Set It To Rights….

Daily Prompt: Set It To Rights

Think of a time you let something slide, only for it to eat away at you later. Tell us how you’d fix it today.

Once upon a time, when I was young and stupid I lived in Oklahoma. I was married to a man enlisted in the US Air Force.

By the very nature of the beast…military…I was cast into a group of wives that were also married to military men.

I met a woman named Laura who was married to Mark.  Mark and my husband worked together.  Laura and I both had little baby girls…hers about 2 months younger than mine.

We would get together for assorted gatherings and what not.  I didn’t really care for her but that seemed irrelevant as wives of serviceman are supposed to stick together.  She was also prior military and was currently a member of the Reserves.

One day Laura decided to pay me a visit, brought her daughter over to play with mine.  My daughter didn’t like Laura’s daughter but…oh well.  Laura sat on the floor of my living room and started telling me everything wrong with my husband.  Why he wasn’t a good man, a good provider, a good person…if you wanted to go that far in her character assassination.

I was pretty astounded.  You are talking about MY husband in HIS house!  You need to leave!!!

Certainly I had complaints about my husband, but they were MY complaints which I earned by being married to him and living with him.  For her to talk about him as if I would agree with her, in the house he lived in, seemed just utterly wrong on so many levels.

We didn’t maintain a friendship after that.  But it can be a small community in the military, among those doing the same type of work…the same division, squadron or in this case, “flight” and their spouses.

Laura’s husband Mark and my husband continued to work together.  The questions started circulating among “the group” as to why Laura and I were no longer friends.  Laura didn’t know and I wasn’t talking.

Months went by and I avoided Laura completely.  Since she was in the Reserves she got an assignment to go to Germany for a couple of months.  Off she went to serve in whatever capacity they needed her.

It was understood she would be gone about six months but she returned in about 7 weeks.

Her story about her return earlier than expected was one thing…her reason to me was another.  She told me the truth; the real reason for her early return.

She came over my house, as if we were still friends.  She brought her daughter with her and perhaps she knew I’d let her in because I wouldn’t want her little baby girl to be out in the cold.  I let her in, though I didn’t want to.

She brought some red wine and filled a large goblet full to drink while she chatted with me.  She sat on the floor with her daughter and placed this large goblet on the floor next to her.  The floor was carpeted in a very light…almost white carpet.  While she was talking about her trip to Germany her daughter was crawling about as babies do.

Oops!  Baby girl knocked over the wine glass!!!  The wine spilled everywhere!  And Laura sat there talking. Ignoring this huge stain that look like blood seeping into the carpet.   Ok…wait…let me go get some towels and clean that up…ok?  Hint hint.  She just kept on talking about Germany.

While I cleaned up the wine I started listening to what she was saying.

She was telling me that she got kicked out of Germany for sleeping with an officer.

Ok…what?  Kicked out?  Sleeping with an officer?  As in CHEATING on your husband?!

Yes.  She was not remorseful. She was not apologetic.  She thought it was funny or entertaining.  Why she elected to tell me this sordid tale I did not know.  Did she think I wouldn’t tell anyone?  She was right.  I wouldn’t.  Did she think I would condone this bad behavior?  She was wrong.

She finished telling me all the details in this affair she had while in Germany and then finally left.

I stared at that wine stain…you cannot get red wine out of white carpet unless you cut that section out…and wondered about Laura.  What motivates her?  What was she thinking?  Did she not care about Mark who just adored her? Did she not care that she was exposing her daughter to potentially messy custody battle?  I had no answers to any of those questions.

Maybe I just didn’t care; after all I really disliked her and now she’s given me a valid reason to dislike her.  But I said nothing to anyone.  I did not tell my husband…I kept my silence on everything Laura told me.

Flash forward a couple of years and we’re now living in Japan.  For a break in the routine of being a wife with two babies now I put my husband in charge of the kids and took off to Korea for a week or so.

While in Korea I ran into Laura’s husband Mark.  We were in some local bar downtown in Osan where Americans were somewhat of a novelty.  I saw Mark and he saw me. We started chatting.

The subject of Laura came up.  Apparently they had separated and divorced…the circumstances behind that I was not privy to as it occurred after we had left Oklahoma.  Mark sat on a bar stool in this crappy little bar in Osan and told me that he missed Laura, that he wanted her back….etc.

