When It’s Okay for a Friend to Hit You
I recently spent the weekend with my best friends from high school. It was an eye-opening, memorable weekend, to say the least.
At one point, I was sitting outside with one friend—let’s call her Donna—on the balcony of the apartment. We were talking about something that was going on in my life, something that, in her opinion, I’d been putting up with for far too long.
Next thing I knew, Donna got up, walked toward me, slapped me on the face, and sat back down. The slap was not hard, but still.
I assumed she was slapping some sense into me, and laughed it off. But a few moments later, she got back up and slapped me again. And again. And again. And again.
“Please stop,” I told her, but she kept going. “Please stop,” I repeated, and tears began streaming down my face. But she kept going.
“It’s not about ‘please,’” she said, as she slapped me (not hard) again.
The tears were not about the slaps, well at least, not physically about the slaps. They were about what was slowly dawning on me as Donna kept slapping me. And slapping me. And slapping me. And not stopping when I ask her to. Not stopping, despite my pleas.
I have had a tendency to put up with things in my life, because that’s what I thought I had to do when I was young. Because that’s what I learned. Because “I’m strong” and “I can handle it” and “It’s not so bad.” I’ve put up with a lot.
And while what I’ve been facing recently isn’t that bad, it’s not necessary. I don’t have to put up with it any longer, and I don’t have to ask nicely for it to stop. I can insist that it stop, or I can—get this—get up and walk away. I’m pretty sure Donna would not have followed me to slap me. I could have moved off of the balcony, or at least out of my chair.
So, while it’s really not okay for someone to slap you, even if it’s out of love, it was okay what Donna did for me. And to me. Because that lesson will stay with me for a very, very long time. Forever maybe.
I am strong and I can handle a lot. But I don’t have to. That’s what Donna was telling me.