Monday, November 7, 2011

As I walked by myself.

As I walked by myself,
And talked to myself,
Myself said unto me,
Look to thyself,
Take care of thyself,
For nobody cares for thee.

Am I a difficult person to understand? Am I generally clear in my words and conversations? Do I speak in riddles or have a sarcastic humor that can easily be taken the wrong way? ok maybe yes on that one...

At least the first two - I never thought so, until now.  I also didn't really consider myself to be someone who is a delicate flower that wilts at the first sign of pressure. Nor do I consider myself to be overly concerned with the opinions of others so long as I know I am well. 

Perhaps all that is true, but yesterday I found myself apparently on the wrong end of a conversation.  Now, I am a part of several online boards, three to be exact.  One for each child.  So these boards are full of approx. 40 woman each that I have known for 6, 4 and 1 year. Now I don't expect to be loved and cherish by all the woman on all these boards and to be perfectly honest, I don't love and cherish all the woman myself - but yesterday there was a misunderstanding on one of them.  Thankfully the woman came to me privately instead of creating unneeded drama on the public forum - but she was deeply insulted by a comment I had made that was taken entirely wrong. So wrong that the meaning I had intended was not even on the scope of how she had taken it and I was so shocked to get a hostile email about a comment that had nothing entirely to do with what I thought I had said...apparently I was wrong. I found myself on the verge of tears as I read a letter that ripped me up one side and down the other.  Telling me I was being rude, sticking my nose where it does not belong and judging something that had nothing to do with me...and wrongly accusing me of being rude and judgmental to a number of other woman as well. Also not true - at least I have never intended to be...

What do I do with an email such as this? I can see where she miss-understood me. Perhaps I should have been more clear, perhaps I should have made no comment at all (how much chaos would we avoid by simply keeping our mouths shut?) But taken aback and hurt I found myself becoming defensive. I did my best to be polite, apologized, explained that was not my intent. Sadly I could not leave it there and sent another message saying THIS is how I had meant the comment. Explaining in detail my not so funny joke.

Why do we get defensive?  Is being misunderstood so terrible a thing? Perhaps my confused friend is reading this now and finding my thoughts on the matter entertaining? Offensive? I don't seem to know anymore. Sadly my defensiveness was catching.  She wrote back saying it was not just her, she had gotten 3 texts from 3 different people moments after I had made the comment.  And apparently she had asked me to clarify and since I had gotten off the computer for the day considered my lack of reply to be me avoiding the issue, further rudeness. 

This letter crushed me. For one, I now know that she texts with these other woman. A close relationship I have never had with them. So now I have discovered that I am not the good friend I had assumed myself to be. There is a circle of which I am on the outside. Furthermore, these 3 other woman went to her first talking about how rude I was instead of asking me what was up with that comment.  AND apparently I really did say something that although I thought it was innocent enough, really was a terrible thing to say when taken another way.

Am I over thinking this?

I was home schooled, therefore I did not have to deal with getting a thick skin when it comes to the insulting things other "kids" can say. I have never before been bullied, at least not by someone who I thought I could confide in. 

Now I will say to her credit she messaged me in private, she apologized for unnecessarily taking offense, thanked me for apologizing and I believe we have both moved on. Had she said to me what she thought I had said, I would have been upset too. So there was reason behind it all. And for now, I do believe for us both it is over and done with.

So why am I still dwelling on this? I wrote, after she said there were others that had mis-understood me that it concerned me that people had been talking on this without asking me. Perhaps it was my jealousy at finding out I am not a part of the cool crowd. I am not pleased to be the subject of gossip, but perhaps it is my fault that I often go 24 hours without being online so I really can't be one of the popular ones...and since they don't text me they have no way to clear it up.  But when I voiced my concern I got a letter back telling me in no simple words that this was not worth my concern and worrying so much as I had about what other people think of me, is unhealthy.

Now, most of you reading this know me. I am honest, I am cocky, I am direct, I am a little rough around the edges. I don't mince words, I don't flatter unless I REALLY believe it, I love deeply, I don't like hugs (except from my husband and children) I strive for respect and I don't take trust and friendship lightly.  I cannot tell you how many people have told me "when I first met you I thought you hated me." This bothers me, I have worked to fix it and I think I mostly have. But never, has anyone ever told me that I am weak, no one has ever told me I need more self-esteem (usually the opposite!) no one has ever told me that I think to much of what others think of me.  But then who would really say these things? Honestly it would be pretty rude of THEM (aside from a beloved friend or spouse - both of which I have and they have not said these things).  So how would I know?

So I had to ask myself, do I worry too much? Has other people's approval become more important to me then it used to be? Is my rough exterior just a mask hiding my inner coward huddled in the corner of me, just waiting for someone to come and crush it to smithereens?

Honestly?

Yes, I think to a certain degree that is true. I have become less sure of myself as life is harder then it used to be and sometimes I fail miserably. I am not around adults all that often and have lost some natural tact simply because I am out of practice. I am in dire need of friends and they are harder to come by. I am exhausted most of the time so it is hard to have a quick wit, and yes - I have the desire not to hurt those around me so I am more careful, and grieve when I have again failed miserably at this. Yes, I care. I care what those I love think about me and I forever strive to better myself.  And you know what? I think this is a good thing.

Yesterday I had trouble focusing because my mind was trying to figure out what had gone wrong in all those conversations. Today I have hardly thought twice of it (aside from writing this all out of course). I have always done this, when something has me frustrated or grieved I will give myself a day.  For one day I can be useless, I can obsess, I can cry.  But once the sun goes down and up again and a new day has begun I am done. It is over and behind me. Today I can analyze, I can look at it without the emotion. And today I can laugh. I am still so very sorry it happened, I hope all is well on the part of my friend and she feels alright. I will not write anymore emails. All has been said that needs to be said. I will distance myself from the group a bit, just for a while to clear my head but I will return.  Tomorrow I will be more careful, I have learned a lesson I will not soon forget.  Perhaps I will do better at keeping my mouth shut from now on?

I answered myself,
And said to myself,
In the self-same repartee,
Look to thyself,
Or not to thyself,
The self-same thing will be.

2 comments:

  1. As a person who shared a bedroom with you for 3 years and known you for 11, I can vouch that your view of yourself is accurate. You ARE a person who is strong (internally, emotionally, often physically!), honest, and direct. None of those are bad things in the least! People can be mean, and feelings can easily be hurt, even if they are unintentional. I've done it WAY too many times the past few years with people I care deeply about. Learn from this experience, but please, PLEASE don't let it change who you are as a person! I love you just the way you are, "rough-around-the-edges" and all! :)

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  2. I love you Joanne! We need to talk more often. I'm very glad you like me, rough around the edges, terrible spelling and grammar, honest, direct and all.

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