This is the second of three posts about how I felt 2015 went for me. Rather than focus on the goals I set for 2015, this is more about the other stuff, the things that touched a nerve or places where I recognised that the issue was emotional and couldn’t be changed without some acknowledgement of that. Last week was all about me and money. This week is about relationships.
So 2015, as defined by the relationships I have with others. Honestly, it’s been alright, no major drama, I haven’t fallen out with anyone and I’m grateful for the people in my life. I’ve mostly felt I had a balance of enough alone time and enough people time. I try to be a good friend, I’m clear about what I’m good at and where I can be useful and I’m clear about what I’m not good at.Having said that, I have had a number of conversations this year about how self contained I am and how distant I can be. While I would love to dismiss this as stuff and nonsense when the two people you are most open with (your mother and the closest thing you have to a father) agree with each other, then you should probably reflect on it before you dismiss the criticism.
Looking at how I do relationships the problem becomes a bit clearer. I love my friends, I’m happy to have them in my life and I appreciate them. What I don’t do much do is expect help from them, practical or emotional. Why? Well, I’ve always been a bit like that and while it would be nice to blame upbringing or betrayal or something traumatic in my childhood. I suspect it’s genetics, Ma, Ben and I have always needed space, we like people but are not at all phased by alone time. As I’ve got older, I’ve realised that it’s inherent rather than learned, we live in our heads a bit more than other people.
However, after Stef died it got worse and I became more cautious about trusting others. For friends that were around, I think it was generally difficult to cope with me at the time, I’m quite hard to read and my coping strategies didn’t help. Also, sticking by someone as they grieve is profoundly uncomfortable and hard to do, if you’re not in that space. For some it was too much and that, with a whole lot of other stuff lost me some friendships. There’s no blame here but at that point a switch flipped in my head and relationships became a hell of a lot easier for me to cope with, minus drama and overthinking but also minus expectation of emotional or physical support. While I was happy to offer it to other people, I didn’t show much of myself to others because I wasn’t sure that anyone was interested to know.
I am more open about my feelings and my life on this blog than I am in person, with my friends. There’s a reason I don’t link this space to my social media. In fact, it’s a solid representation of how I operate. A handful of the people in my actual life know about it and if others find it, that’s fine, there is nothing here that I’m ashamed about but I don’t go around letting people know about it. If anyone wants to know more about me, it’s all here, I’m happy to share but it’s on them to ask the question. I won’t draw attention to it because my experience teaches me that people aren’t really that interested in me. So rather than make a song and dance about it, I’ll just be here doing my own thing, thank you very much.That habit has really solidified in the last couple of years as friends have got married and had kids and have other things to worry about. Honestly, I’m happy to talk about those things because it really isn’t all about me but it shouldn’t never be about me. I’ve had six weeks on a sofa and I can count the number of people who got in contact and visited me in that time on one hand and honestly, I can’t decide if I’m hurt or cross about it.
Something needs to change. I’m just not sure what. Unlike last week where all the action is on me, practically and emotionally and I know what I need to do. This one is full of the great undecipherable, other people. I think maybe I need to make more effort to reach out to others in a way that is just for fun. I also need to rebalance some of my relationships and put either more or less effort in as appropriate and be honest about why.
Doing that without accusation is going to take some thinking about but thinking about it is a start.