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They would be here any minute.

I sighed. Looking down I noticed my hands were clenched into fists. I needed to relax.

Taking a couple of deep breaths I decided to make some tea. I would be prepared. I wanted their stay to be as short as possible. I wouldn’t give them an excuse to stay longer than necessary.

As I prepared the tea likely scenarios went through my head. ‘What was it they would most likely say? What I would say in response? When would it be best for me to say nothing?’

‘It will be okay. I can do this.’

As I brought the tea out to the living area, the knock came. I took one last deep breath, and walked to the door. I hesitated. A second knock came, louder this time. ‘It will be okay. I can do this.’ I told myself.’

It was time.

I opened the door, and there they were, the three of them. “Come in.” I said forcing a smile. “This is a pleasant surprise.”

It’s not a surprise, and it’s not pleasant, and you know it!” the first man said raising his voice.

We don’t appreciate having to wait.” The second man added.

I attempted to put them at ease. “Well, please come in, make yourselves comfortable. I have tea ready for you. Your favourite, of course.”

Humph.” mumbled the first man. “Alright, let’s get to it.”

I poured the tea, sat down, and waited for them to begin. There was no point in me trying to hurry the along the conversation.

I knew from past experience that they would voice their opinions only when they were ready.

I knew from past experience that they would voice their opinions only when they were ready.

It didn’t take long. The first man jumped right in with that familiar sharp edge to his voice. “So, what was that about today, huh? They were all over you. They never let you get a word in edge-wise, heaping judgment all over you.”

The second man chimed in, “How dare they! They had no right! They turned on you, and they are supposed to be your friends and family!

I did my best not to flinch. I politely nodded and took a sip of my tea. It was not time for me to respond, not yet.

The third gentlemen finally spoke up, looking at me with a sad, remorseful look, and said softly, “I worry about you. You need someone to look after you, to stand up for you. You’re really not that strong. What will you do now? How can you show your face after you’ve been humiliated? It would be better for you to give up this crazy idea of wanting to do something radically different than everyone else. It’s not going over well.”

I took a couple of deep breaths, looking at each of them in turn. The first gentleman was seething, the second had his arms crossed obstinately, and the third, with shoulders slumped, was looking down and slowly stirring his tea.

“Well, it was an eventful afternoon, that’s for sure. I wasn’t expecting some of the responses I received for my new career and life choices, but it happens. I can’t expect everyone to be completely supportive.”

That’s an understatement!” the first gentlemen cried out almost jumping out of the chair.

They are judgmental and spiteful.” said the second man defiantly.

The third man added quietly, “You knew that was the reaction you’d get. They will never understand.

I started to feel that familiar tension building inside me. I reminded myself that this is what I had prepared for. It was time for me to stand up for myself. I could do this.

It was time for me to stand up for myself. I could do this.

“Gentlemen, I understand your concerns. Your points are well taken, and valid to some degree. However, I’m not about to dwell on today’s events any longer. What’s done is done. Whether you like it or not, others are entitled to their opinion. I appreciate that I have my own opinion, so how can I not accept that others have theirs? I won’t let today’s events dampen my enthusiasm. I intend to continue on this path, even without complete support from family and friends.”

You really are stubborn and thickheaded. You’re not even going to ask for an apology, are you?” demanded the first man.

“No, I’m not.” I said. “I don’t need one.”

Don’t you feel even a little angry with them?” fumed the second man. “Aren’t you even a bit perturbed they wouldn’t change their minds and accept your point of view?”

I replied carefully. “I refuse to try to convince others that I’m right and they’re wrong. As I said, everyone is entitled to their opinion. Besides, it would be a waste of my time and energy.”

The room fell silent.

Eventually, the third man said meekly, “So, it appears our visit has been of no value. You will not listen to us. It seems our guidance is no longer appreciated. So we have no choice but to leave you to the pain and loneliness that will result from your decision. We feel sorry for you my friend.

With that, they all got to their feet and headed to the door. As the second man opened it, he turned and said in a voice bathed in sarcasm, “Can we assume that our rooms are no longer available here, and that our earlier dismissal from your residence is still in effect?

Even though I did my best to prevent it, the corners of my mouth curled into a slight smile. “Yes, you assume correctly. I have new roommates and it appears they will be here for the foreseeable future. I am grateful for your concern, and the suggestions for my wellbeing. I wish you all well. You are welcome, every so often, to come by for a short visit.”

The three of them looked uncertain and a trifle perplexed, as they headed out the door.

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I felt good as I watched them walk away. I realized that they no longer controlled my life the way they used to. They still had the ability to trigger emotional responses in me.

I felt good as I watched them walk away.

But I’m aware of it now and understand what they’re doing. I no longer ignore the emotions. I used to let the feelings build, and then they would burst from me in unfortunate ways. I recognize those challenging emotions now and respond to them with patience, and non-judgment. When I do, I have the satisfaction of watching those emotions slowly disappear, just as my three former roommates were doing right now.

So I waved goodbye to Frustration, Resentment and Self-Pity.

As I was about to close the door, I saw my new roommates coming down a separate path towards the house. I broke out in an ear-to-ear grin, welcoming Acceptance, Empathy and Confidence once again into my home.

This story was also published on The Good Men Project here.

 

 

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