When I wrote yesterday’s post, I was in a playful mood. I was poking fun at my family for laughing at my ambition, for laughing at me when I asked for their help doing what I committed to do by myself. I said I’d write a blog post for every day of my 50th year and come hell or high water (a bizarre expression that deserves a post of it’s own), I’m going to get them done. I admit to myriad faults; living up to my commitments is not one of them.
There have been many days when it hasn’t been convenient for me to write a blog post: I’ve written with a fever, I’ve written when I’ve had one too many glasses of wine, I’ve written when I am so tired that I have to write standing up to stay awake, I’ve written when I’ve been emotionally spent and truly have to wring something readable out of me.
There are times when I feel alone in this task, but what I set out to do, I can’t expect or honestly allow anybody else to do for me.
So when I received a few private notes today from readers about how they wished I’d expounded on the fact that our friends and family often are unwilling to engage in our interests even when we ask for their help, I realized two things: my intentions were misunderstood AND it is not easy to give ourselves over to other people’s ambitions.
The intention thing I think I covered above but the dealing with how others respond to us when we are knee-deep in the stuff that makes us feel alive, I haven’t addressed.
One reader wrote: “Why is it that our friends and family say “no” or make suggestions that they know are unreasonable when we sincerely ask them for assistance on something that is important to us?”
At first, I thought that maybe what he was saying was overblown, but when I thought about it, I admitted to myself that there are many times when I feel as though the people closest to me are not as interested in my hobbies and passions as I feel that they should be. If they asked more questions or acknowledged what they do know about what I do, maybe I’d feel more cared for, I’d feel like they put me ahead of some of the things they do that seem trivial to me.
And that is where the problem lies. What seems trivial to me often is something of great importance to them. Maybe it does deserve to be ahead of me in terms of what they choose to focus their attention upon. I certainly ask lots of questions about the things those I love care about, but when it comes down to it, if I am pressed for time because of something I’ve set up for myself, something I am passionate about, then, I’m less likely to respond as they’d like to whatever they present to me as something on which they would like my input.
So why do I feel so put out when they don’t respond to me as I wish that they would?
I’m not sure I have a thorough answer for the question. I know that when I care deeply about something, whether it’s a person or a project or a cause, I focus so much energy on that thing that I can’t imagine anybody not understanding the value of whatever it is I am doing or thinking about or addressing.
But in reality, they probably are equally invested in something they care deeply about and feel a little hurt by my lack of attention to what they are doing or thinking or addressing.
As a parent, I am programmed to put aside my own stuff when one of my kids needs me for something, whether it is physical or mental or emotional. As a spouse, I have often put aside my stuff when my significant other needs my support. As a child, I put aside my stuff when my parents require help that I am best suited to provide.
All of this giving is why I sometimes feel like I should be getting back what I need when I feel I need it.
When I stop and look at my past grievances against those I love, I often realize that they either were too stressed with their own life to get invested in mine at that moment or they actually did end up doing what I needed them to do. It may have not been immediately, but eventually they gave me the support I craved. And, when it came to the do or die stuff, somebody in my family has always come to my aid.
Life, though, is in the details. I know that I need to work harder at connecting with others on the things that matter to them, because if those we love do not feel loved or noticed or cared for by us, then we need to look at our priorities.
I have to come first in my life, but that does not always have to be at the expense of those I love.
The following song is an oldie but goodie that seemed to fit the mood of this post: “I Want You To Want Me” by Cheap Trick.
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