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The Email You 'Write But Don't Send,' and Then Send Anyway

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Flickr: ursonate
Flickr: ursonate

I am in a shame spiral.

I can't get out of it with my signature pomegranate martinis. I can't get out of it by seeking support on Facebook from people who know that I'm not a bad person. No amount of reading of blogs by other people who have made the same mistake is assuaging the feeling that my stomach is in free fall.

Why oh why did I click 'Send'?

If you are reading this and have never sent an email that should have remained overnight in draft form in a Word document nowhere near your Outbox to allow you time to come to your senses, and are winding up for an epic take-down of my character in the comment section, allow me to remind you of your own human foibles and suggest that you write your comment in a Word doc and revisit it tomorrow.

I can't explain precisely what happened because there is no way to do that without revealing the identity of the other person, and that would be despicable after what I've already done. But here is a super helpful overview of the thought process that led to the tragic email misfire:

1. Wow, I am so irritated.

2. Ok, this is really rude of her.

3. What did I do to deserve this?

4. I won't stand for this any longer!

5. I am going to set her straight.

See the problem?

The pivotal moment occurred between the fourth and fifth thoughts. That was when I should have pivoted directly out the front door and over to talk face to face with the person whom I believed had aggrieved me. Instead, I pivoted to Entourage on my Mac. That's because I am a coward who hid behind a computer monitor. That's also because I was lazy. And finally, it's because I was very, very stupid.

Tell them. Go ahead, tell them.

Ok, ok, so the email was to two people.

And... go on...

Well, it wasn't just one email. It was more of an ongoing email exchange with two people, and I had ample opportunity to pull it out of the fire... but instead I doused it with lighter fluid. Yep, I actually did that. Go figure.

For two days afterwards I was paralyzed. I thought, maybe this is how people suffering from Tourette Syndrome feel all the time, watching their words rush away from them like rabbits down their holes. Come back, little bunnies! Oh please come back! Then...

Engineers can send unmanned submarines to the bottom of the deepest oceans to observe and collect new forms of life, but they can't figure out a way for someone to delete their own email once it has been sent. Goddamn.

When I crowdsourced my problem to Facebook with the status update, "So, just curious... has anyone ever sent an email they regretted sending?" I got a pile-on of great responses that ranged from, "I cannot think of one that I really regret. And I have sent some pretty mercilessly straightforward posts" to "Only a few hundred!" Most people admitted to having done it at least once or twice and to learning one of life's great lessons about "sleeping on it" before sending anything written in anger. There was also some Facebook discussion about the palliative effect of cocktails in the aftermath of completely blowing it.

Lest you think I enjoy parading my foolishness before the blogosphere with no apparent inkling of the depth of my own embarrassment, let me explain my desperate quest for validation from friends and family that it was "not like me" to ambush people over Gmail. You see, I need a better reflection of myself than the one I see in the mirror at the moment. My misery also likes company, so the more people I can pull out of the woodwork to admit they too have been jerks, the better I feel! Once I got a blood transfusion in the hospital, and afterwards I felt kind of similar.

But it still really sucks.

True enough. I think that feeling of suckiness is what others would call having a conscience, which means I have not suddenly and inexplicably morphed into a sociopath.

I am so lucky to be a blogger for the Huffington Post. People pay hundreds of dollars to confess their bad behavior to therapists and I get to confess it in front of the whole world for free. Of course, you get what you pay for. Therapists always tell you that no matter what you've done, you are still a good person inside. But on the Internet, you take your chances.

So, just curious... has anyone ever sent an email they regretted sending? It's ok, you can tell me, I won't judge!

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