The final straw
I hate being told I made the final straw, the last straw, the straw that broke the camel’s back. I hate feeling like I ruined someone’s life, disappointed them until they lost all hope in me, angered them so much and maybe it was not something I could entirely avoid, or maybe they just overreacted.
Regardless, it hurts like all hell. It hurts because sometimes it’s the end of something. It hurts because sometimes you lose something. It hurts because sometimes you lose the crutch that someone was before they stopped believing in you.
But here’s the thing about the last straw.
It doesn’t have to be “the last straw”.
It doesn’t even have to be a mention of the “last straw”. It doesn’t ever have to be explicitly mentioned for you to think, “I fucked up. Shit. I can’t believe it. I’ve let them down”. It doesn’t even have to be the last straw for it to really be the last straw. It could be a break-up: someone breaking up with you, and the reason might not even be you, but it will be them, and they will admit it. It might be a final sigh, it might be someone walking away without a response, the silent treatment. It might be you getting fired from your job after you were found playing games when you were supposed to be working, one too many times.
It might have been you. You might have actually said, “that’s the last straw”. But then again, you might not have. You might have broken up with someone, completely fed up with the person’s antics. You might have just decided that you weren’t in love with them. You might have ignored someone the next time they said hi, because they betrayed your trust.
It might be the last straw, but there weren’t even any straws before that.
You spilled someone’s secret. It was an accident, you were drunk. But the way they see it is a betrayal. You betrayed their trust in you, that they gave when they told you the secret. Your intoxication is not an excuse, and it will not be forgiven. You might have been this person’s absolute best number one friend. But the next day, bam, you’re gone, all because there only was one straw, and you blew it.
Sometimes one little thing you can do will not be forgiven. Sometimes, there is one ultimate thing that will make you lose all trust in someone. You might know it all along, as it sits in the back of your mind, almost waiting to happen. Then again, you might not know until the very moment your younger sister uses the last of the money in your savings account to buy shoes after you lent her your card to pay for her study fees.
You might not know, but when that incident does occur, there goes the final straw.
Sometimes you’re aware. You see it coming. Or you know that one thing will break it.
It might just be you.
The last straw is almost like giving up. And it doesn’t always have to directly involve another person.
“I’m done, I’m so done.”
Sound familiar? You’re trying to finish an assignment. You get to the end of a paragraph, and it isn’t your best paragraph, but you decide to stop and just write a dodgy conclusion and call it a day. Your favourite character in your favourite television show is killed off. You’re done. You stop watching, because that’s it. Doctor Who won’t ever be the same.
You lose hope. You give up. There is no point in going further, is there?
We all have a breaking point.
The final straw exists in so much of humanity, our interests, our relationships with people and the things that exist in an average person’s daily life. It might be normal for us to give up on something, and move on. It might seem like the right thing to do when we tell someone it’s over, adieu, go away, get out of my life. Done, over, cool.
But how do we feel when we’re at the other end?
I can recall many times I have been given a “last straw” reply, a handful of times I have been blocked on every channel, been ignored when I have tried to talk to someone in person. Maybe once, maybe twice, I’ve had a final message ending with, quite literally, “that’s the last straw”. A few other times, it was voiced differently, or implied with different words.
It is painful because not only do I feel like I have let someone down, I feel like I have let myself down. It’s a bitter way to tell someone that you are done and you will move on, while they are left with your cruel words to sit with and drown in the sorrows of their mistake.
Perhaps the person had been a bitchy colleague at work, right from the beginning. Perhaps it was your neighbour who left his trash on your lawn ever since you moved in.
Regardless, when you state that it’s the last straw, it’s often vicious; brutal; spoken word accompanied by other action. That breaking point is defined by us, and us only. No one else.
Next time you decide it’s the final straw, think about whether that person actually intended for you to hit breaking point.
Can you really hold a grudge?
I can’t hold a grudge, no matter how hard I try. Forgiveness, for me, is inevitable. Something that has always been, because of my childhood. I forgive anyone almost instantly. (Forgiveness is a little topic for another day…)
If someone hurts me, I can’t stay mad at them. I can’t tell someone it is the last straw or even imply so. I know that one day, down the track, our paths will surely meet again. And whatever resentment or bitterness I harboured towards that person will have dissipated, because time heals all wounds, and because you can’t expect yourself to hold those kinds of feelings, no matter how small, forever.
Yes, I do still remember that the first time I got angry at James, I ignored him for the better half of our lunch break and wanted him to apologise, but I couldn’t continue to be mad at him, even if he didn’t actually say sorry. Yes, someone in high school hurt me a lot, and apologised two years later when we bumped into each other on a train, but by then, I was no longer hurt or angry. A few months later, we bumped into each other again, and talked like old friends. Yes, I ended my friendship with Zack quite some time ago, but if I happened to talk to him again or see him again, I wouldn’t just refuse to talk to him.
In the same way, a friend was once offended by something I said publicly about him and said to me, “that’s the final straw”. Three months later we saw each other at a gig and I asked, immediately, “Hey… are we okay?”
“Of course we’re okay.”