Sometimes listening for what hasn’t been said is the key to understanding communication breakdowns. I have learnt this the hard way.
Communication is not letting one person blab about how every day is the worst day of their lives and wishing you were doing something, anything else. It’s not blame games via myspace blogs. It is not snarky text messages asking who ate the last of the biscuits or left the fridge door open. It most certainly isn’t assuming that because someone can’t always focus all their energy on you and your problems that they hate you or are disgusted by you. You know what else is definitely, definitely isn’t? returning all the photographs you have of a person to the person (the already horrified, traumatized and downbeaten person who doesn’t even realize where it all went wrong) These are made up thoughts, misdirected and meaningless words/actions and repressed real emotions and often really cruel ways to hide true meaning. These are dead ends and poor relationship management skills on both ends.
I grew up in a household where when people were angry or upset they yelled at one another in order to communicate feeling/s. Aggression is not the best form of expression but it is still a form and at least I always knew where I stood. Though I have always put my own feelings on the backburner, being somewhat of a martyr and like my mother; always wanting those around me to be happy (before I myself could possibly consider my own happiness), I have learnt a lot about emotional responsibility in my (almost) 21 years of life. Firstly that my happiness is my responsibility and that others happiness is not my responsibility. When I say responsibility I mean that there is only one leader and perhaps everyone around them is part of a team they may utilise to guide and assist them in their own happiness but in the end if it all falls apart there are no scapegoats.
I believe that communication, spoken and unspoken, natural and prompted, is the glue in relationships. No matter how horrible you feel about your life, it is your responsibility to take control and steer it in the direction you want it to go in and usually this involves letting others in that can help you. You cannot always expect people to guess or just “know” somehow when you are stuck or needing help and you especially cannot blame others for your own unhappiness. COMMUNICATION.
Unfortunately unhappiness is a little infectious, especially when living or working in close confines to other sad sacks. When I was a kid, I had some sessions with a child therapist because I had trouble communicating and understanding other children. I blamed other children for the fact that they weren’t my friends- it must have been them, not me. I became paranoid and self-hating from the young age of 7. Luckily I was trained out of these negative thought patterns (not that I ever became miss popular) and realized I was just being a freak and that other children also liked walking around the playground picking flowers and singing to them and making daisy chains and that it was up to me to find them and befriend them. I was also encouraged to make up an imaginary figure called “sad sack”- a sad little boy version of me with blonde hair and blue eyes who understood my feelings of isolation and who I could unload onto instead of risking one day exploding from repression and alienation and also so I could stop using the people who cared about me as sad sack punching bags of blame and guilt. I always thought creating imaginary friends was an interesting activity for trying to mend an inability to make real ones… but it worked okay (although I’m still a bit of a freak- but I discovered there are other freaks too so it’s all cool!).
Do you think you might need a sad sack so you can stop being one?
P.S I’d dedicate this to someone in particular but I’m hoping one day we might re-kindle our friendship.