Thick as a brick in the mud = me trying to appreciate the nuance in people’s “communication”.
I am an introvert who has two young children to homeschool, a homeschool group I volunteer in, a home to maintain, a partnership to cultivate, and wonderful friendships I cherish, and I’ll be darned, a book to write. So, admittedly, sometimes, things or people can fall by the wayside and it can honestly take me months to notice. Which is why the vast majority of my friendships not only acknowledge this, but work similarily. It is not unusual for us to drop off the face of the planet for a while when we become wholly focused on more demanding aspects of our lives. The return is always met with joy and much catching up.
But sometimes, things can change so much in the silence that I find myself feeling as if I misunderstood something. Which makes me intensely anxious. I don’t always do social cues that well, which is another fact I usually have in common with my closest friends. We have admitted this lack to each other and try to make up for it, being extremely clear and blunt with each other.
So when I ask a friend, point blank, if I have done something wrong or if something needs to be addressed and get nothing but silence… my anxiety goes through the roof. I can lose a whole day, or many to this.
And as I get older, I genuinely don’t have the time for this. I cannot miss multiple days of school for my kids because my anxiety is too high for me to focus. I cannot sift through months or years worth of memories trying to find the moment I “messed up”.
Because if I have a super power its sticking my foot in my mouth on accident. Literally. Know this about me. I will absolutely say the wrong thing and be oblivious about it. But if you tell me what I said and how it was wrong, I will take it heart and make sure to not say it again. I care about your feelings, I’m just shit at nuance and social cues. It’s not lack of empathy, but my brain being thicker than a stick in the mud.
Thinking non-linearly is as exhausting for me as a crossfit workout. So I try to be up front about it. And my friendships have gotten remarkably less rocky as time has gone on. As I’ve come out of my shell. As I’ve found my trusted friends who accept me as I am, and my family as it is. But sometimes, miscommunication still happens. Feelings still get hurt. Communication breaks down.
I say all of this to allow myself the room to process the conclusion: we don’t always get answers, or resolution. Not everything is as cut and dried as I like to keep my world. Sometimes it hurts and feels shitty and there’s nothing to be done about it. Breathe. Let go. Move on. And don’t waste time reaching out when all you’re going to get is the cold shoulder. But also don’t waste time building up resentment where there might not be a need for any.
Because, importantly, not every narrative needs to have a bad guy. Not every story has a right and wrong. I try my hardest to not be the bad guy but I’m sure I’m known as “that crazy bitch” to at least a handful of people. And frankly, probably super justifiably. I hurt people, acted super irrationally, ghosted, and straight up shit talked for YEARS before I got my shit together, went to therapy, and got on meds.
Does that make me a horrible person? Of course not. I wasn’t trying to do wrong or cause pain or mess up. I was shit at communication, had (have) fairly severe anxiety, and often times straight up struggled to function at all. Does that invalidate the pain of those I hurt? Absolutely not. And for most of them, they are probably much better off without me in their lives and made healthy decisions.
That, however, doesn’t make me the wicked witch. It just means I’m human. And frankly, that my communication was “Friends” level ridiculous for nigh on a decade. Ah, American society.
In the same way there are people I have absolutely cut off and cut out for my own mental health. They are not bad people. They are good people with families and love and their own path to follow. Just not next to mine. Boundaries are not surrounding yourself with ‘good’ and cutting out everyone who is ‘bad’. This isn’t Christianity, nothing in life is that black and white. Its finding the grey that works with yours and letting go of the grey that doesn’t.
It’s about holding space for the healing of relationships, but not holding your breath for them.
And acknowledging that it’s really fucking hard. And hurts. And makes me want to eat Oreos. But instead, I’m going to leave it here, on the page.