Who likes to be scolded? Not me. I didn’t as a child, and I certainly don’t like being scolded now at 56 years old. I used to just cringe and scuttle off in shame and embarrassment. Now I just start blubbering right then and there.
This morning we took two boxes of books to our local library. One of our neighbours is a volunteer there in a program which takes donations of used books, then resells them to raise funds for the library. So we had arranged with her to take the boxes there today. We parked, went into reception where we were instructed to go to the side door where someone would meet us. We did, and he did, and without any preamble or warning, he started scolding me for a) bringing the books in a box instead of shopping bags; and b) for coming to that door instead of through the front door to the reception desk. What?? He kept going on and on with this blatantly hostile scolding. Normally, even just a few months ago, it would have been enough to send me running for the car for cover. But this morning, I didn’t run and felt something strong and powerful well up in me – yes, it was my own voice!
I calmly (but in a slightly raised voice so I could speak over HIS voice) told him that we had pre-arranged this all with our neighbour, and that we had already gone to the reception desk FIRST and that the woman there had redirected us here to this door. He mumbled something that I couldn’t catch (though I’m pretty sure it was NOT an apology) and we all managed to stay civil long enough to get the two boxes of books where they were supposed to go. Then my husband went back to the car to re-park and I walked over to where our neighbour was working and promptly burst into tears. After taking a few moments to recompose myself, we were able to chat and she showed me around that part of the library. And then we left and that was that. Which in itself is a minor miracle.
For about the past ten years, I’ve had trouble getting myself out my front door. Everything and everybody scared me. I would burst into tears for absolutely no reason at all, right in the middle of the store, at the checkout, in the mall…it was terribly inconvenient and humiliating, and so I just stopped going out anywhere for quite a long time. Eventually I was able to get out as long as my husband was with me, but whenever he was away working, I couldn’t even go out the front door to get the mail. It was ridiculous, and irrational, but that’s the way it was.
It has only been in the past year or so that I’ve been able to go out my own front door on my own. I can even sit outside on my front porch all by myself now, though some days it can still be very difficult to do. But I force myself now, because I know it’s something I just have to do myself.
But today’s episode is exactly the sort of thing that I dread. I don’t like confrontation, hostility in any shape or form triggers all sorts of stressful responses in my body, but the very worst of all is to be scolded – especially to be scolded for something that doesn’t deserve a scolding. I’ve never been good at that, it’s long been a source of angst and sorrow for me to be scolded for something I didn’t do or that I did do but doesn’t warrant a scolding.
This morning’s confrontation was so unexpected that it totally discombobulated me – for all of a few minutes. While I learned that I still don’t like being scolded, and that I still burst into tears very easily, I also learned that it wasn’t enough to send me scuttling back into hibernation, and that I have come far enough along to have been able to stop him and stand up for myself. That felt good.
But I don’t really like that I ended up doing exactly to him what I was ranting about him doing to me…scolding him…that didn’t feel so good to either one of us. I do recognize that in his own mind he had reasons that made sense to him for approaching me like that. Sigh. We’re all works-in-progress, aren’t we!
But for now, I’ll focus on the good and positive lessons learned today and grow with that.
(PS, you’ve come a long way baby!!)