Monday, July 5, 2010

Having the Last Word

Monday, July 5, 2010.....

I believe it's human nature for people to have the last word in any heated conversation or argument and I think it starts when we were kids. Seriously, I remember babysitting and putting my neighbor's son to bed and he just kept screaming and throwing tantrums because he wanted me to know he wasn't happy with me. I quickly realized, if I tried to quiet him down, he'd become twice as vocal. I guess you'd say this is when I learned the power of walking away.

As an adult, I've sometimes forgotten this lesson, but recently remembered how valuable it is to walk away from a situation. Actually, this is the 2nd time I can remember where the desired result was far more important than getting in the last word.

The first time was shortly after my separation. I reconnected with someone from my childhood. He found me through (prior to facebook), and we started exchanging emails. The emails were comforting at the time and I was surprised at all the stuff he remembered from our childhood.

What I did was selfish. I found comfort in emails with a married man. I thought them to be only words exchanged by friends. It took months for me to see the email exchanges probably meant more to him and let's just say our last exchange of words wasn't an exchange, but just an angry man trying to get my attention and get me to interact.

At the time, I was in therapy and discussed how uncomfortable I was with the situation. My therapist told me not to respond, but knew I was the type to respond if someone was hurting. She also told me most people need to have the last word. Funny thing is that I knew if I responded, he take it as a positive sign -- possibly thinking they'd be more to this friendship and there wasn't.

So, I stopped all communication and walked away because my desired result was more important than getting in the last word.

Fast forward.....

It's been years since the desired result is far more important than getting in the last word. But it recently happened again.

When I first separated (note: 1st year after my separation/divorce, I approached life differently. It was harder for me to make decisions and appreciated strong personalities in my life) I formed a friendship with a person who is an amazingly strong person. She knows who she is, adventurous, intelligent, but can also sometimes be an unknowing bully or refuse to hear a person if their thoughts/opinions/needs differ. I was amenable to her suggestions of what to do, where to go, etc.. To this day, I appreciate her being there for me. However, most everything was on her terms and my voice somehow got lost. I approach things differently and I'm not sure if she heard me or could understand me, but her solution to my problems wasn't how I operated.

It's no secret that being unemployed has been a hard struggle for me the past 2 years and when I'm stressed or depressed I retreat. I pack up the troops and stay to myself. Others need people around. I respect that. But that is not me.

My friend needs people around her and was worried about me. For awhile, I felt smothered with phone calls from her and just stopped answering the calls. Finally, I sent an email to apologize and explain how I operate when stressed. This was in February.

Last week she responded to my email. For the most part, it was a sympathetic email except for one line. One line where she turned my situation around and made me feel guilty for how I handle stress. She likes to have friends and family around and for years went through a difficult time and I was there to listen.

I'm annoyed and just want to scream: MY STRESS, MY DEPRESSION ARE NOT ABOUT YOU.

I had YogaGirl and another gf read my original email and her response to see if I was nuts for overreacting. I thought about writing back and allaying her fears that it wasn't her, that she is a great friend, but I thought screw it (okay, after several people told me to walk away). I realize my first email clearly explained how I stay to myself and it wasn't personal and she just needs to read the email again. I also have to wonder, why did it take her 4 months to respond. Clearly she received an email from a friend in pain and instead of sending a short note the NEXT DAY to say I'm sorry you're struggling, just know I'm here if you need me, I got crickets.

I don't think explaining it again will change the situation. I think it will just open the doorway to a relationship where someone doesn't get me or want to because I handle things other than the way she would, so I'm just walking away with no last word.


The Vegetable Assassin said...

I think people are who and how they are and personality wise, they don't change all that much. Someone used to getting the last word or their own way will pretty much always be that way. We all know them. The only thing I find you can do is exactly what you have done - ignore it. Don't respond. Don't rise to the bait of getting embroiled in an argument and don't get riled. Just shrug, know the truth and leave it at that.

Jesus christ, it's annoying though, isn't it? :)

J.J. said...

I also like to be by myself when going through a stressful time...unless you can be the type of person who can just "be" with me. I don't need advice (unless I ask for it), or a sympathetic ear (unless I start talking on my own). I only need someone when their presence soothes me - like my mom, or my man. Having the last word usually isn't worth the hassle because some people internalize it and think, "Boy, are YOU selfish."

