People Pleaseology 101

images-1 On Saturday I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, feeling tired and anxious.  I opened my blog on my laptop and published my short piece “Enough”.  After checking email, I tore myself away from the computer to make the girls some pancakes.

Later I returned to my blog to read a few wonderful comments about “Enough” that lifted my spirits.  “Hurrah!” I said softly, feeling my yucky outlook shift into something much brighter.

Then I checked Facebook.

I spotted a message from a mom I know named “Shannon”.  I hadn’t seen or communicated with Shannon in many months.  Forgive me for using Facebookeese here, but I was Facebook friends with Shannon in my former account.  I shut that Facebook account down over a year ago when I relapsed with bipolar depression.

Shannon lives near us and she’s a very nice person, but we’ve always been acquaintances, never close friends. Her message requested my Facebook friendship, and she asked me for some health advice regarding a family member.  Shannon added that she thought I had deliberately unfriended her and she wanted to know why I chose to do that.  She wrote that she thought we were “friends” and she was upset.

“Oh shit.” I thought.  I felt terrible that she felt bad, but in my codependent fashion I overly obsessed about it the whole day, giving energy to that issue instead of directing it to my children and myself.

Moreover, the truth of the matter was that I never unfriended Shannon.

After receiving her Facebook message that morning, I immediately wrote her an (overly detailed) explanatory email:

“Hi Shannon, I feel awful that I upset you.  I got sick last spring with a relapse of bipolar depression and I closed my Facebook account.  I was hospitalized for almost a month over the summer.  Months later I decided to open a new Facebook account and I felt it was best to connect with people I had active friendships with… I didn’t mean to hurt you in any way and I’m so sorry.  I appreciate your letting me know how you feel.  Below is some information I hope will help you.  Take care, Dyane”

I took the time to include detailed answers and I provided contact information to assist her.  I can’t just forget about Shannon because I know it’s only a matter of time until we run into one another in our small town.  She took over a day and a half to respond to my message, and wrote:

“Thank you for your email.  It helped.”

That was it.

No “Sorry you were so sick” or any kind of acknowledgement or brief empathic response.  While I realize she must be hurting because her family member is having problems, I feel that no matter what I did to her via Facebook, her curt reply didn’t cut it with me.

The bottom line is I’m mad.  It’s MY fault that I’m mad.  Why, oh why can’t I stop my pattern of feeling lousy when others are upset with me and I haven’t done anything egregiously wrong to them???

The irony of this scenario is that in my poem “Enough” I just published, I asserted:

“Enough of feeling obligated to you even though I don’t owe you anything” and:

“Enough of worrying if others like me – that went out with the 70’s” and:

“Now I’m strong enough to say…Enough”

I was feeling strong enough to say “enough”  when I wrote this poem on Friday, then BOOM!

The next day I’m quivering with my tail between my legs, feeling guilty and weak.

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I need to face the facts: Shannon is not a threat to me; she’s far from being dangerous, and if I run into her at the school, the Farmer’s Market or the library there will be no episodes of mommy rage.

I had hoped that her compassion would have kicked in at least a little when I explained how sick I was, and that she would understand my reasonable point of view about Facebook friendships.  Unfortunately she reacted, in my opinion, from not just a hurt place, but a cold one.  A phrase I often heard growing up came to mind: “I need this like I need a hole in the head”.

As long as I can remember, I’ve always been a people pleaser.  I realize that not everyone is going to like me and/or understand me and my decisions.  So I haven’t learned the people pleaser lesson yet, but with my awareness hopefully I can handle this type of situation better the next time it happens.

Also, last night something very strange happened that I will most definitely blog about in tomorrow’s post  “Almost”.  It was akin to a near-death-experience; not quite, but it was serious and frightening.  The incident made me realize that this stuff with Shannon is ridiculous and I will “let it go”.  (Please don’t kill me for using the Frozen phrase!)

I’ll be sure to discuss my exchange with Shannon with my therapist this week, who will most likely have a different, useful take on it.  I know this post reads more like a diary entry than a blog post, but I like to use this blog in a myriad of ways.  As always, I welcome your comments.  Thank you for reading!

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11 comments on “People Pleaseology 101

  1. Yes, I too have been a people pleaser, but also someone who shares too much at times and says what others hesitate saying (elephant in room). Both you and your friend are misinterpreting each other’s actions or lack thereof. She may not know what to do with the information you gave her. We try to educate others about the nature of mental illness, but their fear and discomfort remains. If you had been hospitalized for a less taboo physical ailment, your acquaintance may have responded differently. Forgive her and move on. Act as if there are no hard feelings. Turn the other check. Our manic side of our illness can take hold of a perceived slight, blow it up, and rage on. Let it go.

    • Kitt, you write such insightful comments. Yes, I need to forgive! Absolutely. Yes, I will turn the other cheek – I have to…and I’ve let the whole thing go since the truck incident, I really have! :) Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to write. I know you are busy! (I really do, after reading your blog!) It’s a honor to have you here.

    • Thanks so much for your comment, thebipolarmama! (By the way, I’m really enjoying your blog and I will start commenting there. I was very interested in the one post you wrote about your kids in the bed, as I *still* do that – you’re inspiring me to blog about it, as a matter of fact. I don’t even want to tell you my girls’ ages, ha ha ha!)

      Anyway, it makes me feel better when you write that you can completely relate to this people pleasing stuff too. It gets so old! You and I can encourage each other to put ourselves first as much as possible. I love that old saying, “If mama ain’t happy, then nobody’s happy!” ;)

      take good care!

  2. My cousin used to have a little sign that was her mom’s before her. It simply said, “Not everyone will understand you, and that’s OK.”

    We want so badly to be understood, seen, heard, valued! It’s difficult to be at peace when we’re not. But is it really OK? For me, it depends on the day! More and more, it’s getting easier to be OK :-)

  3. Hi dyane can so relate to this whole post …. I sometimes torment myself over similar things its not totally bad …means u care about others .
    oh and hello .. im still reading just been very busy in the real world ! …..

    • Hey there Claire – it’s so great to see you stop by! You are right about us caring about others!!! Miss your blog posts but I understand how you must be busy in the actual, bona fide world. Wishing you well, my dear! You deserve it!

      • Hi dyane….long time no chat! ! …. I will try to email you soon … have been hospitalized etc etc so hoping to reconnect soon with my online buddies :)

  4. Thank you, thank you L.E. Henderson. It’s always a thrill to have you comment. (I love having talented, published authors comment – c’mon, you would too! ;) Anyway, Jeez – I’m forty-frickin’-four years old and I’ve been through a war in my brain. Ya think I could deal with this kind of stuff better. I will….maybe in 20-30 years.

    Who knows, really. I’ll keep you posted, and at any rate I’ll do my best at remaining honest about things that matter to me.

    Have a great day & happy writing!
    Dyane

  5. Well said! I understand this problem too well. The central conflict of my life seems to be wanting to please but at the same time wanting the freedom to be completely honest and be myself.

    But it is so much harder than it sounds. Thanks for being so honest! :)

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