Last fall, when Alex and I were beginning to split up and life felt like a pencil sharpener (I was the pencil)…
I was planning to meet up with two Cup of Jo readers. We’d held a giveaway for a NYC weekend trip, and the weekend had come! Two sisters took the train to New York, stayed in a hotel together, ate yummy dinners, shopped in Nolita, all the things. I was excited to link up with them for coffee and a chat. At first, we planned to meet on Friday, but things were too chaotic at home, so we made a new plan for Saturday…which then got pushed to Sunday morning.
When I woke up on Sunday, my marriage in rubble around me, and my kids craving all the hugs, I got this text:
“Hey! Just wanted to let you know it’s truly not a big deal about meeting up today. I MEAN THIS GENUINELY AND WITH NO SUBTEXT. If you’re still up for it and would meet us in the city, of course we’d love to say hi. But if any ounce of you wants to stay home and do something cuddly with your family or just yourself, please do that. We’re seriously good either way.”
How beautiful is that? So empathetic. She clearly intuited that something was going on and gave me the grace to concentrate on my family.
And, to me, the best part of the text? “I say this genuinely and with no subtext.”
That single sentence took all the pressure off. So often, as humans, we doubt what someone is saying, especially if it’s in service to us. Are they really happy to help us move apartments? Do they honestly think it’s fine if we crash with them when we’re in town? Was their offer to babysit our kids real or just said to be nice? Of course, we should probably try to just believe people, but we often end up uncertain and surmising, and trying to figure out their headspace and ours, and getting everything muddled.
But with her text, I could just…believe her.
Since then, I’ve used the phrase dozens of times:
“Just wanted to check in re dinner tonight — I would love to come but if K is zzzzz after her show, I 100% understand if you’d like to raincheck. I SAY THIS GENUINELY AND WITH NO SUBTEXT.”
“Should I book one of these flights? I would be with you guys in Pittsburgh by Saturday. Also just tell me if it feels like too many people, I SAY THAT GENUINELY WITH NO SUBTEXT.”
And many more instances when I searched “subtext” on my phone, haha:
Thoughts? The small phrase feels straightforward and loving and packs a surprising punch. Reminds me of how my friend Jason would text, “How are you doing today?” Every single day! It felt as comforting as the wolves howling at dusk.