another way is to talk about this repeatedly and from different angles to convince my friends what I’ve said have valid points. It’s not a woman’s idle complaint or a selfish grievance. I obviously didn’t practice this. I bought the topic up once enthusiastically. When feeling not being understood, I gave up on the topic entirely.

When will I ever master the art of conversation?

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