"The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places. But still there is much that is fair. And though in all lands, love is now mingled with grief, it still grows, perhaps, the greater." ― J.R.R. Tolkien
On New Year's Eve, a friend and I were texting one another and she wrote that she hopes the coming year will be better for me than this year has been. My knee-jerk response to her was to question that comment and fire back about how great my life is, citing good health and the importance of family and friends. She wrote right back, apologizing and mentioning a few trouble spots for me, moments that I have spoken with her about, and asked for her counsel on numerous occassions. After a string of many texts back and forth, we seemed to get on the same page and I let her know I was thankful for her wish and her friendship. I send tons of texts each day but this particular virtual conversation has lingered with me.
I learned a few things from this incident. The first is that I have really wonderful friends that I can call at 11pm, and then call again, repeatedly, until I have fullly processed my issue. I have friends who let me drop in at their house just so I can escape Andy and the kids during moments of insanity at my own house. I have friends that will watch my sick kids for me so I can go to work. I have friends that let me swear like a trucker, who watch me repeatedly stick my foot in my mouth, and they still call me their friend. I have friends that have done a lot more for me- big things and little things and I'm so thankful to have many friends to call upon when I am in need, because, boy am I often in need. Yet, I rely on my friends to be my therapist and this is dangerous.
I also learned that, yes, I am often in need. I'm very needy. Andy will tell you this. One of his favorite lines is that I am visually low maintenance and mentally high maintenance. Isn't he Mister Compliments? As a big-time processor and extravert, I am thinking all of the time and talking about whatever it is that I'm thinking. Do positive things happen in my life that I think about? Yes! All of the time. Yet, there are two reasons why I likely don't voice them all that often. The first reason is that I don't think women are raised to talk positive about themselves. You can read scholarly, and nonscholarly, articles about this and how it impacts little girls, teens, all the way up to women in the workforce. I'm just not comfortable tooting my own horn and when I do, I feel guitly about dong it. Particularly during a dishing sesh with a friend. If she has just shared her troubles with me, why would I blurt out some fab news to her? I'd be too worried that I'm raining on her already rainy parade. In the back of my head, I know that she'd be happy for me, but I gravitate toward misery loves company. The second reason is why would I want to process positive news? To me, there's not much to talk about when something good happens. How many IM's, text messages, emails, or how much dialogue can one have about getting a raise, losing weight, getting a promotion, cleaning that long-overdue closet, getting a new car, going for a nice hike,watching your kids perform in the school concert, having a nice dinner with family, or finding inner peace? It happened, I'm cool with it, and the good moments get tucked away in a teeny-tiny place in my brain.
This is where I've had it all wrong! Andy, are you reading this? Please note on this day, Melissa admits that she has been wrong. To be clear: just this once, about this one topic. There's a lot of bad stuff in the world- stuff that might not seem to even impact us directly but infuses our brain waves through the media. We are bombarded with news of shootings, stabbings, rape, robbery (all of this on my local news in the last two weeks). There's also a lot of bad stuff in our immediate lives- illness of loved ones, loss of loved ones, stress at work or loss of jobs, marital challenges, the growing pains of our children, the weather. (Who doens't complain about the weather? It is -2 outside my doors right now!) In a world of a lot of bad stuff, and a great deal of hard work, there's also a lot of joy and beauty. During the course of our days, we tuck this joy into the backs of our minds and we don't celebrate it enough. We worry to much what others will think if we share our joy- we think we'll be perceived as pompous-that we are bragging.
What's wrong with a little bragging? Maybe we should be doing it more often. We might think that sharing positive news makes others feel bad about themselves (again, lots of articles online about this and facebook)but honestly, I'd rather read a post about someone having a baby, or getting a promotion than read about how someone received bad customer service or try to interpret vaguebooking about how everyone in someone's life is a hater or how they have been betrayed by someone they trusted. I love spending time with my friends, and I'm always willing to lend an ear, or offer advice, when they are in need but I also like laughing with them, watching the pure amazingness of their children growing up beside mine, and being witness to their marriages growing stronger and richer with time. I hope they feel the same way about me.
It is my New Year's Resolution this year to let people know that I actually do see the glass as half full. As a matter of fact, my glass is overflowing. I may still need to process my issues, but I plan to balance my problem sharing with positivity. I'm also going to find a therapist so that I can do a downer dump on someone who is paid to listen to me and not take on my problems as her own.
During our text, I told my friend that I was sorry I'd only shared the bad stuff with her this year, but I think, in reality, it's the bad stuff that sticks with us, because some of my most joyful moments this year have been shared with her. She and I spent a lot of time at the lake together over the summer and when I pick my brain to find the good stuff, there, jammed in a corner, I find many memories of the two of us. One particular moment I recall is taking out her family's pontoon boat and hitching a tube to the back of it. She and I had no idea what we were doing but Caro and I crawled into the tube and she hit the gas. We screamed with fear and delight as the wind whipped our faces and the water splashed around us, jostling us with every wave. I also paddle boated for the first time at her house as well as had wine and cheese with her while the sun set over the water, and laughed way too much about some crazy stuff our kids did. Thank you, to that friend, and all of my support network, for being a big part of why 2013 was really a wonderful year. I promise, during 2014, to tell you more often why you make my glass so full.