by Madeline Laughs
I don’t have to try to be nice.
I just am.
Oh, so you think that’s a good thing, huh? Well, then why don’t you give it a try sometimes? That’s right. Why don’t you just try to be nice 24 hours a day, seven days a week and see just how long you can stand it. Here’s what being nice gets you.
Oh, I forgot we were having lunch today. I promise next time I won’t forget. You’re a nice person, so I know you won’t mind that I made you wait for me to call or that you rearranged your schedule for me today, right?
I forgot you loaned me this months ago. Um, and now I can’t remember where I put it. Sorry. But you’re a nice person and can probably afford just to buy yourself another one, right?
I just remembered you were in town! But I’m too busy now to get together even though I know you told me the dates you were coming long before you got here. But you’re a nice person and you have loads of free time with nothing better to do than to wait around for me to be free, right?
Me and a bunch of our friends had the best time together the other night! I guess we forgot to call you. We went here and we did this. Oh and thanks for inviting me to lunch today. It was fun! You’re a nice person and I’m sure you don’t mind that we never invite you to go with us, right?
Yes I loved all of those thoughtful and fun boxes of love you sent me while I was ill, but now that I’m feeling better I’d like to remind you of what a truly shitty person you are in front of all of your friends. But you’re a nice person, so I’m sure you’ll just grin and bear it and never say a cross word to me every single time I embarrass you, right?
I know you’ve done everything I wanted to do all week, but I have to insist that you not be friends with these people or I’ll stop talking to you and make your life miserable. You’re a nice person so I know you’ll do exactly what I say to do and do it without question, right?
I’d love to come to your party! Go ahead and invite me even though I already know I won’t be attending. It’s not you sweetie, it’s me. I’m just unreliable and flakey. You’re a nice person so when you tell everyone I’m coming and then I blow you off you won’t mind, right?
I was going to call you…
I know I promised…
Well gee honey, of course I’m your friend! I know that person kind of crapped all over your existence, but they haven’t done anything to me yet. Let’s just wait and see what happens. K? You’re a nice person so you’ll realize that by continuing to support the psychopath by letting him be my friend is just me…being nice, right?
I’m sorry I don’t call anymore or ask you to hang out, but I have a boyfriend now and don’t need your advice so much. Thanks for letting me lean on you when I did need it, but I’ll be moving on now Miss Doormat.
I know you have stuff going on in your life too, but I really only called to talk about me, so if you could just be quiet so that I can finish my story that’d be awesome. So be the nice person you are and just let me ramble on until I get bored and have to end the call.
Gee, I’m sorry my dog chewed the corners off of the hard cover books you loaned me and that it took six months for me to return them, but here they are. Want me to buy you new copies? No? Of course you’d never make me do that because you’re nice, right?
I have a birthday gift for you, but I left it at home. It will be another year or two before I actually remember to give it to you, and honestly there is no gift at all, but I felt bad because you always remember my birthday and you always give me a gift, so I figure this little white lie kind of makes up for the fact that I truly just don’t care enough to remember your birthday.
Look I have no idea how much planning or trouble you went to in order to put together dinners for all of us, but anything you can do, I can do too. Besides we can always just order pizza. Oh, so it’s your one contribution, your gift to the guests? I don’t think cooking counts. But you’re nice and you’ll get over it, right?
See what I mean? I’m starting to think it just doesn’t pay to be nice to anyone. Everyone these days seems to only be out for themselves and when you’re nice, they just crap all over you whenever it suits them. You can help them out all you want. You can give until it hurts and defend them until you’re blue in the face, but just as sure as the sun will rise in the morning the minute you stop putting out, they’ll cut your throat. None of the “nice” things you’ve done in the past will amount to a hill of beans when they get through with their character assassination.
I’ve watched quite a few of my friends get driven off of Facebook by one lousy sociopath and yet some of my own friends still support him by allowing him to remain on their friend list. They feel sorry for him and I have to wonder why. The guy is a lunatic and frankly, I don’t want him anywhere near me and now he has a band of minions that also do some of his dirty work for him by posting insults and threats so his profile doesn’t get reported constantly.
But I’ve been nice about this and have respected their right to have pity on him. It’s one of those times when being nice really hurts. I don’t comment much on their pages anymore even though I see the creep’s ex-wife comment all the time and I have to wonder if she’s bothered by his presence at all. I’m sure she has him blocked, just like I do, but knowing what he’s capable of and has already done to me and one of my friends with his spies, I still feel uncomfortable.
So being nice sometimes means operating outside of your comfort zone so that your friends can be nice too. Being nice means being quiet so you don’t get noticed and cause trouble even though you would never do that on purpose, but when you’re hiding from someone that’s bat shit crazy, being quiet is kind of your only option.
I update my day planner every year with my closest friend’s birthdays. I make reminders to myself to send birthday cards and gifts because I love my friends and want them to know that even if I can’t be there for their birthday, at least I can send them something to let them know I think about them.
One of my friends sent me a gift last year for the first time. I had it on my list of things to do to send her a thank you card, but before I could get one written and in the mail she was sending me messages asking me if I got it. That’s when I knew it was a big deal for her to send me something and I loved the gift and the thought behind it, so I thanked her profusely.
This year she started reminding me of her upcoming birthday a month in advance. I thought that was odd, but figured she didn’t want me to forget it was coming up. I was visiting her town and gave her the present in person and she was overjoyed.