Brian Miller said...

some deep wisdom there. walking away can free us of so much but we tend to atttach and cling...and make excuses...and good job own that interaction with the old friend...and bringing it to a close...

otin said...

Oh it is very hard to walk away without the last word because it almost feels like you are giving in! But, someone has to walk away, so you might as well be the one.

Princess Stupidhead said...

I believe there are no accidents, so I guess I would just try to listen to what's being said (or rather, not said) by "your friend" and do what you feel is best for you now.

In my experience there are people who will be your friend as long as you stay the one without the problems and you stay the one who listens to their problems. When the roles change, the relationship ends. That is not a real friendship.

Your priority right now is to heal yourself. You don't have energy to spare on this person right now. Maybe later, maybe not.

DB said...

You did the right thing. And the fact that you realize that sometimes not having the last word is the right path to take - priceless.

hot hot hot hot hot hot

Jane said...

It really sucks that you had to walk away from your friendship. I'm sorry. I think you did the right thing. I'm glad you found the strength to do that.

Jewels Diva® said...

I got a couple of things from your post.

1 - when you're stressed you become needy, relying on other people to help you through and be a comfort. Unfortunately, they may react badly, or make it all about them. Which is also bad. Your therapist is the best person to talk to, has clearly helped and there is nothing wrong with seeing one. I have!

2 - your friends take things VERY differently to you. The guy you reconnected with, clearly was after something else and not JUST friendship. Your female friend that took 4 months to get back to you. Selfish bitch whose world is all about her.

Advice - ALWAYS make your intentions/thoughts/feelings clear in the beginning. You believe you did that with your friend and yet she took it differently to how you meant it.

That's HER thing to deal with. You cannot change a person and not everyone will see or feel the way you do.

That IS human nature.

We all live in our own world, running our own life, dealing with our own shit.

Have you thought about it from their point of view. Clearly they wanted or needed something else from you and that's not what you were offering.

All I can say is seriously think about how you want to run your own life, what you will and won't tolerate, and then be upfront with everyone. Be as clear and precise as possible, and then if they don't get it, you don't need them in your life.

May seem harsh, but sometimes walking away IS the best thing to do.

New England Girl said...

Walking away at times really is the best lesson one can learn. But it's so hard, isn't it? You want the other person to understand, while also feeling that you don't need to, nor should you, explain yourself. I've been in similar situations many times. Like you, I retreat. I'm not one to talk and surround myself with tons of people; I like to think things through on my own and figure out my moods by myself -- many friends don't understand this, nor do they try. It's tough to explain and it is even tougher to continue to be close to them.

I'm sorry your friend was still trying to bully you, whether subtly or not, and I am SO happy you didn't allow yourself to feed into it.

jane said...

it took me 40 years to learn to walk away... it seems to me you are way ahead :)

TechnoBabe said...

Your way of having the last word is to have no word. Sounds like it is a very good way for you to move on.

The Bumbles said...

Oh I always have the last word - it's just that a lot of the time the other person never hears it because I say it to myself while biting my lip. And then I go tell someone else what I wanted to say aloud just to get it out. Sometimes that someone is just my cats if my hubby or buddies aren't around. But trust me - it feels really good to vocalize it :0)

Erin P said...

You are sooo right. It is very hard to do, but I have found that sometimes it's the only thing that will work. With my ex, it is absolutely the only thing, if only because he will literally never let it end--if you say anything else, he will respond. It's gone as far as me never opening his emails sometimes.

Of course it's even harder when it's someone you cared about, because you think they actually *want* to understand you...until you realize it was never actually about you at all. Hard lessons, huh? Very good post, by the way. Your "serious subjects" are as good to read as your lighthearted ones!!

David C said...

I believe it can go either way. If it is heated and will never go anywhere and it is a stalemate, then I'm usually the one that lets it go. Let them stew in it. On the other hand, if it is the case at work where someone tries to pin something on me, and I have email proof that proves me right, of course I send that and have the last word. That kind feels good.

David C said...

I believe it can go either way. If it is heated and will never go anywhere and it is a stalemate, then I'm usually the one that lets it go. Let them stew in it. On the other hand, if it is the case at work where someone tries to pin something on me, and I have email proof that proves me right, of course I send that and have the last word. That kind feels good.