This post would normally be in email form to my friend on a Saturday morning over coffee. But a chain of events has caused me to want to make a statement to the world. So, if you are looking for poorly written haiku poetry, pictures of my adorable children or banter about the angst of my charmed suburban housewife life, please skip this post and look below. If you are still with me, I suspect there may be something in this to which you relate.
The chain began a few weeks ago when I read about Amy’s FLOPs experience and had two reactions. The first was the obvious outrage at the insensitivity of other women. The second was a series of memories. Snapshots of uncomfortable situations in which those around me were too self-absorbed to look further than their upturned nose. A dinner out in Fort Worth, a church in Memphis, the Junior League in Abilene and local mommy and me classes all came instantly to mind. All situations that retrospectively I can look at objectively. All situations that at the time changed who I am. I don’t know why it is this way. I don’t know why I can’t objectively assess the motivations of others in real time. Thankfully, I believe this is a skill that does get honed with the passage of time and is strengthened by the bonds of true friendship. What a gift it would be to be able to truly (without later regret or obsession) mentally freeze the situation, assess it, make a plan of action and then implement the plan in real time. What if I could say the right thing at the right time? What if I could have told a co-worker “Yes, I am lonely and need a night out, but it isn’t very nice to make a big deal about it”? What if I could have walked up to the pastor of that church and just said, “You are being mean and would be better served to do a little research before you speak”?. What if I had stood up in that membership meeting and said, “Stop talking with only the people you know because you might benefit from getting to know me”? What if instead of averting glances like everyone else in the class I approached someone and said, “here is my number, let’s get the kids together to play”….Oh, I did that and now have a life-long friend whose response to that was “you are the first person who has talked to me and I have been coming for 6 months”. I still wish I had said the other things. I didn’t enjoy high-school politics. I don’t want to pattern my adult life like I am still there.
The second link in this chain was an enlightened neighbor’s comments related to her last year’s New Year resolution to only spend time with people she likes. She said something profound to the effect that the more time she spends getting to know people, the fewer friends she has. I don’t know if I personally go far enough in this area. I am not confrontational by nature. I settle into a pattern of quietly, mentally, listing people into categories of “friendly acquaintance, no chance of more” and “friends and potential warm, fuzzy people” and leave it at that. I have done much better spending my time with the warm fuzzy people and neglecting the no-chancers, but I still feel that nagging “what if I mislabeled?” guilt. Guilt that I should float from my body due to link three. I didn’t enjoy high-school politics. I don’t want to pattern my adult life like I am still there.
Link three begins over a year ago with casual acquaintances that were met on several occasions. At each occasion, there was a brief instance of intuition that these were not warm fuzzy folk. At each occasion, I pushed those feelings aside with rationalizations. As further proof of how dense I was being, I was also reading the book “Blink” (scientific explanation of intuition) yet the justifications continued circling in my head. Last night these people were sitting at a party with a dear friend cracking jokes about how she was raising her child TO HER FACE. How self absorbed do you have to be to find mocking the choices of others to be good party talk? I didn’t enjoy high-school politics. I don’t want to pattern my adult life like I am still there.
If you are still living your social life like you are still in high-school, I am officially putting you on notice. I am no longer participating in your circle. I want out. If you are hanging out with people that still act like they are running for prom queen, don’t invite me over. I want no part of that campaign. If you can’t act like an adult in a nice and friendly manner, I am sending you to time-out until you can behave civilly. It is hard enough to raise my kids without worrying about raising you. I didn’t enjoy high-school politics. I don’t want to pattern my adult life like I am still there.