Foot in Mouth Disease

November 18, 2002

Once again I have foot in mouth disease. Over the weekend we bought some chicken breasts thinking that we'd make fried chicken for dinner. When it came time to start neither of us was in the cooking mood so we had Thai take out instead. This morning, when I talked to Michele on the phone from work, she told me that she was improvising with the chicken in the crock-pot for dinner tonight. It sounded fantastic, chicken, tomatoes, herbs, spices, low heat, and hours of simmering.

Without thinking about it I suggested that she hold off on adding the tomato paste until later in the day, that it would thicken better if added just before serving. What she heard was me telling her how to do it. Instead of being completely supportive and open to her initiative, I stepped on her feelings by immediately going to a place of control.

I said I was sorry, but I know that I have hurt her feelings with my careless remark. I know that I am human and that I will make mistakes from time to time. I strive to show her more respect and consideration than anyone else, but in this instance I slipped and now I feel down because I wasn't considerate of her efforts on our behalf.

One of the big topics we had this weekend was the idea of vulnerability. Each of us has difficulty being vulnerable, as people who should protect and care for us have abused our vulnerabilities in the past. Making a spur-of-the-moment dinner just using her flavor instincts puts Michele in a vulnerable position. Her feelings are a part of the dish; if it is good she will feel wonderful. If it doesn't turn out the way she wants, her feelings will be bruised. In that vulnerable place where she was creating something wonderful I came crashing through with a thoughtless comment. She was open and exposed and I didn't take the time to consider that before speaking.

Not that I have done anything egregiously wrong here, I just didn't consider before I spoke.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.