“She is our guest. You must be nice. You owe her an apology.”
I sat there dumbfounded. Hearing this from my parents, well, it was a shock. The “she” in question was my brother’s girlfriend. The situation? She wanted us all to go swimming with her. “Meet us at Scharnberg park,” she said. Scharnberg was a local swimming hole – a small pond that was great to swim in – and near where I grew up.
My youngest brother who was maybe 12 or 13 at the time went with G and me to the park. It was one of those horrifically hot summer days in the midwest where a swim was going to help.
We all swam for two hours. No sign of my brother or his girlfriend. By this point, it was after dark; and we were done. So, we climbed into the car and drove home.
We passed them on their way out.
When we got home, they were behind us. My brother came out of the car raving mad. “You were supposed to meet us! Do you know how much you hurt my girlfriend’s feelings?” He demanded of us.
I was pissed. My youngest brother felt bad and didn’t know what to say. G felt it was a family matter, so stayed with my youngest brother. I let loose.
I pointed out how we were supposed to meet TWO hours ago. And that the time was set by THEM. I ranted about how rude it is to set a date and time, then not show up for TWO hours. I further explained that it was beyond fucked up that she would send him to confront us when the issue was with them. Then we all went inside.
Later, after he came home from taking her home, he got pissed at me again. “She cried at how cruel you were,” he told me in front of our parents. I explained to them that she wanted to hang out with us at the pond, yet showed up over 2 hours late — fuck that shit, she didn’t get what she wanted because SHE fucked up.
My parents turned on me.
“She is a guest in our house. How dare you talk to her like that?! Nothing matters but your lack of manners. You owe your brother an apology.”
Yes, I was forced to apologize to my brother and his girlfriend for not waiting more than two hours for them to show up to a planned date the started two hours before.
At 43 years old, I am realizing how much “be nice” had fucked with me.
My sister-in-law recently took offense to a Facebook post I made. She went as far as unfriending me. It was stupid. Everyone in the family agreed it was stupid. Yet, I heard “be nice – talk to her and make it right.”
Let’s not talk about the fact I had no idea she unfriended me until someone else in the family told me. And I also found out that she had told them all why she had done it. They felt her reasons were silly and petty, yet I’m expected to “be nice.”
In my professional career, I am spending a lot of time “being nice”. Trying to rock the boat in the right way – not the “girl-filled, drama way” that people in the male dominated profession expect. Yet at my last job, I was told I needed to “be nice” if I wanted people to listen. My boss thought it was fucked up, but the fact it was said without public dispute – well, just reminded me that is what is expected.
“But you’ll catch more flies with honey.”
“Kill them with kindness – make that your revenge.”
Those were always the words told to me when people treated me poorly. And I noticed and called them out in a not-so-acceptable-for-a-woman way.
I’m sick of being nice.
I recently told G that someone on his rugby team was not allowed in the house because he as an ass to me in front of others – did not apologize – claimed it was joke — even though all was done in front of my kids and a bunch of new people.
Fuck that, I decided. I have served him food at my table – and this is the way he treats me. Nope – not allowed.
But he is easy to ban.
The harder people to stop being nice to are those who disguise themselves as friends – as people who care about me. But in the end, they only want what they can get from me. My needs be damned. My circumstances be damned. I have to be nice and give them what they need.
Because of my upbringing, I give too many second (and more) chances to people. Even today, I gave another chance to a guy who is being a prima donna for showing at my art gallery. “I know you are holding a grudge” was his comment to me. But let’s forget the last three times I’ve seen him, and he had ignored me completely. Yet it is I who is not being nice and holding a grudge.
Brene Brown has a mantra that is simply “do not rise, do not shrink. Hold your sacred ground.” I do love that mantra because it is truth. Just stand where you are – where your truth is. Don’t defend or apologize for your truth. I like that.
Yet it is so fucking hard.
I have 43 years of it being so fucking hard.
43 years of having both parents drill into me the need to be nice.
41 years of having it also being about me being a good example as a big sister.
And like I mentioned, it wasn’t long ago where my parents and brother told me I should be nice to my sister-in-law and be nice in terms of her feelings about a vague Facebook post.
I’m kind of done with being nice.
I’m kind of finished with being the person always responsible with “fixing relationships”.
I’m kind of through feeling like I have done something wrong when it isn’t me but them.
I’m done being nice.
My answer is going to be more “no” than “yes” these days.
Regardless, the outcome for me is the same – no intimacy, no close friendships, only feeding the ego of others.
I’m done pretending.
Because, at the end of the day, I am fair, but I’m not always nice.
If I call someone out, it is because they are not nice – they are not fair – they are off base.
As for me, nice is only a problem because I’ve been programmed for it. I am working on unprogramming it.