You know what I hate? Doing The Right Thing. Being the Bigger Person.
I hate doing this, in part, because it always seems to be I who make the effort--even when I have no particularly good reason to reach out to the other person; even when I'm pretty clearly the wronged party; even when I don't entirely like the other person. I send the email or make the phone call or walk across the room at the party all pleasant and smiley as if nothing in the world had ever happened.
I hate it. I resist doing it with every fiber of my being. But I can't not do it.
I have, I guess, very definite ideas about what is and isn't socially appropriate and what we owe to the people in our lives. I also believe that, generally, the harder something is--and the more I want Just Not To Deal--the more essential it is for me to do it.
But I wish, sometimes, that I could just be angry, in a pure and righteous way, holding grudges and either not speaking to those who deserve my anger or telling them off in a furious and splendid fashion. But for me, expressing anger to other people is almost never worth it. It's harder to recover from a fiery confrontation, for one thing, but more important is the fact that I tend to regard anger as a self-indulgent emotion: it's usually more about covering up or compensating for one's own sense of woundedness than it is about voicing hard truths. (And even when it's the latter, how often is it the case that the person who's an asshole will come to realize, through one's telling him so, that he is an asshole?)
So instead I make nice. I give people options and put them at ease. And I refuse to give the impression that what I'm doing isn't as natural as breathing.
And it's true that, once I make an overture, I tend to feel better--even smugly powerful--for being calm and gracious in the face of someone else's discomfort and avoidancy; it's nice, I guess, both to put someone else at ease and to know that I can master my own dis-ease. I also believe that, in the long run, graciousness and magnanimity are, like the proverbial living well, the best revenge.
But God. I still hate it. And right now I'm facing a particularly unpleasant situation, where it's clear that one party needs to make an overture. . . but it's equally clear that if I don't, no one will.
So I guess I'll do it. But I really, really, don't want to.