So I’ve been out of Florida for a week now and I do not miss it one bit.
The state, that is.
The people and certain establishments are another story.
But in general, Florida and its weather and its tourists and its traffic and its focus on money vs people can GTFO of my life.
Sorry, I am feeling quite crampy today which often bleeds over into being cranky.
And that’s okay. I do not get cranky very often at all, so please just deal with my humanness for a little bit, okay?
Now, there are some people I know who live for this, because when I’m negative and cranky and wallowing… that’s the only time I get to have actual conversations with them.
That makes me feel shitty about those friendships, let me tell you.
I could be happy and loving life and talking to them about it and I get either no response or a cursory response that honestly feels like they are just wanting me to shut up.
So I do.
HOWEVER, these same damn “friends” light the fuck up the second I complain about anything.
They won’t shut up, but when I read the words they are saying, they aren’t helpful or supportive.
They feel more like “Oh, someone is feeling bad, let me pile on top of it.”
Cause that’s what happens.
I bring up a sad thing that is happening, because these folks are my friends and I would like to commiserate with them and, oh, I dunno, get some advice or just a friendly ear or maybe even a distraction.
But no, I just get more bad things to consider. I hear horrors from their lives and hear how much worse they have it than me, like it’s a competition or something. I leave these conversations with more sadness and worry than I started with and that doesn’t feel very healthy for my brain.
So I stopped telling them bad things as much as I possibly could.
Then I realized this is basically masking to uphold a friendship.
Look, I don’t know where I’m going with this, but I know I’m really hurt when lifelong friends basically ignore my happiness and leech on to my sadness.
I don’t want to feel that way anymore, so I’m feeling my way out of it.
However that looks.
There are a couple folks in this friend group who have delighted me though. Where they were once contrarians, arguing for the sake of argument, now I’m able to have real honest conversations about the things going on in our life.
And I really think this is because I stopped participating in all the negativity spirals.
Not that I don’t want to be there for friends going through hard times… I do. That’s the point of friendships. But… when that’s all that it is and every thing I say or do is the wrong thing and they (and I) leave the conversation feeling worse… I do not feel I helped at all.
Especially when they are back complaining about that exact same thing again the next day… and the next… and the next.
It’s like Don Draper said (I am approximating words): “If you don’t like what they’re saying… change the conversation.”
So I did.
That’s not to say I don’t find myself getting pulled down into negativety whirlpools sometimes.
Here’s what’s different nowadays, though. I listen, truly listen (or read, depending on where this is taking place) offer comfort, commiseration, advice or whatever is appropriate. Then I step back, let them know that I’m there for ’em.
And then that’s it. I don’t keep the whirlpool growing, I don’t add more negative things for them to worry about. I don’t try to push the things I’d be worried about onto them.
Cause you know what that is? That’s projecting. I was so good (read: bad) at projecting for so long. Cause my brain is a real good worrier and I wanted to be sure everyone considered everything that could possibly go wrong so that they would be prepared.
So that they could have backup plans for their backup plans. Like I always did.
Ooh one of my favorite songs came on! (Yes, I am listening to ‘The Leftovers 1+2+3’, shh. I like it.)
This is the song. It is my jam. I will stop literally everything I’m doing and just take in the music. I don’t know what it’s about even. And I’m kind of afraid to look it up in case it is about something I hate.
So for now I’ll just enjoy it.
And, here’s what I feel weird talking about…
Stepping out of conversations that I would have participated in before makes me feel like a terrible friend.
I haven’t gotten up the guts yet to come out and say something like: “Hey, I’m peacing out on this conversation because I don’t understand what we are trying to accomplish here. I don’t think our misery is a competition and would like to help you find a way to not be miserable. But then as I say this I realize that you may be doing this because that is what you need in the moment. However I feel we keep repeating the exact same patterns and nothing changes. If you do not want anything to change, maybe you should find a way to talk about your life that doesn’t sound like it is the worst thing in the world.”
Because that sounds cold and mean, right? Like, how do I even say that nicely?
But if the only way you can refer to your life and the people and things you surround yourself with in a negative life, maybe you need to reconsider some things… either how you’re livin’ or how you’re talking about it.
I know for a lot of years, I forced myself to be a Pollyanna, asking people to look for the good in the worst of situations. And oof that was NOT A GOOD LOOK, because not only was I giving my friends and family bad juju and advice, I was also talking myself into staying in situations that were extremely unhealthy.
This feels different from that. I’m not blindly vomiting positive all over things.
If you complain about a bad situation to me, I don’t want to help you find the good part of it, I want to help you figure out a way to navigate it so that you’re not unhappy anymore.
Because we can absolutely figure something out. I have a big, creative imagination that does not work normally (in the best way), so I can often see solutions to problems that others would never consider.
And sometimes the simple act of talking about it with someone who won’t judge you can help your brain untangle whatever it was stuck on, whatever it needed to remedy the situation was there inside you all along.
I still feel dumb amounts of guilty for thinking these things, still, and I think that’s because I am very unused to setting boundaries for myself.
Since I’ve started though, a lot of the negative patterns of my life have fallen away. It’s so weird and good and (I know I say this a lot) I want to help as many people experience this as humanly possible.
And that’s why I do find myself staying to listen to my friend’s patterned complaints, because they listened to my pain circles for years and I’m just now finding my way out.
So, I try my best to be patient with them, because I know how difficult it is to face these things in solitude. How scary it is to start setting boundaries, not knowing who will stick around and who will leave.
But at the same token, if you are at your limit and just need someone to bitch to who will listen and make BravoTV level wisecracks, I am ABSOLUTELY your girl. Just warn me up front that’s what you need in the moment.
But you get one session per topic. No repeats, or we’ll start looking for solutions together, okay?