I am hard on people. Too critical. Too demanding. Too negative...no matter how hard I try not to be. This often leads me into uncomfortable situations where my expectations do not match up with someone else's perspective, opinion, or abilities. I fully recognize that I do this. And as I have gotten older I have tried very hard to stop, take a breath, and manage my expectations in order to maintain relationships. My husband will tell you that I'm still not very good at this and I am still WAY too demanding (but that's a whole OTHER story).
I know who I got it from. I know why and how I became this way.This isn't about blame...because in the end, it's like everything else...it's all about how I choose to be.
I recently left the Ashtabula County Animal Protective League, where I was a member of the Board of Directors for 2 1/2 years. I didn't leave because I didn't care about the cause or because there was a lack of work that needed doing (for the love of all that is holy, people, spay/neuter your pets!). I left because of the people...because they didn't respect or like me (and yes, I recognize how absolutely juvenile that sounds).
Oh, they appreciated what I could do FOR them...but there was no feeling for ME as a person. I didn't expect thank you's or awards or anything like that. I only expected that the relationships I had built entitled me to a certain level of respect and kindness. I was apparently very wrong. In the end, I found that those relationships weren't what I thought they were.
So I quit.
I can't tell you how much it pains me to say those two simple words. I quit. I am NOT a quitter. When the going gets rough, I work harder, longer, stronger. I don't quit.
Except this time, I quit.
With a couple months distance, however, I realize that maybe I was deluding myself the entire 2 1/2 years. I was forcing people into roles (in my messed-up brain) that they were never actually in. My participation in the group coincided with much larger events in my life and I think I was trying to find some kind of salve to heal the wounds I was nursing. And if they weren't willing to participate...well...there must be something wrong with THEM...because I am charming and smart and motivate...there couldn't possibly be something wrong with ME.
Are you surprised that I never really had a LARGE circle of friends? I've never had a "best" friend...the kind you call up and talk to for hours about anything and everything...or go out for margaritas with just because you've had a long day and need to laugh and be silly. That's not to say I don't have ANY friends. I have friends that you don't see for years and years...but when you are together it's like you never missed a minute. I have friends in the computer...friends who live all around the world and share this space filled with word and thought as if they are sitting at my kitchen table sharing a cup of coffee.
For a long time I thought I was missing out on the friendship thing. And then I had a family...and then I was swallowed up by a LOT of grief...and my circle got smaller and smaller. To be honest, I much prefer hanging out with my boys talking about Pokemon and ninjas and which is better, McDonalds or Wendys. It's not that I wouldn't enjoy friends, it's just that I don't feel like I NEED them all that much. And even if I did, I don't really have time for them. That's not entirely true...I could make time...I'm just too tired to do it. Let's face it, friends take a lot of work.
And so that's where I failed. That's why I quit. Because ultimately, it felt like too much work to evaluate my relationships and determine which ones were worth trying to salvage and which were beyond repair. It was easier to walk away completely and shrink my circle of friends, yet again, to a comfortable level.
I did, to some extent, secretly hope, "My real friends won't let me walk away." Like some kind of teenager with an irrational crush, I thought, "My real friends will knock on my door or pick up the phone and tell me they love me and ask me what we could do to fix things." And like a teenager with an irrational crush...that just didn't happen. My stupid test of those relationships failed because I wasn't realistic, then or now, about who I am and who my friends are (or should be).
I wonder if I've made a mistake. I HATE being a quitter. But then I feel such relief when someone asks me an APL-related question and I can say, "I'm sorry, I'm not involved with them anymore." And that relief reassures me that I've made a good decision for now.
I clearly need some time to decide who I am...to choose who I want to be and who I want to be friends with. Friendship can't be forced. But it must be nurtured. I suspect there was nothing there to nurture in the first place. But I will always wonder if I was just too hard on them...if I expected too much.
I suppose it doesn't really matter. The end result is the same.
Onward and upward.