I’m very close to giving my friend Griggs a major lecture. I haven’t done it yet because it will probably be a turning point in the friendship (and probably not for the better) and I need to use her as a reference when I start job hunting. Yes, I know how terrible that sounds.
For three years, I’ve listened to her complain about her boyfriend and how she wants him out of her house. She recently received a little money and I assumed (my bad) that she would use that to get him to leave. He won’t go quietly – he’s a psychologist’s dream case.
I asked her about it yesterday. She said her uncle offered to help her … but she didn’t want him to see her house (it is a garbage dump, mostly thanks to the boyfriend). I told her to call the Sheriff. She didn’t want to do that because they would condemn her house and take her animals to a shelter where they would be euthanized. I told her that once she got him out of there, her friends would help her clean it up and she’d get the animals back. No, the city she lives in doesn’t do it that way. I told her to get her friends to help her move the boyfriend. Well, he might start a fight and she couldn’t do that. I asked her if she really wanted him to leave. Oh, yes, absolutely. I fucking hate him, she assured me.
I don’t care if she hates him or not. I don’t even really care if she wants him to stay. But I am tired of the whining and then the excuses of why she can’t change. Obviously she doesn’t want to change. She swears up and down that she does want him to leave … but her actions scream the opposite message. I believe what she does, not what she says. When I tell her that, she will be offended.
Back in the day, when I thought alcohol was my problem (because I was drinking a lot because I was gay and had no idea how to deal with that), I heard lots of platitudes, like “one day at a time,” and “this too shall pass.” My personal favorite was “act as if …” The theory was that if you consistently act as if you’re happy then, sooner or later, you will actually be happy. In my own life, I cannot wait to feel better in order to make a change. I have to make the change and then I feel better.The job hunt is a good example. I can’t wait until I feel confident in order to start interviewing. I have to act as if I’m confident in order to start feeling confident.
I think that people’s actions are a far better gauge of their feelings than their words. If I walk around slamming doors and yelling at people, it isn’t reasonable to expect someone to believe I’m not angry – one look at my actions belies my words. When I was with the New York Ex, and even Kendra, we had this discussion a million times. I would get frustrated with the situation, say something snarky and start a fight and then I couldn’t figure out why they both said I was such an angry person. I thought they were being unfair and weren’t considering my feelings. People can only see my behavior; they can’t read my heart and see my feelings. If someone’s actions are in direct opposition to their words, which do you believe? You believe the evidence – what you see them do.
When my dad was sick, my mom was always very optimistic. She was cheerful and upbeat to the point that I honestly believed she was in denial of his terminal diagnosis. It took several years before I understood that it was her way of whistling in the dark, of fighting back. Positive thinking is an amazing power. Unfortunately in my dad’s case it didn’t work, but looking back on how my parents handled it taught me something about life. It taught me that my actions can change my feelings, but my feelings usually don’t change my actions.
Tomorrow I’m going to act as if I love my job until they fire me. I’m going to act as if I’m confident. I will act as if I want to go back to school. I will act as if my ears aren’t bleeding when I’m surrounded by people in denial of their own emotions and actions. I will act as if I care.
Nah, not tomorrow. Maybe next week.