I’ve never been the sort of person that can set out to destroy someone simply because they point out one thing I’ve done wrong. I tend to stick to the subject and deal with that one issue rather than hit back with a litany of previously unspoken faults that person has done wrong, as if this justifies having done something wrong at all. I don’t understand people that can throw back these numbered and bullet pointed lists of your numerous transgressions when they’ve said nothing about them before. Do they just save them up for a rainy day?
I was gardening a few weeks ago and cut back a climbing rose bush that is clearly on my property. I had been in the yard with a helper working slowly since that morning. My helper was using power tools so we weren’t that quiet and it was pretty obvious what our objective was. Hours later when we were just finishing up the neighbor comes out to the rose bush where I’m standing and starts to complain about what we have done “to his yard”.
I kindly explained the shrubs we cut back were on our property but I understood about it interfering with his privacy and we had plans to replant something healthy that would grow huge in no time. That wasn’t good enough and the seemingly endless list he started spewing almost knocked me out of my gardening boots. He started to list complaints about our tenants and then he complained that he alone had kept the fence, which belongs to him, clean of vines for three whole years. And on and on and on. I could only stand there and wait for him to finish and when he was done I simply asked, “Why haven’t you ever told me any of this before?” He had no answer for me. It appeared his list of past complaints should have sufficed enough that I should feel remorse for not including him in my plan for my yard. I wasn’t buying it and asked him to stick to the objective which was really none of his business anyway but I’m a nice person so I’m planting shrubs like I planned and perhaps in the future he and I can wave to each other from afar.
*what was that about fences?????
If you have never brought the subject up as a problem in the past then there should be some unspoken rule of etiquette that you’re not allowed to bring it up now. Put on your big girl panties and move on because I am here to let you in on a little bit of truth; no one hears that list you’re reciting and more often than not the only person you’re describing in that list is you.
The list is a mirror of who you are.
- You avoid facing problems.
- You take on issues that are not your concern.
- You never do anything out of the charity in your heart.
- You harbor resentment.
- You are that bitter person that hoards perceived slights and insults until they erode your sense of goodness.
The sad truth is you never have to do that and the solution is easy and usually painless and here is it:
When you have a problem about something or with someone, tell them. Either you work it out or you walk away. Those are your options. Close the issue and let it go.
There’s this new behavior I can blame on social media that kind of follows the same path as the saved list of gripes. I have even been guilty of it myself though these days I am self aware enough to either delete the garbage or never post it. This new behavior is reliving the heartache, continuing to pick at the scabs, desperately trying to hurt the person that hurt them by posting about it. There’s a finesse to doing this because it seems they don’t want anyone to know they’re still bothered so they allude to someone with a “you know who you are”. That way if the intended target reacts they can simply say it was never about them and how dare they think their world revolves around them, etc. Do I even have to tell you what a narc move this is? It’s also gaslighting, another narc move.
Social media has made this the New Normal. It will even remind you of past transgressions with a “This is what you were doing in 2011 on this day”. Oh gee! I was just starting to hate so and so!! Let me just repost all of this vile and nasty, hate-filled stuff so I can remind all my friends what a jerk that person was to sweet innocent, never would hurt a fly me.
As heinous as the declaration of endless misdeeds sounds this reliving of them is just as deranged. Here’s some truth about that; no one cares. Even if they ask you if you’re okay the minute you start reciting some wrongdoing from two years ago they stop listening and start wishing they hadn’t bothered. Do you want to lose friends? This is a great way to do that.
How do I know any of this is true? I know because I’ve been on both sides. I learned the truth the hard way by stumbling around in it first. I’ve been that person with the list of complaints trying to make someone see what an awful person they were being. I’ve stood there and watched their confused expression change to disdain when they came to the obvious conclusion that I was never a good neighbor at all. I’ve also been on the receiving end of a concerned inquiry from me about a friend’s state of mind when they posted endless memes about how horrible people were. If the story starts out with, “About a year ago…” I already know what my friend needs to do. They need to get it out, work it out and then move on. You can listen but they have to do the work.
People rarely change. They can do better. They can become self aware. They can try to curb unhealthy tendencies much like they can lose weight. Losing weight takes work, patience and a great attitude and even then it’s something you will have to nurture and maintain the rest of your life. Until you are willing to “lose the weight” you will carry the burden of your own insecurities, your bitterness and your inability to function in a healthy relationship, for the rest of your life.
Take my advice, if you have an issue with someone that you would like to resolve then take it up with them, not with everyone else on social media. If the person you have a problem with won’t listen then walk away knowing you’ve done the best you can do for yourself. I’ve lived by this advice for almost ten years now and it has served me well. I am happier and less stressed today than I have ever been in my life. Occasionally I get a reminder of how it used to be but I never feel triggered to relive it. If it’s fresh I might say something to the person in private but those days of fighting battles in public on social media are over for me.
This is Madeline Laughs and if you have a list or a memory to share please make it a Bucket List of great adventures or memories you want to have with me. Those are my kind of lists!