Isn’t it funny what we remember and what we don’t? I can remember a conversation I had last month that wasn’t all that significant, but I don’t remember someone’s name I met two days ago. I can quote a stupid rap song I wrote for a guy in tenth grade, but I can’t remember something said in a work meeting yesterday afternoon. I can beat myself up over something I said (or didn’t say) to someone last week when that person probably doesn’t remember talking to me at all.
I always feel the need to “set things straight” which is fine if there actually is something to set straight. I can’t seem to let things go to the point where I feel the need to say something “for the record”. Problem is, the other person usually either doesn’t remember what was said or doesn’t see it as an issue. If I bring it up again, it *becomes* an issue. Which it did.
I got into this discussion about a week ago with a work friend who happens to be much younger than I am. Despite the fact that he’s less than half my age we were fast friends because we seemed to think the same way with the same type of humor. Plus he reminded me of an old friend who was like a brother to me. It got started because I brought up some things I’d said to him earlier that week that I’d already apologized for. There were so many things he said that made sense that I should have responded to, but I was doing what my sister and I called a “Daddy”-when it’s obvious someone is intent on yelling at you, don’t interrupt them. Sit down, shut up, half-listen (enough to answer a direct question but not enough to take it to heart) and do whatever it is you have to do to let them get it out of their system. This usually works. Usually.
Now I really wish I hadn’t done this. I keep going over the conversation in my head and think of what I *should* have said but didn’t. Sometimes it was because I was just letting him talk but other times it was because the messages were coming faster than I could answer. Even if I had time, I couldn’t find the words. I’m not going to bring it up again because a) it was over a week ago, and b) I probably won’t see him for a while. I’m on leave. For me the awkwardness is still fresh because I have things I want to say but the time has passed.
He said that people are saying that I’m jealous of the time he spends with one of our other work friends. I don’t know where he got this idea from. While it’s true that I mentioned I’d like to be included in some of their outings, that was because our friend told me that *they* had been talking about inviting me but didn’t because they knew my husband wouldn’t join us. Plus, the stuff they did was fun. I did not ask; our friend just told me. They didn’t have to mention anything at all. That was months ago. They also seemed to think that I would be upset that they went back to a place we’d been avoiding without me, but I don’t care. I never did. This isn’t a slumber party and I’m not 10. But I didn’t say it. I told them so at the time, but not in this conversation.
I do remember one time saying that I wish he’d have talked to me about something, but that wasn’t out of jealousy. It was because we were discussing a larger pattern of behavior where something just didn’t seem “right”. I’ve been there. The idea that he had bipolar was floated*. If that’s true, guess who else has it? Ooh, ooh **jumps up and down with hand in air** Me! Guess who was about his age when it started? Me again. Guess who’s had every medication side effect in the book? Also me, and none of the others. So yeah, I wanted him to talk to me. But I didn’t tell him that, because I didn’t have the words.
Also, people have told me that I have a way of making people feel better without even trying. I’m told that one of my strongest gifts is the ability to draw people out, validate them and know what to say to help them without realizing I’m doing it. Even people who aren’t normally “talkers” will talk to me. If this is true, I wanted to use this “gift” to help him. But I didn’t say that. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway.
The only thing I ever wanted was to have a fun ‘coworker’ relationship-the type of friends you talk with at work, text cat videos back and forth and occasionally go to IHOP at 1 am when you all get off, but that’s it. But I didn’t say it-not to him, anyway.
He thinks I was trying to forge some sort of super-close relationship like a sad old lady (my words). All I was doing was looking for someone to get coffee with me. But I never told him that because I didn’t get the chance.
If I had thought of what to say at the time, I could have avoided all of these misunderstandings and I wouldn’t still be thinking about it. But I didn’t, so I am. I can’t remember what it was we originally argued about, but I remember this. There were definitely some things I needed to hear, like about how my nerves can put other people on edge and cause them to talk about me. That makes sense. I probably won’t remember it, though, because I’m too busy running the other things around in my head. That’s the way my brain works, or doesn’t work. I’m not sure which. I’ll let you know.
*Normally I’d avoid this kind of “armchair psychiatrist” stuff, but I wasn’t the one who said it there. I’m not saying it here either, just “if…”