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Thursday, February 10, 2005
"I knew you would understand"...

…has to be one of the most hated phrases in the English language. When used in certain situations.

Now, before you go any further, I’m not talking about any specific events, or specific people in this entry. I’ve wanted to write about this phrase for a very long time and my frustrations over it.

I’ve heard these words so many times when people have wanted to explain something away to me. “Oh, I didn’t invite you to the party because I knew your mom wouldn’t let you go. I knew you would understand,” or “I’ve been so incredibly busy at work and I couldn’t email you/send your package. I didn’t forget, I swear, but I knew you’d understand.”

It’s a most overused and misused phrase and that’s because it’s being used as an excuse. And it’s a lame one at that. It’s the ultimate in a white lie told to someone’s face that they really can’t call you on. No one wants to say that they didn’t invite you because they didn’t want you there, or that they simply forgot about you because life got in the way. The phrase has changed tone from two people who can truly understand what the other is going through, to having one person verbally force the other to understand what’s going on (even though it’s not quite true, or maybe not quite genuine). After all, it’s easier (and better) to expect that the person would sympathize and empathize instead of hurting them with the truth, right?


Personally, I want the truth. It tells me where I stand. Oh, you didn’t want me at the party because I have reality and logic on my side, that’s fine. Or you just forgot about communication or packages because your life got in the way – believe me, *that* I totally understand.

Now, don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of other ways to use that phrase and not have it be an excuse. Like when you’re talking with other stitchers about the frustration of frogging the same part over and over again. We *all* understand that. Or finding another hockey fan who is going through withdrawals this season and commiserating (and beating up on all parties involved in this stupidity). That’s a perfectly logical and understanding moment. Or venting to another board owner about spammers that hit your board or why someone will say something and then someone else beats them up on another board.

Those are perfectly sane and logical “I’m talking to you about this because I knew you’d understand” types of moments. They’re not excuses – you’re sympathizing with each other about experiences that you’ve both been through at one time or another. Or have been through frequently (unfortunately). I can’t sit here and say that I’ll won’t write about certain things that I always said I wouldn’t write about and then expect you to understand. You may not be in my mindset, or have the perspective on something that I have – therefore, I can’t assume that you’ve walked that mile in my shoes and truly know how it feels like. Likewise, I expect that other people would think the same of me – you can’t make the assumption because you just don’t know (or you can’t base it on past experiences, because there might be one variable that’s different this time). Using that phrase to assuage your guilty conscience or as an excuse just ain’t right.

*sigh* That’s the crux of the real frustration – some people just don’t use it genuinely and I really wish they would…

…I knew you would understand.