Something has been happening lately. Several somethings. I am sharing mostly because I find it fairly profound. Many times I have avoided things because it has been MY WORST CASE SCENARIO. Then, when the "worst case scenario" happens it wasn't all that bad. Or it was REALLY awful, but I made it through.
One thing I have worked on consistently is to be "honest" in my needs with people. To reach out and let people know I am having a rough day, and not just show up or make myself available when I am having a good day. In the past I only went out or picked up the phone when I felt good or able.
Of course, what happened was exactly what you might expect. I was "there" for others. I was a "true" friend. But they never realized I HAD needs or bad days. One woman even said to me, "You seem like Buddha - who always sucks in negative energy and breathes out the positive. I've never seen you upset before." Why? Because I NEVER shared my bad places with others. I never placed myself before them in vulnerability or with needs.
When I went through a life shattering event, like divorce or horrific illness, I lost 80% of my friends. Not because they were so terrible - but because they simply didn't KNOW me to be that "needy" or awful or as a person who wasn't a Smiling Snit. Of course, no one likes a Negative Nancy all the time. But we are all allowed to have rough days or patches where we NEED people. Or we reach out and ask. Similarly- I often reach out to my friends and say, "How are you? How can I love you? What can I do to make this experience less painful?" etc. But on MY worst days I would not pick up the phone. I would NOT cry to people. I would NOT ask for help. I would NOT HAVE NEEDS. NEVER. I WOULD ADMIT NO WEAKNESS. NEVER.
Life had given me enough. Why share them with others? I resented my own pain and weakness. I didn't feel like emotionally sharing more. I would secretly (very privately) blog. And I had TWO friends with whom I might share on the phone. But NO OTHER FRIENDS knew my private life or my secrets or my pain or bad days.
One day a wise woman said, "What happens if you pick up the phone on your bad days? What happens if you put yourself into the world and let people know you need them too?
It struck me as the most vulnerable, awful, horrible thing ever. I didn't want to. But I have started. And guess what happened?
Today - after a VERY rough week - (professional, health, personal, I lost a friend I did not care to lose and for very stupid reasons- etc) I finally realized that I didn't WANT to put on any more masks. So I wanted support. I wanted to connect. I want REAL friends. I wanted people to share with me THEIR LIVES and I wanted to share MY LIFE with someone who CARED. I wanted reciprocity.
I was supposed to go to a friend's house for post-birthday gluten free cupcakes. I called her, "I am having a bit of a rough day emotionally. I want to be with you but I wanted to let you know how I am feeling so you are not blindsided by me. I want to share and connect and enjoy each other today but emotionally, I'm not my best."
She texted back, "Let's reschedule." That was it. She didn't say, "I'm sorry you are sad." Or, "I hope things get better." Nothing. She just didn't feel like dealing with it. It hurt deeply to know this. No matter what she was dealing with - sharing and loving each other, would have made me feel better. I also realize that sometimes people just cannot deal with bad moods or bad places. Or they are in a bad space themselves and they cannot give.
Meanwhile, I tried again. I wanted to bring myself to the world with NEEDS, not just "happy geek gamer girl knitting and fun person." So, I called another friend who had offered to read and edit a 300 page manuscript and whom I had introduced to several of my friends. We have not become close but I wanted to connect a little. Again, they said, "I'd rather not."
Instead of, "I can listen." Or, "I will bear witness." Or any of the million things people say to be supportive - they said, No. NO. No I do not wish to know you when you are not happy.
So two people in a row had no space for my needs. I COULD give up. But I realize that I have spent a lifetime not giving people my needs. And likewise, we live in a culture where people are taught to "suck it up" and "be stoic."
Perhaps this was an off day. Or perhaps these are not really friends. I do not know. It is not personal. I may never know. I can wait and see how they respond to me in the future. I do know that reciprocity and sharing and connecting is REAL. And it is important and valuable. And I wish it in my relationships. I do not wish to hide myself behind a mask of stoicism and OKness. I also know that it feels SO VULNERABLE to be rejected or banished or not wanted when we have expressed needs. Especially when we spend our lives wishing to meet other people's needs and make them happy.
I pondered a quote by Oscar Wilde today, “What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise."
Meanwhile - I am in a painful place. I am hurting. I don't feel good. I don't really have a point to this post. I brought myself to friends and they did not wish to see me. I am not sure if they will ever or if it was just for today. I am not sure if it ever be desired or if I was wrong in assuming our friendship.
There was no "major victory." Yet- I cannot help but think if I practice bringing myself fully to every relationship and allowing others to bring themselves fully - the truths of us-ness will come out. And we can each be genuine and loving and bless and heal each other. We are all, afterall, here to serve each other. No matter how much we forget and become fixated in our petty lives. The greater picture is one of meaning and living fully. I cannot see the forest or the trees - but I believe that living each day as though they WILL come into focus will matter. And I will have done the work I am here to do along the way. I can only hope. I don't MEAN to be sad or lose faith once in a while. But that is human. And emotions and thoughts are NOT REAL, they are in the moment. What is REAL is what we give to each other. What is REAL is our soul. We need each other. We do. THIS IS REAL.