Humble pie is an acquired taste. Personally, I don’t much like the taste of it – a little too bitter for my preference. In fact, I don’t know many people that do.
Unfortunately, it’s one of those foods that fuel our relationships. Without it, we are left hungry and void of any real connection. Nonetheless, we go to great lengths to avoid eating this bitter dessert: we claim to be allergic; we pawn it off on others trying to convince them they need it more than we do. Sometimes, it’s just unavoidable, so you get yourself a nice big heaping spoonful, shut your eyes, plug your nose and shove it down. Yuck.
Last week, I experienced an exchange with a friend where I had to feast on an extra sized portion of Humble Pie. For days I rationalized how I was tricked, victimized and forced to behave in the way that I did. I told myself all sorts of stories about how wronged I was and misunderstood, how it was the ignorance of the other person that caused me to speak out in such unkindly ways. It would have been so easy to just throw the pie in their face and be done with it. But, I knew better. They didn’t do anything to me. I am my own person, responsible for my own actions. Blaming them wouldn’t make me feel any better. And, it certainly wouldn’t help our relationship.
Once I was finally able to admit ownership of my actions to myself, I was faced with the horrible truth that I am not perfect. Not only am I not perfect, I now have to stand in front of someone else, someone whom I love and respect, and tell them I am not perfect. Stripping off my clothes and running naked on a weekday at lunch hour through downtown San Francisco would feel less vulnerable. But, my relationship is more important to me than my ego is, so I knew I had to do it.
I spoke clear and steadily laying out the truths of my imperfections. When I was done, we sat there in silence – my ugliness exposed and dangling through an open wound from my chest. Expecting a reaction of disgust from the sight of me, I was surprised when they instead responded by taking ownership of their own role in the exchange. They acknowledged how they might have contributed to the argument and expressed how important I am to them and how they appreciated me talking to them about it. I’ve never felt more love for my friend. And, I have never felt more connected to myself and to my truth.
As it turns out, Humble Pie comes in different flavors and can be shared with others. You should try it.