He then brought up the time she had gone to Germany.  He said he knew I knew something about it….what did I know he asked.  Even then I was reluctant to say.  But Mark started blaming himself for the divorce.  He started telling me he should have been this or that or whatever so Laura would have been happier.  On and on he beat himself up.  On and on he lamented not understanding why Laura became so distant to him and so forth.

He repeated himself that he wanted to reconcile with her.

I don’t really know what came over me…was it that I didn’t like Laura?  Was it because I had known Mark for some years and knew he was a good man?  Was it spite I had for Laura because of her bashing my husband in his house?  All these years was I still harboring that?

Apparently so, that and more.  I suddenly said…I know why Laura came home from Germany so soon.

You do?

Yes.  It wasn’t because she came down with the flu, like she told you.  It was because she was kicked out. She was having an affair with an officer!  I just blurted it out.  I told him that she had come over my house upon her return and told me.  She laughed about it.

She was cheating and she got caught and she got kicked out Mark, that’s the facts, that’s the truth, I told him.

He looked at me for a half a minute and his face just melted. He crumbled in front of me.  What I had said just crushed him.  He looked at me a moment longer, assessing me, considering what he knew about me—do I lie?  Exaggerate? Is she spiteful?  He knew I was none of those things.

I saw these thoughts as they crossed his mind.  They were plain on his face.  He wanted so badly to scream at me and tell me I was a liar.  But something inside him knew I wasn’t lying.   He knew, just knew I was telling the truth and it destroyed him.  My words took away his hope with Laura.  He looked around and then got up and ran out of the bar.

I’ve never seen nor heard from him since.  I do not know what happened to him or Laura. But I carry that with me each and every day.  That one random night in a crappy bar in Korea. I remember.

I said something that crushed a man.  I had no right.  I had no justification.  I had no valid reason for doing so.  That I didn’t do the “act” that I talked about was irrelevant.  I told him something that was pretty much common knowledge as Laura liked to brag about her  escapades—but something Mark did not want to believe.   He wouldn’t listen to gossip; refused to hear what others might say about Laura, until I told him.  Out of the blue in a shabby bar in Korea I shattered his world.

I didn’t do it on purpose. But maybe I did as a last screw you to Laura.

From that moment on I realized I was wrong.  I should have said nothing.  Let life do what life will do and Mark will be fine one way or the other.

I remember that lesson that night…do no harm.

I remember it daily.  When someone asks me something, I consider the question but I also consider the potential damage my answer might give.  If it is hurtful I do not answer. If it is damaging I will keep my silence.

I wish I could take that moment back…that moment where I decided to expose Laura for who she was.  Expose her to the man who should know her the best—her husband.

I cannot undo what was done.  I cannot unsay what I said.  But I can certainly never ever do or say anything like that again!

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/daily-prompt-set-it-to-rights/

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11 thoughts on “Set It To Rights….

  1. Hello Rose! Nice new blog. Sleek. All the roses have gone but one … I’ve done a “blog makeover” a few times as well. I decided with the latest one that I needed to let go of the white ice queen thing I had going on and embrace (or reveal, probably) some of my femininity. I used to think that male readers would run away, but if they are frightened of ballet slippers, then I may have to question their manliness.

    Anyway, very interesting story. Why do people leave feedback, click like, and not vote?? Wow, I don’t know what I would have done in your situation. That’s a hard one. I don’t think you can blame yourself too much. I mean, the man was blaming himself it seems and you knew it wasn’t his fault. Tough situation.

    Sometimes people ask me questions and I *know* that they will not like the answer. I saw on a movie I think, someone once said, “Don’t ask a question if you might not like the answer.” I’ve never forgotten that (but I have forgotten where I heard it!). So now I say to people when they ask me a question which I know they won’t like it when I answer: “You won’t like the answer. You sure you want to ask me that?” I just give them a chance to change their mind. Nobody ever has though. Inevitable subsequent anger, tears, blame, etc. I gave them fair warning!

    Very interesting post. 🙂

    Like

    • Yes, I’ve changed the look of the blog yet again. I believe it’s been twice now that I’ve changed it since we first met here. I get bored, I get unsettled or I change my outlook or direction or all of the above and then change the blog “look”. I used to be on MySpace and change the look of the page often, depending on my mood at the time and the page reflecting my mood. I think I’m still doing that. Or I simply haven’t landed on a look that I can live with for a long time. I may never stick with a look! Lol Thank you for noticing though.

