“Do you ever feel you’ve become the worst version of yourself? That a Pandora’s box of all the secret, hateful parts – your arrogance, your spite, your condescension – has sprung open? Someone upsets you and instead of smiling and moving on, you zing them.” -Joe Fox, You’ve Got Mail
Most of the time, I appreciate that Bryan challenges me. But sometimes he takes things too far. He likes playing devil’s advocate just to get me thinking and, often, to better hear and understand my thought process. He finds it interesting when I process externally. I’m pretty sure he has no malicious intent, but sometimes he seems just plain contentious, and I end up feeling like nothing more than a debate partner or, worse, a science experiment.
I’m reading through the bible chronologically again this year. Right now, I’m finishing up the story of Joseph – how he was sold into slavery by his brothers, falsely accused of sexual assault by Potiphar’s wife, ended up in prison, was forgotten by Pharaoh’s cupbearer after helping him, but eventually became Egypt’s second in command by God’s provision in God’s perfect timing. I was telling Bryan this afternoon about how much I love Joseph. He is one of my favorite bible characters, and I relate a lot to his story.
“Oh, you realized that about yourself, did you?” I heard Bryan’s smile over the phone.
“You think I’m like Joseph, too?”
Bryan’s answer – indirect as always – was, “Joseph got himself into a lot of bad situations.”
Zing! So you think I get myself into a lot of bad situations? I defended Joseph, “He couldn’t control all of the things that happened to him.”
Bryan interrupted me, as he does sometimes, “He bragged to his brothers about his prophetic dreams that someday they would all bow to him. He went into the house alone where Potiphar’s wife was, knowing full well that she was an aggressive woman who wanted him for herself — ”
My turn to interrupt. “Joseph’s brothers already hated him before he even told them about his dreams. Jacob was a fool to be so obvious about Joseph being his favorite son. And Joseph was just going into the house to do his work when Potiphar’s wife grabbed his cloak. He had no way of knowing she would be alone in there. It was bound to happen eventually. And anyway, God had a hand in everything that happened, because His plan all along was to use Joseph to save Egypt from the coming famine.”
Bryan’s counter: “But Joseph could have gotten to that same end by a far less messy path if he had exercised more wisdom and discretion.”
…I won’t continue to belabor the conversation. Suffice it to say that we didn’t end the phone call on a good note. It was our first full-blown fight. And it was awful.
I cried for a couple of hours before cleaning myself up for evening church. I tend to go to the 5:00pm service at my old church – the one I attended before my broken engagement. As a result, I don’t like socializing with many of the congregants. Most of them don’t know that part of my story, and I don’t really want to talk about it. Those that DO know about it tend to pry. “How’s your heart?” they ask me. You haven’t spoken to me in six months, while I was deep in the pit of depression. What makes you think I would want to share the most intimate concerns of my heart with you when you have proven yourself to be a fair-weather friend?
I arrived ten minutes early, so I sat in my car until the church service started, thinking it was safe to walk in unnoticed at that point. Nope. About thirty seconds after I found a spot alone in the back, one of my old acquaintances, Tiffany, came over with her boyfriend – a new addition since we last spoke. “Oh my gosh! How ARE you?! It’s so great to see you! How’s work? How’s life? What’s new?”
So. Many. Questions.
And none that I really felt up to answering. “Work’s okay,” I said simply.
“You like it?!” she asked enthusiastically.
“It pays the bills,” I answered noncommittally, hoping she caught my tone of voice that was obviously not welcoming of further conversation.
“So what’s new? Anything exciting?”
I shrugged. “Not really.”
She tilted her head to the side and put her hand on my shoulder. “How’s your heart?”
Ah, there it is. I couldn’t wait for that question. Let’s see. I’ve been absolutely destroyed emotionally in the last year, first by the man I loved who decided he didn’t want to marry me after all; then by countless so-called friends who either unintentionally said hurtful things or abandoned me altogether. I have walls up higher than you can climb; thicker than you can break through. Do you really think I’ll make myself vulnerable to you after not speaking for so long? Do you really think I’m foolish enough to believe you actually want to hear the answer to your question? No one really wants to know the answer when they ask how you’re doing. They just want you to hurry up and say “fine” so they can get back to talking about themselves and how awesome their life is.
So I told her, “I’d rather not talk about it.” When non-verbals don’t work, I resort to verbals. So much less elegant, but sadly more effective.
After the service, some people invited me to go out for frozen yogurt. I don’t know why; I’m sure I didn’t look very welcoming. I declined as politely as I could and escaped back home to my dark apartment where I made myself hot chocolate with homemade whipped cream to sip on while binge watching Netflix.
Yes, this is my life. I have officially become the worst version of myself.