birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Progress Not Perfection

Being misunderstood feels like a sharp breathlessness in my throat and a churning in my stomach. Being misunderstood is being unheard and unseen.

I had a friendship with someone whose coattails I could ride on. I thought she knew me better than anyone. I realized as I recovered that she didn’t have any idea what I was really thinking. And that in the tender moment on my favorite show, she scoffed. I knew at the sound of the scoff that I was done.

I was too scared to tell her the truth. I was scared for good reason. This person was known for her vindictiveness and had contact with an ex of mine. Every time I ran through it in my mind, the conversation ended with her doing some unimaginably horrible thing, like egging his house and blaming it on me somehow. It filled me with panic.

So I didn’t tell her. I laid in our friendship like a limp fish instead. When she lost someone close, I didn’t call. When she asked me what was wrong I said nothing. I hated doing this. It felt disrespectful. And, I couldn’t be the person I was in this friendship anymore even if I’d wanted to. It was like that old person had gone off and died.

Eventually she called me out. It was ugly but short. She said I obviously wasn’t interested in continuing the friendship, so neither was she. Then it was over. I felt relieved and guilty.

In a way, I hadn’t been misunderstood at all. She had seen clear to the truth of it. But she did misunderstand one thing, maybe: that I didn’t want to hurt her. That Id been doing the best I could.

The End

Negative Nuance