My birthday has come and gone already last month and I didn’t hear a word from her.
If it wasn’t for Facebook no one would even remember I have a birthday. I got two birthday cards this year and gifts from my family and from one friend. I have never given this much thought, until this year. Why do I bother? Most of the people I think about during the year don’t seem to think about me all that much. So why is it something I put so much energy into? What do I get out of it?
Is it just because I am trying to be nice?
The only time not receiving a birthday gift or greeting has ever bothered me was when a family member refused to acknowledge the occasion. In over 20 years she has only given me 2 birthday gifts and she’s sent me one card. Her mother would start reminding me of her upcoming birthday weeks in advance “Don’t forget to get her something for her birthday!” One year I asked her why I should remember her birthday. She never remembers mine, I told her. Her mother was surprised because just like she does with me, she did with her, and she would start reminding my sister in law of my upcoming birthday weeks in advance.
She was perplexed and so was I. So I asked her. She told me that it was traditional in her family not to celebrate birthdays, they celebrated Name Days and not being Greek, I didn’t have one. I relayed this news to her mother who laughed “We’ve never celebrated Name Days in our family! I’ve never celebrated her Name Day! We celebrate birthdays!” The sad truth here is not that she didn’t remember my birthday, or that she celebrated Name Days. She just does not celebrate me.
This year I decided to honor her Name Day tradition though. I sent her nothing on her birthday. Since I have no idea when her Name Day is I guess she won’t be hearing from me then either. Does this validate me in any way at all? Do I feel better about her not celebrating my birthday? The truth is I just really don’t care anymore. I feel less stressful about not being appreciated and think this is the best option for all parties. It’s effort I can put towards someone that I really do care about, rather than someone I feel obligated to honor.
This year I considered knocking off the birthday calendar altogether and just doing what everyone else seems to be doing these days. I’d just say Happy Birthday on Facebook and be done with it. With the money I save I could probably go to Europe.
But you know what, I like doing my birthday thing every year. I don’t do it for you guys. I don’t do it for attention and I certainly don’t do it so you’ll like me.
I do it for me.
One of my friends asked me why I was sending her a birthday gift. She told me that she didn’t get me anything for mine. I told her that’s not why I give gifts and she laughed because she knows that’s true. I give gifts because I am capable of doing so and because the gift I get in return is the joy I see on my friend’s face when they open it. I like for them to know that their birthday is special and that I’m glad they were born and that I have the opportunity to show them that.
I sent boxes of thoughtful gifts to a friend that was going through chemotherapy. I wanted her to have something fun and nice to think about and to look forward to while she was being treated and I enjoyed putting those boxes together for her over the months.
Once she started feeling a little better I noticed a change in her interaction with me. She became judgmental and preachy and literally embarrassed me in front of a few of my friends with her comments. Finally I asked her why she was being this way and she triggered me by dragging me back to the past year. I hadn’t thought of any of that mess for months and was quite happy to be moving on. Why she felt she had to remind me of it, I will never understand. It had nothing to do with me anymore. She then reminded me of the crap she took by defending me and how none of that ever bothered her…but I think now that it probably did and that realization made me sad.
When I realized that being my friend had been a burden for her and that seeing what I posted bothered her enough to be angry with me, I deleted her on Facebook. I even apologized and told her it was not malicious. I just did not want to be the cause of discomfort for her. I also wasn’t interested in continuing to be a whipping post for her. I didn’t deserve it.
She reacted by trashing me repeatedly on her own profile page and dissecting my integrity and my character to the nth degree. She didn’t name me, which I was grateful for, but she made a point of letting anyone on her page know that I was “someone they all knew”. When I asked her why she was doing this she told me that whatever my “friend” was reporting back to me about her posts told me, they were wrong. She had nothing but nice things to say about me.
Well, if those were nice things then I’ve been doing it wrong all these years.
I’ve taken the high road and haven’t said anything that could ever be linked to her publicly and only shared private messages with a few people that have asked. I have nothing but respect for her, even though she has made it her mission to trash me. I have tried to be nice about this, but she continues to be judgmental and preachy and it’s starting to piss other people off too. I hope she gets all of this out of her system soon before she loses more friends over it.
What I find ironic in all of this is that she never displayed this much hatred for the sociopath that crucified me on Facebook, and yet she has done the same thing to me on Facebook that he did to me. The few differences are he used my name and he’s actually crazy. She’s didn’t and she’s not. But the crucifixtion is the same.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture.
What does being nice mean? Is there a safe place for nice people to exist and not feel forgotten or left out or shat upon? I’m not sure anymore about the answer to those questions. My world has changed exponentially over the last year and being nice some days has felt like a huge waste of time to me.
If I stop being nice there will be another asshole in the world and is that really worth it to me? I’m not sure what any of this means for me. I do know things are going to change though.
I’ll keep you posted.
- Social Birthday Tile now support sending birthday cards to friends on Facebook! (wmpoweruser.com)
- You Can Send Your Friends Teddy Bears or Cupcakes with the New Facebook Gifts (news.softpedia.com)
- Gorgeous birthday card for Catie (stampingpurrfection.typepad.com)
- No-gift birthday parties – making them work (sorted.net.au)
- Must Be My Birthday! (monicastangledweb.com)
- Make Special Birthday Memories with Personalized Birthday Cards from Treat! (susanheim.blogspot.com)