There Is Something Wrong With You

I am BetterI think most people have had a friend/acquaintance act like this when they’re explaining how someone’s behaviour has offended them:

YOU: …and that’s why I was upset with Jon today because I felt that was really rude.

ACQUAINTANCE: Jon is always really nice to me.

YOU: That’s…good. I just feel that he often does things like this and I’d like it to stop.

ACQUAINTANCE: I’ve never had a problem with him. He even offered me cookies in the hall just now.

YOU: I think I will talk to him about it.

ACQUAINTANCE: I don’t know what I’ve done right but he’s always just really liked me.

I have to be clear that I do not need people to commiserate with me if I’m experiencing a problem with someone. In fact, I know that just breeds more ill feelings and, while I may feel justified if my friend raptly agrees with me, I actually end up feeling more knotted up. The thing that is irritating about the “I never have that problem” response is that your friend is making themselves out to be better than you. They are saying that, clearly, there is something wrong with you if you are having this problem. Or that there may be something wrong with everybody else, but that they are special because they don’t have that problem. Or that they just plain don’t believe your interpretation of the problem.

Don’t be that person. Let your friend vent and then respond as if you care. There’s no need to further trash the individual in question, but show that you are mindful about your friend’s well being and happiness. It’s good to tactfully offer other explanations for the culprit’s behaviour, but responding with a comment that puts your friend on a different rung of the human hierarchy is just insensitive. Nobody wants to confide in someone like that.

Just because you know a person in a given way does not mean everyone will experience that person in the same fashion. Acting out of a good spirit certainly means standing up for others if you feel they have been unjustly portrayed, however you don’t need to make yourself out to be better than others to do so.

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The Friends Who Keep You From Being Lame

LamePeople start veering into lame once they start having kids. They don’t stay out late, they have to arrange weeks in advance to see friends, they won’t have a glass of wine because they have to get up early the next day, and they just don’t want to go out as much. I always find it strange and remarkable when people with children are the opposite of this – when they go out as much as they used to before kids. Age certainly has something to do with it, but I think too it’s just that we start scaling down our social lives unnecessarily after we’ve procreated.

Obviously there is a lot to be said for just being tired. I always brag that my kid would be a gold medalist in the Sleeping Olympics, but I can certainly appreciate how children just tire you out so that when you actually do get free time you’re hardly up for going out; you just want to sit on the couch. Although I have a pretty calm child, I never, ever just sit down on the couch and do my own thing during the day. Ever. And that’s saying something because there are a lot of hours in the day, and what can these little humans possibly need that keeps you moving so much?

I’ve never been super energetic about going out, but I admit I like that I have the excuse of a child to keep me at home sometimes. However, I think parents have to be careful to keep their friendships thriving, particularly with those who do not have kids. I always think, if one day I cannot have a stimulating conversation with my dear sophisticated friends who I have known for decades, who have no children, live a very cosmopolitan lifestyle and can make conversation about anything, then I’ve really lost it and I’ve become a supremely boring person. In other words, have more going on in your life than just your kids and your marriage. Everyone will be happier.

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People Are Weird About Talking

TALKING ABOUT SUCKY THINGS2There’s an episode of Sex and the City where Carrie’s boyfriend breaks up with her on a post-it and she gets angry over the cowardice. She says, “Most women aren’t angry, irrational psychos. We just want an ending to a relationship that is thoughtful and decent and honors what we had together.” So very true! How often has a man claimed that a woman is crazy? Women aren’t crazy, we just require communication. And I think men do, too.

Like Carrie said, there is a good way to tell someone something hurtful. Avoiding the situation entirely is just a really bad idea.

A friend once asked me if I wanted people to ask me how I was doing after a particularly difficult time in my life last year. She wondered if it was insensitive to mention the situation at all given that it had surely caused me a lot of pain.

Here’s the thing: when people go through something bad, they need to know that those around them care. This doesn’t mean they will necessarily want to talk about it, nor do they necessarily want pity. What they want is consideration for their hard time and concern for their well-being. No one likes to feel un-cared for, and if everyone just makes like nothing happened it can feel like no one gives a shit about you.

Here’s what you do if you’re unsure: tell the person that you’re thinking of them, or that you’re there for them if they need anything. That’s it. If the person wants to bring you in, they will. If not, they will at least feel loved. They will not resent you just for bringing it up.

What I’m saying is, the worst thing you can do to a person is ignore a bad thing that’s happened to them. It tells them they don’t matter. Don’t let something uncomfortable turn you into an asshole.

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I’m Happy For You

JealousAre you really? Or is there a small piece of your heart that sinks to your gut when you hear my news? Do you justify that sinking feeling by telling yourself that my news is not good, not smart, not socially responsible, or not financially sound?

Maybe you want to have the same news. Or any good news.

I caught myself doing exactly this. I have to watch it because life has a way of bringing things full circle based on the attitude you put out there. Are you really well off, don’t work, but take all the credit for what you have? Did you get pregnant immediately after ditching the pill? Did you get that fantastic job even though I know you’re not that talented? Did your parents leave you a massive inheritance but you talk as if you earned the money yourself? Does your kid get to go to private school? Did your husband do something super thoughtful and you are super vocal about how great he is? Did you pick the absolute right stock at random?

I think very few people deal with that sinking feeling, I think most of them believe the justification. Shame.

Be happy for people. It’s good for you.

