Monday, August 27, 2007

Growth and change

I've been thrown for a loop recently. You'll no doubt be surprised that it made me somewhat loopy.

Oh. Perhaps that happened long before the aforementioned recent events. ;-)

I had a nascent friendship flop like a dead fish on the deck of my life. Pretty picture, eh? Yeah, well, words fail me when friendship fails me. Or when I fail in a friendship, which is how I tend to interpret events. It must be my fault because, after all, it's all about me.

Whether or not that's a realistic life view, it certainly can be an instructional one. If it's all my fault, then I can figure out what I did wrong. I can fix it. I can make it all better. Puts me back into control, where I so long to be. Ha.

So I've been doing autopsies of several failed friendships over the past 15 years. Yes, overanalysis is my middle name. But why not analyze? Why not figure how to do a better job next time around? Saves me and any potential friends some pain, maybe. Also lets me intellectualize instead of feel bad, a plus in my book. ;-)

What did I do that caused this friendship to flop in such a smelly and sad way? Let us count the ways.

I leap into intimacy too soon. My attitude? Life's short. Really getting to know people is fun. I love to dive into a friendship when I feel like someone is an Anne Shirley kindred spirit kind of person. For some people, my approach is quirky and pleasant and enjoyable. For some people, my approach is presumptuous and odd and invasive. Moral of that story? Either be more respectful of others boundaries--or don't try to make friends with those who aren't comfortable with your boundaries.

Next? I tend to be a little too black and white. All or nothing. One way this shows up in friendships is either I stay in close contact--or I never call, email, write . . . . Some find the latter, while not endearing, understandable given my baggage. They accept it, even if they don't like it, because they like me. And others find it unforgivably rude, and don't like me. At all.

Likewise, some find staying in close, even, daily contact endearing. They tell me to call more, write more, email more! While others find it claustrophobic and wish I'd figure out what the phrase "personal space" means on an emotional level. Moral of that story? Everyone has different wants and needs. If your behavior doesn't meet another's wants or needs, either change your behavior (if it's worth it to keep that person in your life) or find a new friend (if you can't--or won't--change).

Finally, I was up front about my peculiar neediness. A lovely facet of my personality is that if you hurt my feelings, I will tell you. Not in a particularly hysterical way, of course. Just a matter of fact, hey, this happened and I felt bad. I try to make it clear that I'm not looking for an apology. Hell, if there's fault to be had, it's probably mine. But I like to keep the air clean and clear. I sense disapproval a mile away. I'm a veritable Princess and the Pea of hidden conflict. It makes me so uncomfortable that I have to confront it.

Yes, that's right. I hate conflict so much that sometimes I cause it. It seems the lesser of two evils to me, and has made my life so much freer. I can't live any other way than to keep things open.

For me, if I air little grievances, they stay mosquito bite-like. Bug me a bit, itchy, then they disappear, never to return. If I suck it up and push down my feelings, they fester, tending to come back and bite me--or someone else. But others feel differently. Some think minor grievances shouldn't be aired because they are, well, minor! Get a life and move on. Certainly an understandable--and quite laudable--approach to life. Probably one full of great mental health. Just not mine.

Moral of that story?
Some things are non-negotiable. Each of us has to negotiate our own perilous path to mental health and well-being. It's sad when those paths don't intersect well. Friendships that might have been are lost. But it's not the end of the world.
I keep telling myself that new friends will come. And I know that old friends are cherished.

Last thought? An over-arching theme that I'm trying to plug into my life, in the wake of being so upset about the loss of this particular friendship. Someone wise posited to me (and others) that when we care too much about what others think, it's a form of idolatry. Why? Because who or what we fear becomes God, operationally. We let that person (or thing) become the boss of us, the Maypole around which we fashion our lives.

I'm still ruminating on this one and what it means for me. Perhaps I'll be here, chewing my cud on the topic tomorrow. Or maybe I'll have to chew up Alberto Gonzales . . . .



Blogger Suna said...

As you know, I have similar thoughts, very similar, often. This is something that gnaws on me and I can't stop trying to figure out--what did I do to make so and so not like me? As I said elsewhere, I did finally learn to truly internalize that it might well have to do with the other person's issues as well as me.

Anyway, somehow it's comforting to know I am not alone.

6:14 AM  

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