instruction manual needed
October 3, 2006
I have never had a lot of friends. I am pretty wary when it comes to letting people in, trusting people, sharing more of myself than the superficial pleasantries. I am really good at the superficial small talk stuff.
It takes awhile for me to build trust, to call someone a friend.
I am a loyal friend. I never talk about someone behind their back or share intimate details of their life that are not public knowledge. I never talk about someone to make myself feel more important, or put someone else down to make myself feel better. My motto is that you can never say too little about another person.
I have discovered the hard way that other people don’t feel this way.
The same people who pretended to be happy to my face when I was pregnant with my last child were the ones who were saying not so nice things behind my back. And wasn’t it so nice of the person who took it upon themself to tell me what they were all saying at the birthday party?
Also, I seem to attract people who are a) really needy and/or b) thrive on putting me down to make themselves feel better. So I end up becoming friends with people who want to talk to me on the phone everyday, unload all of their problems to me daily, and put me down.
here is an example of a conversation:
Her: [her son] had a cavity at his check up. I can’t believe it.
Me: Well, kids get cavities sometimes. I don’t think it should upset you that much.
Her: Oh yeah, coming from you that should make me feel better…
Her: The dentist loves to see you coming.
Me: (thinking what the fuck does that mean): What?
Her: Your kids always have cavities. Not like you can take care of all their teeth.
Me: (thinking why do I even need to defend myself) No they don’t and yes I do.
By the same token, fuck with me once and you are out. I accept apologies, when they are given. I will remain civil, even friendly to someone who has hurt me and apologized. But they are never back in again like they were before. Never. I just can’t do it. I am a master grudge holder.
My husband thinks I am overly sensitive. And maybe I am. But when someone says something mean to me or does something knowingly to hurt my feelings, I can’t help but replay it in my mind over and over again. It does sometimes take on a life of it’s own and gain greater importance than it originally had. And perhaps this is a sign of my own brand of crazy, that I can never let anything go.
Likewise when I know that I have hurt someone I replay it in my mind and beat myself up over it. I still think about things that I did when I was a child, like the time I was about 7 or 8 yrs old and I called my neighbor friend Fatty Patty in one of those stupid little sing song voices to hurt her feelings. She went home and told her mother who came over to my yard, slapped me across the face, and called me a little bitch. I never until this very moment considered how inappropriate it was for the mother to behave that way to me. But regardless I have spent 30 years obsessing over my part in that incident.
One of the things that I think is important to instill in my children is the fact that when they tear another person down, they are bringing themself down too. When you talk about someone in a negative way, people will probably forget what it was you were so intent on gossiping about, but they will remember that you are the type of person who gossips and makes disparaging remarks about friends. The type of person who can not be trusted. Is that that the sort of person you really want to be?
At least that is what I have always thought, though it doesn’t seem like everyone else does. There are times when I think I am operating by one instruction manual for life and everyone else has a new updated version.
Do I expect too much from people?
I wonder sometimes if the friendships I have made via the internet have spoiled me from having real life friendships. For all the talk of the wackos that flock to the internet, I have found some of the best friends here. The people who are the most real, the most authentic, the least judgemental. Wackos are apparently my kind of people.
Recently I made the decision to distance myself from people who were sucking me down into that vortex of feeling bad. On the one hand I feel like I should miss them more than I do… and on the other hand I now have no one that I could pretend is a friend. And that makes me sad.
Other people seem to make friends so easily. They have great big groups of friends to do things with and I can’t help but wonder what I am doing wrong.