It's a phenomenon I've encountered before, and yet I so easily forget. The assumptions and stories we tell about people when we're not in their presence. The conclusion we form about what they're thinking, feeling, wanting. The image of them we build up in our heads which has nothing whatsoever to do with reality.
It's something I've caught myself doing before, something I thought I knew better than to do again. But these tricks of perception never go away easy, and it seems they never stay away too long even after we've banished them.
In this particular case, I do at least have some insight into what exacerbated the process. E-mails and text messages, so emotionless, cold and devoid of so-neccesary social cues got me thinking. And those thoughts took on a life of their own, assigning texture and context to simply, easy messages that held none. And my reaction fed off the lack of information, building the story up into a catastrophe. Like I said, I've caught myself here before- I know how it works.
But here's the change, or at least the effort: accepting that I've caught myself here before without judging myself for being here again. That same "What if?" question I've been applying to myself again and again in order to remove the criticism and judgement from the narrative. The permission to allow myself to feel whatever it is that i'm feeling without assigning identity and responsibility to it. Something that I did, rather than something that I am.
And in that space- that blameless, curious space- there is humor. I can laugh at myself, I can chuckle at the silly games I play in my head. And there is acceptance. I can deal with reality, take steps right in this moment to form a different narrative. And there is wisdom (the hard-earned kind) from compassionate observation. And above all, there is humanity. Not perfect, not flawless.. But yes, humanity.