Thursday, 19 June 2008

Comfort and comforting

In my head I rant continually about the fact that nobody in the real world cares less about what has happened to me. They ignore me, they shut me out, they change the subject, they look embarrassed, they just don't understand. But is it as simple as that? I'm not sure. Maybe I'm not very good at asking for help, maybe I'm unable to receive the help that is offered. Perhaps I'm not open enough. It's certainly true that, when people ask how I am, I usually say that I'm fine. Despite the fact that I want to say that I'm desperate, devastated, struggling to get through the day. So recently I decided to adopt a new strategy. No more saying - I'm fine. Instead I'm going to try and tell people the truth about what has happened and how I feel. But so far I have to say that the new strategy has not been a rip roaring success. I've tried it twice and both times the people I've talked to have finished up in tears. Not tears for me, you understand. Tears about their own situation. And yes, both of them are people who are in quite difficult situations. But situations which are, actually, largely of their own making. And nothing like as bad as my situation ..... (Sorry I hate competitions in pain but what I'm saying is true). And yet I'm the one mopping up the tears and offering the comfort. Why does this happen? Is it something to do with me? Am I someone who is incapable of ever making myself centre stage? Or do I just happen to know a lot of people who don't really recognise that the business of comfort is a two way street? I really don't understand and I find all this very upsetting. Any advice appreciated!


debbie said...

Let's assume that your friends are good people and this is unintentional on their part. Maybe, then, they've been needing to open up to someone and you leading the way has brought an opportunity they have long since needed--thus, the tears.
However, if we assume that's not the case, then they're asses and I suggest you find new friends :).

Melissia said...

I think that sometimes the ability to give comfort is a gift. I've tried to write about this before, as I think it is a skill that can be honed and can do so much good. I have a friend who is welcomed wherever she goes and makes friends instantly, you know that she will listen to your tale and while nothing will change with the telling, you will feel better for having shared. At least that is the way we both feel about each other. I wish you had a friend like that. We haven't lived close for 8 years, but talk often and can be relied on just for the joy of having a comforting ear when things get really rough. Perhaps you have an old friend you can reconnect with? The joy of some friends is that there is no pressure to fix anything, nor any expectation of running into them at a social function, so you can moan about anything big and small.
Any help, or should I shut up and just give you my friend's phone number?
I do have a very evil idea however. Perhaps you could borrow Honey's lovely van and spread some flower power! Who wrote that? That was very bad! Melissia will now be signing off after a very long day. Good night Alice.

Tash said...

You know, I was going to comment on this a few days ago, saying that maybe it just shit luck, and then I had YET ANOTHER friend cry on me.

So here's what I'm thinking: I think there are the people who make it about them, and that sucks. Then there are people who really do feel it, but can't express it, and somehow want to sympathize or justify the tears that are now reaching their eyeballs so they start pouring forth some of their own sad sack crap, all the while saying "and I don't know why I'm crying cuz this is NOTHING like what you went through."

I don't get it either.

I do have a few, thank goodness, who don't do this. And then I have a few who just refuse to accept what happened at all. Really, it sucks the whole way around, doesn't it.

Karin said...

It does seems to be a skill that requires sharpening. I think people's minds race ahead of the here and now. It's hard to listen when in a race. It takes some skills to just be. I have had old friends who are capable of just being with me, not trying to fix anything.

Then there are the other people who either crossed the street when they saw me coming (yes! true!) or ask, "Have you seen a counselor?" when I tell them how I'm feeling - after being asked by them. So many times solutions are offered when there is nothing that can solve this. People are uncomfortable with that in this age of quick fixes.