Apparently, I am obtuse about many things, especially when interacting with men. I am constantly in trouble with the things that I say.
I once had an immensely helpful and friendly neighbor. It was he who welcomed me into the neighborhood, stopped in to chat, helped with things I could not do.
One day as we were chatting in my living room, he shared with me that he had been physically abused by a Roman Catholic priest when he was an altar boy. We talked some more and eventually I invited him to come back to Mass.
He became furious and stormed out of my house. He never spoke to me again for the rest of the time we lived as neighbors.
When I told my priest in confession, he said to me, “How could you be so insensitive!”
This priest confused me. We are constantly asked to invite people to Mass. But apparently there are some people we are not supposed to invite to Mass. Unfortunately, we are not told this, so I made the blunder of inviting my neighbor to come back to Mass.
I was a member of an AIDS committee at a university hospital. One of our members was a gay man who represented the gay community. One day he told the story of a friend of his who had just died of AIDS. The young man had spent his last week of life in a hospital. I remarked, “He was lucky,” in reference to the fact that he only had to spend one week in an impersonal hospital but had been able to be at home for the rest of his illness. The young man took offense assuming that |I was referring to the fact that his friends had AIDS. As a result of this remark, and at the instigation of this young man, I was removed from this committee. I was judged to be insensitive.
I had two older brothers with Type II diabetes and congestive heart failure. Because we lived in different countries, we communicated via email. Because I am a nurse, I tend to ask people questions about their health and how they are feeling. I would ask my brothers about the ailments they had mentioned in their previous emails. I noticed that one brother was becoming more and more irate with me in his responses. So, I asked him, “You sound angry. What have I done?” He replied that I kept asking questions. My response was, “I ask you questions because I am concerned about you.” He replied, “Concern is OK, but NO QUESTIONS!” Once again, I was being insensitive.
I find it hard to know when I am being insensitive. I have probably lost friends along the way who have seen my remarks as insensitive, while I was oblivious of the impact of those remarks.
To all those who have been offended by my thoughtless remarks, please accept my apologies. I did not intend to offend you. I agree I have been insensitive, but I bore you no evil intent.