I considered shutting them down for the same reason I closed my Facebook accounts, rarely responded to email, and reponded to texts either with short answers or evasive ones. I feel people see me, see us, through their own lenses and no matter what I say, they comment according to their view, even when it is totally wrong.
That leaves me with three options: 1. Don't respond, which upsets folks and gives them room to feel unloved and unappreciated. 2. Respond with some weak statement of gratitiude that I really don't feel but is politically correct and allows the person to feel she did some good. 3. Be honest and say, "You missed it. Here is how." I have tried this approach many times. ONE time the person said, "Thank you for sharing that. I had never considered it that way." The rest of the time I hear how I am unfair, ungrateful, angry, or to blame. After all, if I talked more, shared more, thanked more, was happy to take what I got more, did the dog and pony show more.
I don't do dog and pony shows.
The fact is a lot of comments aren't helpful. In fact, a lot of them are hurtful because it is obvious the person didn't really read what I had written or said.
Example: I went to a wedding a few weeks ago. Nice ceremony. Miserable experience. The children and I didn't know a lot of the people there, but we knew some. One spoke to us. The rest sat across the room, stared at us, and seemed to talk out of the side of their mouths. I said nothing, just waited until we could leave without looking like we were make some overly emotional exit. Didn't matter. The one person who spoke to us asked how we are. I told her great. She said, "Yeah. You look good." I assured her we are good and asked how she was. She answered. Awkward silence, "So y'all doing okay?" Mental sigh. Yep. Same conversationl few sentences, then back to, "So y'all are doing well?"
When she left, Robert said, "Mom, that is why I hate being around people. They don't see us. They see the pathetic broken Phillips family who is trying to survive anyway. I hate people."
Later that night I received texts from folks asking if I was emotionally okay after the wedding. It was nice they remembered the wedding and considered it might be emotional. Fact is it wasn't...at all. It was just a wedding. Most were glad to hear it, but then I made the mistake of mentioning the irony of folks being all worried about the wedding being emotional when the next day was a year since my mom had died, but I was excited to spend the day with my friend Scott going to caves, the zoo, and the Riverwalk. Notice all I said about my mom is that it had been a year. Note the excitement about seeing Scott. The responses?
Cyberhugs, offers of wine or hard booze, kleenex handouts, and, "I wish I could be there with you. I would just hold on to you and let you be sad."
Um. I'm not sad. I don't need booze, but I am wondering about the suggestion to drink to overcome sadness. I don't need kleenex. I don't want hugs, and I don't want you hanging on me.
I tried to handle it with kindness, but what I wanted to say is, "Did you hear me at all? Did you actually read what I wrote? Have you considered addressing that codependency thing you've got going? I refuse to be broken so you can feel better about helping fix me. And you wonder why I don't try to talk to you."
Fact is, most folks think that is harsh...unless they are one of those people being suffocated by well-meaning huggers and kleenex holders, and if you are one of them, you are saying, "Oh, thank God someone gets it!"
I get it.
Unfortunately, not a lot of people do, and instead of dealing with those who want to tell me how hurtful my comments are or how ungrateful I am or how I need to see it from their perspective, I decided to say nothing and heard THAT was wrong, too. Seems the only right answer is to tell people what they want to hear.
And who does that help? Not me. Not others who are being suffocated. And while it may protect egos and comfort spots, it does not educate people to actually be helpful.
Fact is, a dog and pony show might be fun to watch and let the audience leave with a smile and a warm fuzzy, but the Truth sets a person free.
I've been a prisoner to the lie of biting my tongue, stuffing my feelings, living in others' faulty view of my family and me, and pretending to be grateful so I wouldn't get told how critical, ungrateful, and harsh I am or how I make someone feel unappreciated or whatever. To those who would accuse me of such, I can only say, I don't care about comfort zones, warm fuzzies, or egos. They are nothing more than lies that keep people imprisoned to the way things are and keep them from what things should be.
I refuse to settle for what is because I'm afraid of the cost of what should be.
And if I have to do a dog and pony show to maintain relationships with people who wear me out emotionally, mentally, or spiritually just so I don't look "bad", ungrateful, or angry and make the presentation of a nice Christian girl, well, I only have one answer:
I don't do dog and pony shows.