Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Bag Lady considers some shortcomings

There is a sadness in me this week. One of my friendships has ended suddenly and I am doing some grieving. It has been many years since I've lost a friend this way. Usually I move away, or they do, or our interests change, or our jobs. I have friends I've known for decades, but since I've moved frequently in my life (I think I'm living in my 49th house) they do not live close by. Mostly I keep in touch through Facebook. I have several friends I see for lunch or coffee every few months, and I thrive within those conversational connections.

Of course, I'm thinking about this current ending and wondering what I might have done differently.   As is usually the case, I've got some character traits that kick my butt now and then. Here is my true confession:
  • I am usually an optimistic, upbeat person. I tend to take people at their word. I haven't gotten burned often enough to change my approach to life and trust a little less. So I go further down the road of uncomfortable situations because of my tendency to be gullible.  
  • I am assertive and direct. Sometimes to a fault. I rarely intend to hurt people with what I say, but sometimes the words that come out of my mouth astonish even me. And sometimes I don't realize the impact my words have had on other people. I can remember hurting people's feelings 40 years ago with things I said. In conflict situations, though, my directness often vanishes and I get downright wishy-washy.  I've yet to master the magic of diplomacy. I can do it as a mediator, but not as myself.  
  • I expect people to behave the way I would in similar circumstances. For example, if I make an agreement I will keep it even if it's to my own detriment. I'm not tolerant of others who don't. This one bites me frequently - not the keeping an agreement part, but my expectation that others will behave as I do. I've been told I have high standards for other people's behavior. It's not a compliment.
  • I am what's called an external processor: I think out loud. When there's a disagreement or misunderstanding between me and another person, I want to sit down and talk it out right now. This doesn't sit well with people who need to process silently, in their own time. My husband Art and I often postpone the resolution of a conflict for 24 hours. By that time he will have had a chance to think about his position, and I may have forgotten what the problem was! 
  • Sometimes things happen for no apparent reason. I always look for a reason anyway. I tire myself out. 
No one is perfect, and for the most part I'm content with the person I am. Every now and then, though, in disappointing situations, I wonder what would have happened if I'd been a little different.

13 comments:

Olga Hebert said...

Yes, we are all works in progress. And everything happens for a reason, so I am sure you will glean the lesson in this particular loss.

DJan said...

As an extrovert, I've learned to realize how much my out-ness can bother some introverted people. Perhaps that's part of what happened with this friendship, Linda. I've been where you are now, and it does hurt. Sending you a virtual hug.

Debbie V. said...

I recognize myself in all your descriptions, except for the high standards for other people. I guess I've been hurt one to many times to expect that. Now I don't exactly expect the worst in people, but I'm not shocked if it happens.
One time, decades ago, I had a boss who critiqued me with "you want to have everybody like you and that's not good". I got pretty miffed, but over the years I've thought about this a lot and still do.
I find it challenging enough to just be me - the real me - that if someone doesn't like it I just move on. I use to spend so much time trying to fix the relationship when someone didn't like me or something I chose to do. Now I just focus on the friends that love me the way I am.

rosaria williams said...

Ah, we are all different, and even friends can't get us the way we wish they could. Time may change things though, and with time, misunderstandings can disappear or fester even worse. Good luck.

Contrarian said...

Laughter through the tears Linda - you made me chuckle as usual. :)

dkzody said...

Your self-description reminds me of a long time "friend" who says whatever she is thinking and often hurts peoples' feelings. I have had to go along behind her and make amends. She means what she says, but she doesn't mean it to hurt. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but it is the way she is. She sees herself as very goodhearted and kind. Others see her as abrasive. Sometimes we really need to reflect on our behaviors and how they effect others and how we would like to be treated in the situation.

973faae4-41e5-11e4-a61e-47818ca5c1e7 said...

I am struggling with the same issue. I realize I hang on too long and need to let things go. In letting go, I have to accept that the friend and I bonded over certain issues, but in other ways we are opposites. It is painful and we will be acquaintances, but the distances and basic values are far apart.

Pam said...

Linda, if your former friend was not open to discussing your issues and rebuilding your relationship, then there's not much you can do. I've learned (the hard way) that it takes two people who are willing to give and forgive in order for a friendship to work. Sorry for this loss.

Rian said...

IMO, being a friend means you accept each other (virtues as well as faults). If you know each other well enough, you know that whatever happened was not intended to hurt. And if it was intended to hurt, then perhaps you weren't really friends.
Maybe too simplistic, but it works for me.

Retired English Teacher said...

I'm sorry that you lost a friend, but you gained insight. I'd say that is a good exchange. When a friendship goes bad without the issues being discussed, I always figure that the friendship wasn't what I thought it was. I hope your friend reads this and see her own flaws. You have been honest about yours.

I had a strange experience with a new friend recently. She called me and pursued friendship. Once I sat aside one day a month to spend writing with her, she dropped me cold and said she was too busy to even say "hi" on the phone. She said she might have time to talk in the fall. That was in early spring. I thought I probably would write that "friendship" off, but the entire thing was quite odd. I now wonder if I said something, did something, didn't do something. Who knows?

Cynthia from Shoreline said...

I also, like others have said, recognize myself in each of your behavioral descriptions. Now that I have qualified as an equal, may I comment?

I can never again say that something happened because I am "gullible". It's like someone saying they have achieved humility. Saying it cancels it out. Truly gullible people don't know they are gullible. To me, it is an excuse. I get to be gullible only once. Cant use it anymore ;-)

I have to be watchful that I do not allow the abusers of my past to sneak in and use the Tenth Step as a glorified beating stick. S10 is a wonderful tool for identifying my part in a transgression, but it, to my understanding, is not designed to help me save face post-event. I believe its best use is to prevent me from saying that i had no part in a situation. Of course I did, [this] was my part. Now move on.

I picked the wrong book off my secondary reading shelf yesterday. I meant to grab one of my fall textbooks to get an early jump on studying but oh damn, I picked up The Companion Book to The Four Agreements. Out pops:

Do not take anything personally. What others say you are is merely their projection of their own internalized processes. It is not the truth. I can choose to adopt it into my thinking, or let them have their say and move on. It's like disagreeing over whether the color blue is better than green - a purely subjective point and good only for killing time at a bus stop. Same goes with other people's perceptions.

I even did the writing exercises in the little book. The cable was out, meh.

I like that you say what is on your mind. I think what they call 'diplomacy' is actually just dressed up BS & manipulation and no better than a straight out con. It just wears fancier shoes and takes a shower.

Love you.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Sorry the friendship ended badly. I think it's a good thing to be willing to accept some blame. When we are humble enough to acknowledge our own part in a situation, it's good for the people we interact with, and for our own growth. But we'll never know what might have happened if we'd done something a different way. All we can ever do is try to do better next time.

Deb Shucka said...

I love how reflective you are, and how well you know yourself. I'm sure others have said this before me, but as far as the friendship - a true friend would know all that you've mentioned and love you both because and in spite of those things. I'm sorry for your loss, but you are doing the one thing we can to turn loss into growth - using it to look deeper into yourself.