Who didn’t grow up hearing, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all ” ? Not many I would hope. We hear these words of wisdom and we think we live by it, but do we really ? What prompts this you ask ? My mouth. My mouth and its’ somewhat (some would argue that this is being lenient) impaired filter. I’ve been working on it, truly I have, but I’ve probably been working on it since I can first remember hearing the old say nice thing. What I forget sometimes, is to use it and saying sorry doesn’t make it better.
I invited a friend over for dinner the other night and she graciously accepted. Now this friend and I have been able to call each other friend for a very long time so it is with this in mind, and at her behest, that I refrain from using her name. Let’s call her Ducky. She’s quite resilient, tends to float along while paddling like hell underneath and she is a water-baby at heart. All nice things. See ? I can do it.
You would think that someone who I can call friend for nigh on 30 years would be eminently worthy of the say nice things mantra. And for the most part, I would say I live up to that mantra. I do try to tap in to my inner goo-dess and remember to say those positive, gooey things that everybody benefits from hearing once in a while. I certainly don’t object to hearing them occasionally. This friend provides lots of reasons to say nice things so it’s not like it’s a huge effort on my part. Except that filter thing. That apparently is still challenging.
I thought I was doing quite well though until my friend said something that kind of shocked me. Well, saddened me actually. I made some kind of snappy comment that we both laughed over but she said, “Wow, it’s taken more than an hour for you to call me a (insert some kind of negative word here).” She was laughing about it quite a lot which was good but holy moly. I was mortified. Here is someone who is as close to a sister as I’m ever going to be lucky to get and I call her names. Not only do I ignore the whole say nice mantra thing, apparently I do this a lot. Enough anyway, that my friend notices. Yikes.
She didn’t do anything wrong by saying this. In fact, she gave me a gift. She made me realize that my friends deserve to be treated with the same amount of respect and courtesy as I give to strangers. I wouldn’t walk up to someone I just met and call them some type of derogatory name, so why is that ok for someone that I love ? For strangers, I put my big girl pants on and pull out the biggest filter I can muster. I not only watch my p’s and q’s, but my b’s, f’s and s’s as well. But for this friend ? This friend who has a piece of my heart forever and for always ? Apparently I take off the filter, stick a hole in it and toss it in the trash. Yikes again.
My point ? That our friends are worthy of the kindness we show strangers. That letting those b’s and s’s slip out is not ok even when said with a laugh. That regardless of how long you’ve known someone, it’s still a good idea to keep that say nice mantra close by. If you need to super-glue a filter to your mouth, like I do, then find a way to do it. Find a way to remember that saying nice things never gets old and never requires an apology If you are lucky enough to have a Ducky, make sure you deserve them. It’s worth working on.