"...SWEET-heart." The word was not spoken loudly but with such contempt, I felt sick.
I stepped into the frozen food aisle just as the woman spat the word at her partner. The word "sweetheart" historically means "beloved one." However, her defensive energy and tone contradicted the word's definition.
I sensed him glancing at me as I stuck my head in the ice cream freezer to look for frozen broccoli. I realized I had interrupted a very private, heated conversation and I wanted to hide.
The man said quietly, "I've already apologized about this. Do we have to do this here?"
She didn't take his hint.
"I told you," she said slightly louder than appropriate, "your way wasn't going to work, SWEET-heart."
Ick. There was that word again and my skin crawled with her defilement. I experienced it as demoralizing and wanted to intercede on the man's behalf. I glanced through the fog collecting on the glass door and noticed he was staring blankly at the frozen pies. He took a deep breath and sighed as I shut the freezer, opting for fresh broccoli. I lowered my eyes, trying to be invisible and to not hear his distress or her anger as I quickly passed.
Disregarding him, she blazed, "You've made so much work for me now, SWEET-heart."
Even though I'd made it to the end of the row, I instinctively ducked as the barb flew through the air, grateful to be far enough from it that I didn't feel the full impact. I felt a lingering sadness, though, and was very bothered by the experience.
I've thought about this experience for days and it has strengthened my commitment to congruently speak with love. It has also brought into sharp focus how I choose to use terms of endearment.
The Congruent Heart by Angie K. Millgate
© Angie K. Millgate 2010 All rights reserved.
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