A little while ago a friend and I were nattering over a pint. Herself was in tears about some recent love interest who, to cut a long story short, had turned out to be an absolute douche nozzle. Muggins here, of course, got her hackles up - How dare he treat my friend like that? She's been nothing but good to him. She deserves better. If I could catch him I'd wring... and so on.
Now, indulge me while I back track a tad here. At the time, said friend, if I were to really dig into the nitty gritty of it all, wasn't the best friend I'd ever had. In fact she had royally f@#~ed me over before, on more than one occasion. All of that, however, was in the past, forgiven and, to the best of my ability, forgotten, and right at that moment all I felt was her pain; in that moment I would have done anything to take away that pain.
After our jolly good bitching and blubbering session, I got to thinking about my own past hurts. Although I know this kind of thing is never a competition, I don't have my foot on the exaggerator when I say that men have done worse to me in the past, and nobody had stood up for me back then, not even me.
Here was I, fully prepared to engage in a round of fisticuffs with a stranger, in a battle that wasn't mine, for a friend whose loyalty, if I were to be really honest about it, was still in question, yet time and time again I had let people walk all over me and not said a word. Worse still, I had gone back and let those people do it all over again, and aforementioned friend fell slap-bang in the middle of this category.
At this point I was hit with what I like to think of as 'an epiphany.' For a split second I saw a sweet, vulnerable little girl who was hurt and lost, who got her emotions into all sorts of turmoil over silly boys because of her Disney ideals of love and romance. That girl was me.
Suddenly I want to throw my arms around her and protect her as I had wanted to protect my friend. I wanted to don those fisticuffs and knock all those douche nozzles upside the head so she would know that someone had her back, that someone cared she was hurting.
How often in life do we do this? So many times we see other peoples pain and wish there was something we could do about it, but we reduce our own pain to just desserts - it's my own fault, I should have known better, I made my bed now I may lie in it. We so easily forgive the actions that led to pain in others, yet we send ourselves to the bold step indefinitely for exactly the same actions.
And it comes down to this - who, of all the people out there, knows us the most? Who knows every tiny little detail of the heartache we've endured? Who is loyal to us from the moment we were born until the day we die? Moreover, who of all those in pain, can we actually do something for? The answer is singular, and it's that little girl inside.
I will never forget that instant when I saw her, or the guilt I felt for what I had willingly put her through, all the while saying 'ah feck it, she can take it.' And as long as I live, I hope I never do forget. I've wasted far too much time on over-thinking and what-if's, analysing all my actions leading up to a certain end, saying 'if only you'd done this or that, Emma.'
There comes a time when we need to cut ourselves the same slack as we give others. Be kind to that little girl inside, the one best friend you can always rely on, who will by your side until you kick that proverbial bucket. Cast a thought to her as you waver on the brink of actions you're unsure of, thinking 'feck it, she can take it.' Would you do that to a friend? Would you even do it to an enemy? I'll wager that any one of use would go out of our way to ensure our actions don't have a negative fallout on those around us, so why can we not afford ourselves the same courtesy?
Hold that little girl's hand, tight, wipe her tears, tell her it's okay and that we all make mistakes. Sing her the words of the immortal Kris Kristofferson so she no longer feels so foolish - I'd rather be sorry for something I'd done, than for something I didn't do. Then, when the dust settles and the tears run dry, strap on those mental fisticuffs and prepare to beat the seven colours of the rainbow out of the one who put the tears there in the first place.