If you ever get the chance to treat them how they treated you, I hope you choose to walk away. —
Words hurt. Sometimes deeply. Actions matter. Sometimes too much. While we want to pretend we are all okay, sometimes we are crumbling inside because of how someone else has chosen to treat us.
When my daughter was 5 years old, we were enjoying a morning out on the town. We were taking our time going into new storefronts and exploring places we have never been. We went to get a beverage at the local coffee shop. The owner and I had been acquainted for a few years and he always greeted me kindly and made a big deal out of my children. I ordered a coffee and got a lemonade for Lily. When we sat, the shop owner approached and he proceeded to visit and catch up a bit.
As I was preparing to leave he then came back over to say goodbye. To this day, I do remember how the conversation started, but he made a comment about people being fools to believe in any type of religion at all. Remember, my young daughter was present. I asked him what he meant and he said he was an atheist. I joked when I shouldn’t have and said that being an atheist is just a lazy agnostic. I angered him. I then was subject to the verbal lashing of a lifetime. I was told that I was a fool, I was stupid, he thought I was smarter than that, and that I was ridiculous and he hoped I wasn’t raising my children to believe in nonsense. I was in absolute shock. I thought this man was my friend.
I didn’t feel the need to justify my beliefs but I did feel the need to let him how inappropriate his verbal attack was. I reminded him Lily was watching. He didn’t care. He kept insulting me. I took her hand and proceeded to the front door. He followed me. Not just to the door, but out onto the sidewalk. He was still talking, more so yelling at me. I felt the tears poking at the corner of my eyes. I wasn’t going to let him see me cry. I got to the car, and I kid you not, he continued to fire insults at me the entire time I strapped Lily into her car seat. I closed her door and turned to him. “I feel sorry for you. Do not ever speak to me again.” I got into my car slammed the door and left.
I didn’t just leave, I pulled away as quickly as I possibly could. By the time I rounded the curb, tears were streaming from my face. I grew up in a family were my parents rarely yelled at me. My husband surely never spoke to me like that. How could someone whom was my friend be so angry and scream at me and call me names? I heart felt wounded. I couldn’t catch my breath as I cried. I tried so keep it under control and I couldn’t. I gasped for air as I began to sob even more. Lily was alarmed at the rate of speed that we had left and she started realizing how upset I was. “Mom, why was he so mean to you? Why are you crying? Did he make you sad mom?”
I told her I would be okay. I didn’t know for a fact that I would be, but I told her it would happen. We got home and I called my husband. I am sure I couldn’t put together a coherent sentence for the first five minutes. My husband kept reminding me to breathe. He said slow down. Tell me what happened. I retold the story to best of my ability. I even told my husband about the remark that I made that I probably should not have. He was silent for bit and I needed to check to see if he was still there.
“Kelli, never fight back with words. It sounds like he wanted to engage in a confrontation. As if he was looking for a fight. Never give in. Don’t let him win. I am so sorry this happened. And that he followed you out to the car. Always remember, to walk away. Just so you know, this isn’t how friends talk to each other. He isn’t your friend. Is Lily okay?”
I told him Lily was fine, she was worried about me crying, but that I don’t think she totally understood what happened. My dear husband. He is always so very wise. He was right. That wasn’t how friends should ever talk to each other. I need to always walk away. He had treated me so poorly, and I shouldn’t waste time trying to reason with him when he wouldn’t have been able to hear what needs to be said.
My heart hurt. I felt depleted. I cried a few times throughout the next few days. That Saturday, my husband and I went to St. Paul and were enjoying a work party at O’Gara’s. I was facing the large windows on West 7th Street looking out towards the Xcel Center where we would soon be attending a Semi Pro Swarm Lacrosse game. Right in front of me, I see the man who was no longer a friend of mine walking down the sidewalk. I nudged Josh. He looked out the window at where I was pointing. We looked at each other in disbelief.
When my husband and I entered the Xcel Center and walked towards our box suite seats, we saw him again approaching from the opposite direction. He met my eye and turned white as a sheet. Josh continued walking straight for him. I was about 6 feet behind. He smiled at me and then looked straight at my husband. He extended his hand to Josh and Josh refused to take it. “My wife told me what happened the other day in front of our daughter. You will never speak to her again.” He nodded at him in understanding, took my hand and lead me away. Those were the only words exchanged. I don’t think I have ever seen my husband so visibly upset yet so completely in control in our entire lives together.
My hands were shaking as he pulled me into the suite. He hugged me. He hugged me until the shaking subsided. I kissed my husband and let him just hold me. My husband help mend my hurting heart that evening by standing up for me. He enabled me to see a protective side of him that had never been necessary before. He loved on me and supported me until I was able to continue on with our evening.
All these years later, I avoid his place of business. I suggest other coffee shops when setting plans with friends. I politely decline invitations when that coffee shop is the intended location. My heart no longer hurts. However, I learned some very important truths from this experience. Friends don’t treat each other the way this man treated me. Friends don’t ever call each other names. Husband’s protect their wives at all times. And children forget easily. Once in awhile now, Lily will ask why we do not frequent that shop. I tell her I like the others better. And now with Red Bench Bakery so close in Chaska, we don’t have a need to go anywhere else. Someday I will tell Lily what happened. I will tell her how I was hurt, how her father spoke truth to me, and how he stood his ground and made sure the other man knew how this was going to play out in future. She will see her father as the hero of this story. And I will always agree.
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