      I remember the old Swift Expressions page and now know the new one. It’s clean and slick and very professional without being stand-offish. Men like flowers and roses and ballet slippers and soft things…and liking those soft things does not reflect on their manhood in anyway. But to say they are well rounded perhaps. If they didn’t like those things then they’d be nothing but Neanderthals and want a huge turkey leg to gnaw on. Men are much more sophisticated than that and I wonder if many women and even society gives men the wrong message—it is not safe for your masculinity to like soft things. Bah! Besides men have to like soft pretty things to keep their wives/significant others around!

      Yes I knew it wasn’t Mark’s fault; the demise of the marriage. Even factoring in he is human and prone to faults as we all are. This was not his fault however and to let him beat himself up was too much for me. But I was young and angry and while I’m neither of those things anymore, I’m still about right and wrong and fairness as I was then in an unrefined sort of way. It was wrong what she did and it was wrong that he took responsibility. I had to right that wrong in some small way.

      I don’t know why people don’t vote. Maybe it’s those lurker types that you mention occasionally. When I see a “vote” block I always do. I think it’s important to the writer to have that feedback. But then again I rarely, if ever just “like” a post. I always try to comment something a little more substantial then “nice writing” or whatever. I did have a blogger that reblogged a post relevant to something I had written. I read it and was so overwhelmed by it that I had to really think about it for a while before responding. However I did comment to that effect…I’ll respond later after I’ve had time to reflect some more. I know you understand what I mean. Perhaps it’s a matter of giving what I want. All of us here in the blog world want a “like”, a comment, some feedback on what we write. Except you now. Lol! Since all your comments are closed. I’ve read some posts but there’s no comment section and I abhor the just “like” and go away interaction. I suppose it’s a validation thing or something along those lines. I consider that whenever I read someone’s post. I like to think others think about that as well when they read what I’ve written. If they don’t however, I will still keep writing as I’m doing it for me, not for “them”. Whoever “them” might be.

      Interesting about the “Sometimes people ask me questions and I *know* that they will not like the answer.” And that movie quote…it’s interesting to me because I have said that often to people, “Don’t ask a question if you might not like the answer.” I am wondering now if my response to them is based on the experience with Mark that I wrote about. It just might be!

      You are soooo right when you said people always TELL you go ahead, tell me what you think and then when you do there is that “inevitable subsequent anger, tears, blame, etc.” Yes indeed, you and I gave them fair warning! I think perhaps they didn’t expect the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you God answer though. That’s were political correctness and I part ways. If you want to know I will tell you because I respect you enough to know the whole truth, not the soft flowery PG rating of truth that you can take or leave.

      I’m sorry for this response turned into a novella. Its clear to me that during my hiatus/hibernation away from the blogging world I have a LOT of words pend up! lol Time to get back to the keyboard and write…at the very least my goal is to finish Solemn Anniversary.

      Like

      • Excellent feedback to my feedback! No need to apologise for the “novella”! LOL. Yes I think you’re right that more men are accepting that some softness is not a bad thing. And as you say, any man who can’t stand a few pretty things should be gnawing on a dinosaur bone and living in a cave. Personally I like effeminate men (said so in one of my posts). I designed my husband’s blog (I’m like you! Keep wanting to change my blog style or at least design someone else’s blog!) and his blog has some very feminine touches to it. He’d be fine with it covered in flowers and baby animal photos if it wasn’t for his terrible fear of people thinking he might be gay. That always seems a way bigger concern for men than women – if they’re *not* gay, they worry that they will be mistaken for gay. I don’t really see what the problem is. You are or you aren’t. How’s it the end of the world if someone mistakes you for being gay? But it seems like a huge issue for straight men. I don’t think women sit around worrying if people might mistake them for being a lesbian. Anyway, I shall stop before I write my own novella! LOL.

