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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