I’m an introvert. I treasure my quiet time alone, especially after a busy day at work. But I’ve had a lot of quiet time in the last few weeks, since my surgery. And late last week, with so many pain management problems, I started to wish for a little more company to distract me. It would be great to have someone come over for half an hour and talk to me, tell me something interesting, make me laugh maybe.
A couple of my friends asked me earlier this week, what can I do for you? Come visit, I said. I will! they replied. One texted to say maybe she could come over on May 2–essentially two weeks from her text.I haven’t heard anything back from the other one.
I live 800 miles away from my sisters, unfortunately. It would be great to have them around. I sent them a long email on Friday afternoon, hoping them could call or email me back. One texted to say she was in Santa Fe and would call me next week. Nothing from other one.
Shit! I hate to reach out to people and ask them for something, and this is exactly why. The lack of response makes me think I don’t matter, no one sees, or no one is interested. They all have better things to do. I’m a drag to be around. It hits on all the familiar fears. No wonder when I feel bad, I just curl up by myself in my little Pain Cave. It’s better than knowing people are out there wishing I would leave them alone.
Ugh, but these are old ways of thinking. They are based on my childhood experiences, my sense from my family that there’s nothing really wrong and I shouldn’t bother anyone and what I want isn’t important. I’m trying to change those ways of thinking. I don’t want to be stuck in the same place forever. I just don’t know what to do in the moment, when current life echoes past life.
Late Friday evening, I ask E. to call me (something I’ve only asked once before, so that is hard, too). I am so longing for a feeling of connection. E. texts on Saturday morning that she’ll call at 3:00 that afternoon. She texts at 3:20 to say she is running late and will 4:00 be okay? No, it will not be okay! my offended younger self thinks. If you are too busy at the time you picked, then never mind.
I don’t even answer for a while. Then I text, never mind, we don’t need to talk. Of course, in good therapist fashion, she doesn’t really react to that, just texts that it’s up to me and she’s happy to talk to me at 4:00; she’d like to know how I’m doing. I don’t answer that text. At 4:00, she texts me to say she made it home through bad traffic and is available to talk in the afternoon or evening.
My indignation that she wasn’t there at 3:00 and my longing to connect with her do battle for a while, but eventually I text her around 5:30. I admit I felt abandoned: why doesn’t anyone want to visit or care for me? And I write that it is very embarrassing to admit that because it seems too childish and not even true–my husband has been doing a lot of kind caring for me. He just doesn’t not sit and chat with me the way women friends and sisters do.
I tell her I tried to reach out, to my sisters, to my supposed best friend in Chicago, to the couple of friends who asked what they could do. And I said reaching out sucks. When she texts back, she doesn’t pretend it’s all fine, and they are just busy. I appreciate that.
I’m so sad to hear that. Not sure what to say. Must feel lousy.
I don’t want to even want them. I feel pathetic and needy. Yes, it does feel lousy. I am not asking them again.
As I text, I can feel myself pouting like a twelve-year-old, like when I heard my friend Renee say something mean about me. She hurt my feelings, and I’m not going to sit with her in Spanish class tomorrow, so there.
Maybe they need an easier task, like 1) pray for me or 2) send me a card or 3) call me every couple of days or 4) um… something else. Sounds like better friends might be in order. Not an easy task though.
Maybe it’s me. No, really. I’m not doing it right. I don’t know how.
Hard to be good at something if you don’t practice often.
I don’t want to practice. I think it’s better if I deal with things alone. I can read books if I want to know about people. I don’t want to reach out. It’s too vulnerable and feels risky and doesn’t pay off. I’m not doing it anymore. Probably I’m being petulant but… so what.
I know I’m being unreasonable and should give her a break. There is literally nothing she can write that is going to satisfy me right now. So I move away from my “I’m never going to ask anything of anyone again” stance, and then I’m surprised how she responds.
Sorry. Thanks for being nice to me. I just don’t know what to do with this right now. I can turn this very quickly to “I’m not worthy” of care, friendship, etc. but I don’t want to do that. And I don’t see anywhere else to go a the moment, so I will try to put it aside for a while and see if I can simply distract myself.
Oh, dear Q. This is such a wise awareness. Not that you should stop reaching out to others! NO, not that part. The part about your observation of your reaction to the “data” of your life. Your reaction is one of your best teachers IF you can just observe it, notice it without judgment, be curious, and trust that your goodness is trying to work out a plan for a good life. That “other” path will reveal itself, if you stay at the crossroads and do go down the familiar path of “I’m not worthy.” We already know where that one goes! Distract, come back, ponder, look, soothe, be curious, be grateful for the awareness that allows you not run to the familiar. Admire your courage and willingness to enter the unknown, blah blah blah… you know, all that therapy talk!
I REALLY love watching you unfold into your beautiful self. Thanks for letting me witness. And, you’re welcome (she says preemptively) for the support along the way.
Thank you, she says, refusing to be preempted.
Her words warm me even though, in a way, I don’t see any beautiful self unfolding. I’m just trying to hold the hurt, lonely feelings in check and not bludgeon myself with them.
So there I am, doing my best to avoid the “I’m not worthy” path, when my son texts me. He received the brownies, texted a short thanks, and then went off on a rant. I’d let him down by not giving him money, and also back in high school I hadn’t met his needs because I worked too much and never had time for him and even though my job was important, I should have made family more important because that is really the most valuable thing and I didn’t have my values straight.
Ah, dear son, you have impeccable timing.