So there was an article in Darling Magazine that they posted the other day. In the Game of Who Cares Less, Nobody Wins. I’ll wait while you go read it.
(I mean, you don’t have to, you’ll probably catch the drift, but it is short and well-written, so I recommend you do.)
Are you back? Lovely.
Here’s a quote to Cliff Notes you into where my head is…
In every area of our lives, if we can learn to embrace vulnerability instead of running from it, our relationships can become much more fruitful. Letting your guard down shows your humanness, makes you relatable, and allows other people to see you. In friendships, in romantic relationships, and even in families, it is much easier to love someone who is honest with themselves and with others about what they are feeling, and it allows the relationship to evolve organically. Maybe it’s time we all call attention to the games we are playing and the defensive mechanisms we have installed, and challenge ourselves to question whether they have helped or harmed our relationships.
As I read this and nodded my head self-righteously, (that guy did this to me! And that person never responds to my texts immediately even though I KNOW they are glued to their phone!) I was struck with the way I have adapted to this defense mechanism.
I’ll be honest. I’ve been hurt- a few more times than I’d like to admit; by friends and acquaintances as well as guys. I few years ago I was the friend who would immediately respond to texts! I was enthusiastic and engaging. I hated having to hold back for some unspoken rule that shouldn’t exist. Even with having been hurt, I was always hopeful, willing to be vulnerable if it meant developing a close relationship with someone I was interested in. (as a friend or in the romantic sense.)
I’m not sure when it started to change. Maybe when I came back from traveling abroad, full of stories and emotions and changes that no one else could quite comprehend. To find that life had indeed gone on without me. (I knew it would- I just didn’t realize the extent, or how much I would have grown apart from certain people.)
So I started adapting this “act like you don’t care” attitude. I’m laid-back and prone to self-sabotaging, so it was a relatively easy habit to absorb. I’ll admit- sometimes, its okay to not respond immediately to someone. People are busy- life gets crazy, signals are bad at work, or you honestly need to think about your response.
But when I receive a text, and deliberately decide to answer it in 15-30 minutes, or the next day, that’s what makes me kind of want to ask who I’ve become.
Where is the line between having boundaries and being open and vulnerable in a friendship or relationship? I mentioned above that I’m a pro self-sabotager. (Especially when it comes to guys.) Again- we ALL have baggage. History. Mine causes me to figure I may as well self-combust before someone has a chance to hurt me. And when they turn out to be a genuinely nice person and I’m left feeling like a jerk because I had a knee-jerk reaction to something because how I’ve been treated in the past… well, I feel like a...jerk.
I recently had a reaction to someone that, in the moment, felt right- but as I look back at that reaction, I realize I was embracing all of those nasty habits. I was trying to remain aloof. Mysterious. I was letting hurts someone else inflicted to unfurl in our interaction.
Probably, in the scheme of things- the whole thing wasn’t a big deal. The person told me not to worry about it.
But I did. I am.
(to that person, even though you probably won’t read this, I am sorry. Genuinely this time, no excuses. I expected you to not care, so I prepped myself not to care and was an ass. I really hope we can still be friends.)
I’m realizing that I’m starting to resemble a person I don’t like very much.
A woman who is carrying around a bunch of of clunky weights that leave a terrible feeling in my stomach. Someone who not only allows herself to dabble in ridiculous, unspoken rules about communication, but who encourages them. Who has lost the hope and vulnerability that shaped her heart and allowed her to be someone who wants help everyone feel loved. Who has stopped trusting in God because He hasn’t been a genie and granted her three wishes.
Last night, as my stomach turned at this weird situation I found myself in, as I replayed the things I had said, or the attitude my response had been rooted in, I could only think to pray, “God- if anything is to ever come of this mess, it will have to be that YOU are doing something.”
My stomach still hurt today.
I still replayed the conversation and situation in my head. Trying to justify my response as feminism and standing up for myself… but, obviously, I began to realize other things.
I don’t know what it looks like to start approaching interactions with more honesty and vulnerability. It seems like it will probably hurt. But I hate games. In relationships and… just in general. (sorry people- don’t ask me to play Cranium or Settlers of Catan- I will not. Maybe if you find a version of The Cones of Dunshire…then we’ll talk.) They just don't sit well. I love to engage with people. I love to hang out and mentor young people, I love deep conversations with friends, meeting new people that I just click with... all these defensive tactics have no place in my life. They are not who I am- more so, they are not who I want to be.
“God- if anything is to ever come of this mess, it will have to be because YOU are doing something.”