[Note: I still don’t have home internet, so I’m writing this sitting in a Starbucks. Coffee=good. Lack of home internet=bad. But I’m making do.]
There’s been some confusion about my previous blog post regarding my missing patience. Some people have thought it’s about the individual I had the argument with (whether they told me directly of not). It’s not. Really. What the argument did for me was illustrate in perfect clarity a pattern of behavior I’ve practiced my whole life in personal relationships of all kinds. I can give you examples all the way back to 4th grade, probably earlier if I think about it. A couple of examples from college in particular stand out. My last relationship is also a nice strong example. And it’s not healthy behavior.
I want people to be happy. Unfortunately, for me this typically means I spend a large amount of time trying to make sure of that. I’ve pussyfooted around issues so people don’t get upset. I’ve spent time trying to figure out how to say things so I don’t upset people. Lots and lots of time. Strategizing if you will. And then worrying about it even after the fact.
Usually I do this at the expense of my own happiness. I don’t say things or tell people how I really feel because I want them to be happy, even when it makes me miserable to keep my mouth shut. Instead, I put everyone else first, respecting how they feel before I respect my own feelings.
I spend all this time working at not upsetting people, listening to people b*tch about each other behind their backs, and I try to keep the peace between them all. I don’t raise the issues I have in situations, rather I just try and let them go, no matter how much they bother me. I don’t complain when I’m put in the middle of things, even though I hate it (and it happens more often than I care to admit). I’ve found myself part of things I think are mean (often aimed at others), and then I spend more time trying to get out of it without upsetting the very people that put me there, much less the other person (or people) unknowingly involved. I spend time trying to smooth things over in (misguided?) attempts to prevent drama I can see coming a mile away. I don’t say what I mean or tell people how I really feel so as to not create more drama. I don’t stand up for myself, all because I’m working hard at to make sure everyone is happy. I swallow my feelings instead, keeping my mouth shut.
I did that with the friend I talked about, among countless others dating back to before puberty. I swore after my last relationship that I’d stop doing it. And the argument my friend and I had illustrated for me that a), I’m still doing it, and b), the complete futility of it all. That’s what it was, an illustration. An illustration of how all this work and time I put in trying to make sure people are happy seems to always backfire on me. So this time I didn’t back down, I stood up for myself and said exactly how I felt, without worrying about upsetting them. All because my patience this week has gone missing and things I have let go of in the past (or just swallowed in an attempt to keep the peace) I just couldn’t seem to let go of this week.
Ultimately, I’ve lost patience with it completely, now that I’ve taken a good hard look at my own behaviors. I just can’t do this, this putting everyone else before me. This spending time trying to prevent drama or keep people happy. I try to keep the peace, and I end up getting sh*t upon for it. I end up blindsided by people I thought were my friends. And while they b*tched at me and I listened and didn’t say anything and tried to keep the peace, apparently that doesn’t always work the other way around. And when I speak my mind I feel judged by the very same people. I end up getting blamed for things that I had nothing to do with, end up responsible for things that don’t actually involve me, or end up in the middle of things because I didn’t object. All so I could try and keep the peace and make sure everyone was happy.
Really what that post ended up being about is that my patience with my own patterns of behavior has gone missing. And I don’t necessarily thing that’s a bad thing. It may mean I lose a few friends as a result, but as I said in that post, if they are truly my friends they’ll love me anyway and support me the way I’ve tried to support them and will continue to support them. Because I really do want people to be happy. But I just can’t do it anymore at the expense of my time and my own happiness. I don’t have to agree with people’s choices, I can respect them, and if they make them happy, great. I’ll support you as much as I can. I will support you if it’s what you want, if it’s what you believe will make you happy, whether I agree with it or not. Because it’s not my life. My job as your friend is to support you in your life. But when it involves or impacts my life and my feelings I can’t do that anymore. I have to respect myself first.
But if you see my patience regarding work situations, do please send it back my way. My tongue hurts from all the holes I’ve been biting in it during my attempts to not piss people off when it could (and should) be avoided.