        Oh but one more point! Yes I do have comments turned off for most posts now because some people don’t like what I write and feel the need to tell me (as if feedback from some person I’ve never met is going to change my whole outlook on life). I don’t have time to respond to everyone who feels disgruntled about something I’ve written. Hence the new set up. Comments closed if it’s my opinions, but comments open in the Slider where I am very happy to receive feedback. 🙂

        And you know, I have actually turned off the “like” option for almost everything as well BUT they still show up in the Reader. So I do get people “liking” my posts even though on the blog itself, they’re not actually visible (not on my PC anyway). Don’t know what the rest of the world is seeing. But you’re right, I’m strange, and most people do like feedback! I like it to, but only for certain posts. I know some of what I write rubs people the wrong way, and I understand that. They don’t have to read it. They can write the opposite on their own blog. I’m not trying to persuade anybody of anything. All I know is I do get some emails or comments/messages via Facebook etc that there are some people who like it. That’s good enough for me. 🙂

        Ok, now my feedback is a mile long too! And it’s 2.15 am in England. Bed time!

        Like

  2. Rose, you are not only brave, human and funny but also a beautiful writer. What’s funny is that as your story was unfolding I was thinking, “wow, she really knows how to keep her mouth shut.” When you blurted out the truth, I totally understood why. I don’t think you did anything wrong to be honest. He shouldn’t have asked if he didn’t want to hear the answer. He also shouldn’t have put you in that position. Now, if you had yelled after him, “You can’t handle the truth!” that wouldn’t have been cool. But you didn’t.

    Like

    • “You can’t handle the truth” was line that had yet to written at the time! Or made famous by Jack Nicholson. Perhaps he wasn’t able to handle the truth while it was all going on but when I told him I think he handled as well as anyone would. Being in a foreign country and enlisted in the military one has to behave to a certain degree. I DO know how to keep my mouth shut! I just didn’t at that particular time.

      I remember it clearly, I wonder if he does. That would be an interesting follow up maybe.

      Thanks for your kind comments AND for reading!

      Like

  3. Wow, so you are human!
    Come on, who among us wouldn’t have wanted to do exactly the same thing? However, I agree – best to choose our words carefully and “do no harm” I like it.
    Excellent, honest and gripping post!
    P.S. – doesn’t white wine get the red wine out – or is that an old wives’ tale?

    Like

    • lol! I don’t know what gets out red wine really. I think I’ve heard club soda. I was 24 I think and had no clue about those things. I didn’t even drink wine back then. I guzzle it now…no, no, no I’m just kidding. Thanks so much for your comment, yes I guess I am human after all. Catty behavior is never good though and it was catty on my part. Lessons learned though…

      Like

  4. Wow…that’s brave of you to tell so I commend you for sharing your story with us, I was really drawn into your writing so good job. I’m now thinking of what I’m going to write about for this DailyPost and I have a few stories I could share but I’m not sure if I’m brave enough to share those. You were in a difficult position and although I agree with Jax on not having regrets, I also believe that people should be honest and so Laura should have come clean to begin with. I don’t blame you for telling Mark the truth it’s not your fault that their relationship didn’t work out. Laura’s karma will come back to her so don’t feel bad about this decision! I wouldn’t give it another thought :)! You’re amazing!

    Like

    • Hey! Thanks for reading! I don’t blame myself for the breakup of their relationship or that my telling Mark prevented a reconcilliation. That is Karma…they made their bed and all that. What I don’t like is that I said what I said, I think partly out of a long time festering hate…or desire for revenge. I was young at the time…regardless of what part I played in their relationship, I still take ownership of my bad behavior for lack of better term I guess.

      Would I feel the same way if Mark reacted differently? Highly likely. If he just shrugged me off..ok I said what needed to be said, hit the ball and move on. But his reaction…the emotional aspect of it…I feel badly about. I caused him pain for maybe my own selfish reasons. Though I did want him to know the truth, was it my place to tell him?

      In retrospect I think not. It was Laura’s place to be honest. Ultimately Mark was the victim. Of Laura’s selfishness and cheating and then my telling him of Laura’s behavior. ugh….If I had to do it all again, knowing what I know now I would zip my lip and think God will sort it out for them…or they will sort it out. They don’t need my help one way or the other.

      Thank you for your comment though, it matters and it helps I appreciate it.

      Like

  5. What a horrible position you were in! I believe in not regretting anything that in the past, but instead learning from experiences, moving forward and not repeating mistakes. Sounds like you learned that the hard way.

    Like

    • I absolutely did learn it. The hard way? Maybe…but self imposed a little too. As I wrote ( I think) I just blurted. I could have kept my mouth shut! But learned how to do that I sure did!

      Like

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