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 classmates.com (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.
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.