Letting Go #4:
First of all, I want to thank everyone who likes me—for liking me. “Like” is not to be confused with the elementary school (heck, maybe it’s preschool by now) criteria for becoming a boyfriend or girlfriend. (Example: Subject #1 sends a BFF messenger to Subject #2 to say that he or she “likes” him or her, and wants to go out—providing their moms can drive them to the play date). No. What I’m talking about is general affection and friendship which can include love in all its forms.
Second, I would like to apologize to all the people who like me—for ignoring them while I spend all my waking hours trying to get unapproachable or messed up people to give me the hint of a sign that they might acknowledge and/or accept my presence in the room. It’s like I’ve signed up for the Marathon of Hopeless Causes in Friendship and I’m determined to come in first. But no matter what happens—I always leave a loser. Maybe I’m ambitious—I want the gold medal in connecting well with people. Maybe I want to be popular (although that became a hopeless cause in puberty). Maybe it’s a way for me to pretend that everyone will always respond in a friendly manner to me when I give them a kind smile and a little encouragement. Unfortunately, in today’s stressed-out, crazy world, this is often an invitation for people to dump all their bad moods, hang ups, prejudices, jealousies, karma and just plain sadism onto me. Often hit and run. And then I spend an inordinate amount of time analyzing and reanalyzing WHAT WENT WRONG.
Why don’t they like me? (Me thinks I have too much time on my hands so I play this game in my head.) I seem to spend most of my obsessing on complete strangers. I worry over many little nuggets of rejection: Why did that person honk at me? Why wouldn’t the cashier talk to me? Why won’t the neighbors’ abused and dysfunctional Great Danes stop viciously lunging at me? (Yep, I’m afraid to say that my liking issues include unfriendly animals, too.) I’ve had many unfriendly incidents with public servants at the post office, bureau of motor vehicles and library. Well, now that I’m a public servant myself, and have friends who are public servants, I’m beginning to see that trying to get people to like me can have dire consequences in the public sector. Using my farm background as an analogy, you don’t want to be waving ANYTHING (regardless of whether it’s red or not) in front of an angry dairy bull. Even if it’s a friendly wave with a kind smile. In other words, there may be a very good reason why individuals are giving off the “don’t come near me and don’t you even try to be all friendly” vibes. They are warning you to stay away for your own mental health and personal safety. And, there are times when one kind word will win you a friend for life with someone who is very unstable (which may shorten your life immediately).
These days I mumble the following phrase like a mantra: Don’t take it personally! This is rapidly becoming my favorite slogan as I try to control those frisky hormones during my “second puberty” menopausal honeymoon. Right now I take everything personally. But luckily, it’s more like “how dare you—you *******!” when I’m cut off in traffic, rather than the “oh gosh, that’s okay—maybe this happened for a reason” attitude from the old perimenopausal days. While my big dramas were always with a boyfriend’s rejection when I was young, now it’s the rejection from other women that cuts me the deepest. I suppose it’s because I didn’t grow up with sisters. Men are easier to understand for me, but women—a whole other story. Whoever it is, I’m learning to come to terms with the knowledge that not everyone wants to be my friend, or even wants to be friendly. And that’s okay.
So, the next time my Facebook invitation is ignored, I will graciously mutter my mantra under my breath—and go Twitter someone who really likes me.