February 16, 2007–Friday (non-italic text within parentheses are current notations)
Today’s Truth: I AM MOVED BY KINDNESS
I sent Debbie (HR manager) a card last week, sort of a get well soon, miss you, thank you for being you note. What I wrote to her was personal, and I cried as I wrote it, cried as I proofread it. And when I got her reply email today and the kind words she had for me, my eyes teared up again. When I looked at all the people sitting at my surprise party table last Friday, I cried that Lisa cared that much about me to put that together. I like it when people are good to each other. When someone is kind to me, I want to be kind back, show them love. I can’t help but respond when someone reaches out. I am moved by kindness.
Obvious, right? Pay it forward and all that. But for me it goes a little deeper than that. I don’t expect kindness from people. I am suspicious out of the gate. If you are kind to me I think you’re either making fun of me or want something. So when someone goes above and beyond for me–even when it’s a friend or family member–I am still shocked that they did.
To explain the entry, Debbie had been out of the office on sick leave and I sent her a little get well soon note detailing a time we shared together in her office. Debbie always had great music playing in her office, ranging from country to rock to old school pop and R&B. On this particular day I had walked by and heard New Edition’s You’re Not My Kind of Girl. I poked my head in and said, “Wow, I haven’t heard this song in a long time.” She said, “Then stop and listen for a while.” She pointed to a chair and I took her up on her offer. I shared with her the story of the song and why it was significant to me and I’ll share it with you:
I was twenty and getting ready to go out with my sister to see a local band. We were in her bedroom putting on make-up when the song came on. It was the first time I ever heard it and the words struck a chord with me. (Oh girl, I know that you’re attracted to me and I should feel the same about you . . . but the chemistry just isn’t there . . . it’s not your looks; you’re very pretty. It’s not your style; the way you dress is oh so fresh. It’s not the way that you carry yourself. Oh girl, I’m sorry, you’re not my kind of girl, but you’re the kind of girl that a man’s dreams are made of . . . you’re the kind of a girl that a man would be proud to call his own). For almost two years I had been playing the flirty flirty thing with one guy in the band and wondering why he wasn’t asking me out (yes, he’d asked me to fuck him, but who didn’t get that offer?). I wanted dates, vacations, romantic dinners. That first, then we could move on to his generous offer. But no, he never seemed interested in getting to know me. And I tortured myself with the why of it all. What was wrong with me? Why didn’t he, who was the biggest womanizer around, not want me? Why wasn’t I good enough? Then I heard this song and realized, sometimes it just isn’t there. I myself had been around plenty of gorgeous, built, funny, talented, smart men and many times had wanted the high, goofy, skinny asshole sitting next to him instead. It was that song that really helped me start to get over this guy. Now it wouldn’t be until I fell for someone else that following July that I would really move on. There were a lot of tears in between, but letting go of someone is hard, especially at twenty. Debbie thanked me for sharing such a personal story and whatever would transpire professionally between Debbie and myself over the course of the next three years, I always held that day close in my heart and loved her for it. So when she sent me an email thanking me for the card and basically saying what a positive uplifting thing it was in her day, and what a positive uplifting person I was every day in the office, how I always made her smile and she liked having me around, I felt pretty great. It felt nice to believe her words and let them move me.
The other thing I mention is my surprise party. Now, I hate surprise parties. I hate parties in my honor. Again, it goes back to thinking everyone really doesn’t want to be there, I’m keeping them from something much more important. But what I thought was going to be a friendly monthly outing with friends Nancy and PJ turned into a surprise dinner party for me. And I almost didn’t go. I was so depressed I almost bailed. But Lisa said PJ and Nancy were looking forward to it and I’d be really shitty if I didn’t show. I almost didn’t wear any make-up, either. But Lisa said, “It’s Vegas. Just wear a little.” I cried most of it off in Lisa’s car on the way to Claim Jumper; seriously, I was depressed the winter of 2007. But I also knew I could cry in front of Lisa, PJ and Nancy and they would accept it, so, suck it up and here I was. Well, when I walked in the restaurant and heard the hostess say, “The rest of your party is back here,” I almost had a heart attack. Who else was here? Jeff and Wanda and Katie and Jamie and a bunch of people from Canyon Ranch. All there to celebrate my birthday. Apparently my depression wasn’t so secret, and everyone thought it important to show for me. I cried again, but for a different reason. Here I was, crying over some guy who left the state, and me, behind, and right in front of me was a table full of people who had shown up. I felt so loved, so lifted. Normally I would have screamed at Lisa for doing something like this. But it showed me just how much she cared about me, what a true friend she was. Moved by kindness, you better believe it.
I know it’s very important to be kind to others, but you know what’s even more important sometimes? You guessed it, beautiful babies: letting someone be kind to you. Accepting their kindness for what it is, as an isolated gesture, meant just for you. You deserve it. That’s the truth.