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I Doubt It

DoubtingI doubt myself. Life rarely offers you a package that fits perfectly into your circumstances. This is especially true the older you get. I think that’s because as you age you take on more responsibility, you have more issues, you have a story, you have circumstances – aspects that just don’t exist to that degree in your youth. Those elements make every decision that much more important.

When you’re young you can better afford to fly by the seat of your pants, try new things, be stupid and take risks. You can even do that in relationships because time does wonders to heal the heart so there’s lots of time to get past brokenness.

Getting more experience in life means you either understand things better, or you’ve just had more time to get a complex about stuff. Usually it’s both, though I hope I am not one of those people who has no self-reflection and can’t see how I’m becoming more anal, scared, unreasonable, illogical or closed by the minute. That is enormously unattractive and it ages you. The people who stand out the most as they get older are those who have an uncanny joy about them. And joy comes from taking life’s crap and learning from it instead of becoming bitter and closing in.

I have made decisions about things that I am extremely double-minded about. In the past year, I have been on the fence about many things. I always think you know what the best is deep down, at your core, or in your spirit. But sometimes, both Option A and Option B feel right. In those circumstances I think you have to try both until things become clear. I’m rarely confused, so being so unsure is unsettling for me. Not to harp on Christians (as I know I often do), but they are quick to judge anyone in this unsettled position, thinking that the person is just not listening to God. You know, sometimes God just doesn’t speak to you. Did you know that, Christians? Maybe not knowing the answer for a time serves a person better.

So I guess what I’m saying is it’s okay to doubt yourself. It shows you’re evaluating things from all sides, which people often don’t do. In which case, I congratulate myself.

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Flirting With Cops

I’m flirty like anyone else, I suppose, in that I have on occasion used my feminine wiles to get what I wanted. But I think I’ve learned when to let it loose, and when to reel it in. Otherwise, you’re displaying all your goods inappropriately or toward someone who is clearly uncomfortable.

Take my Sunday speeding incident. I was racing down the highway at 8:30 in the morning, trying to get to church on time. I hate being late for things, especially church because then you can’t get a good seat and then it’s easier to let the mind wander. So, of course I get pulled over. The man was older, and gruff. He really lit into me about being irresponsible with my “precious cargo” (aka my daughter), at which point I started to tear up. He barked, “Do I have to remind you how unsafe you were being with that little girl back there?” I shook my head, no, my eyes wide and wet. “Do you even have a driver’s licence?” he snapped. I nodded yes (maybe blubbering like an idiot makes you appear younger) and produced my card. “Which part of all those signs back there did you not like? Do you know you were in the excessive zone? That’ll cost you $360 and I’ll give you another for making a sloppy lane change. Is that worth it now?” I looked down at my lap and shook my head again. I honestly almost never speed. “Where were you going so fast anyway?” he yelled. I paused several beats, then answered, “Church.”

He eyed me, I think a bit taken aback that I would try that. I opened my palms upward and shrugged my shoulders a little. I think we could both appreciate the irony. After a pregnant pause, like he was considering what to do with me, he snarled, “You’re getting a warning for this run around, and I want you to think real hard about what you’re doing with that little one in the back. Do you hear?” I nodded and looked away, my tears set to betray me. I didn’t want to push my luck. “Have a good day,” he finished and sauntered back to his cruiser.

I could hardly get control of myself as I pulled back onto the highway with excessive caution. My daughter was perfectly silent for fifteen minutes. Later that day she asked, “Mommy, why were you speeding?” Because speeding plus crying plus religiosity equals ridiculous.

So what was my point? Ah yes, I ended up doing what most women typically do to get out of tickets, without even trying. So, is it flirting if my efforts produce a slobbery, unappealing mess in lieu of a desirably distraught woman?

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Taylor Swift Is A Wise Woman

So she has this song “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and I am very impressed. This girl is, what? Twenty-two? I wish I had had her insight at that age. There’s one line that says “I’m really gonna miss you picking fights, And me, falling for it screaming that I’m right”. I didn’t know picking fights was a go-to code of conduct for the emotionally incapable. See, what these people do is exactly that: pick a fight, say something mean or anything to get you going. Then, expecting exactly the reaction they receive, they are perversely satisfied. Because they have to be pissed off at something, and you’re an easy target.

I’m not sure what gets these people off. Why would you want to have a fight or hurt someone? I’m a pretty passionate gal, but I don’t enjoy fights. The thing is, people like this are so pissed off at themselves they have to direct that onto someone else. Then, when they snag you into having a fight they can say to themselves, “See? This is why I’m angry. It’s THIS person’s fault.”

The thing is, you react in indignation “screaming that you’re right” because you feel the need to show the other person the illogic of their position. And what an immature person doesn’t realize is that the person picking the fight does not care about logic, nor can they recognize it.

What fight-pickers don’t realize is that even if there is a thorn in your side, a legitimate ongoing hurt for which no one would fault you for having a hard time, your happiness is solely up to you. You choose whether you’re going to treat people in love or not. If someone calls you an idiot every single morning, you can choose to get hurt by it or you can choose to be happy in spite of it. If your spouse screws off, you have a choice to forgive that person and not let it ruin your life, or be fearful of being in another relationship. Even if someone kills your loved one, you still have a choice. Your choice is just harder.

I’m not making light of true challenges. However, if you’re picking fights with people just because you feel discontent, you’re just proving you’re not a strong person. And for that, you deserve to be pitied.

Taylor Swift has it right, and I congratulate her for learning that lesson more than a decade before me. Silly.

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