Tag Archives: friends

When You Don’t Know What to Say

“The friend that holds your hand and says the wrong thing is made of dearer stuff than the one who stays away.” –Barbara Kingsolver

This quote has always spoken to me, and I was reminded of it recently when a friend going through a rough time said I “always know the right thing to say.”

I laughed to myself, as that sounded ridiculous to me. While I might be good at offering a perspective I fail to absorb in my own daily life—denial is truly a gift, my friends—most of the time I just ramble and hope that something might stick, that I might be able to help ease just a smidgen of pain.

My problem is that I’m a “fixer.”

Unfortunately, there seems to be a string of pretty crappy things happening lately that proves we all have “something” that we’re dealing with that’s out of our control.

There’s no greater feeling of helplessness than to know that someone you care about is sick, financially strapped, in pain—physically or emotionally—or, let’s be honest, dealing with death—the reality of their own or that of a parent, a friend, or the horror of the loss of a child.

There are no “right” words, and at some point you realize that things happen to you and happen around you that can’t be fixed.

And it’s not your job to fix them.

I think a lot of people unintentionally ignore these things at times, not because they don’t care, but simply because they can’t “fix” them and have no clue how to react. Those who are sick or aging aren’t necessarily the same people we’ve known them to be, and selfishly, we want them to be the people they were before they got sick, before they got old, before they became so… mortal.

The realization that things will never be the same—and that you can’t fix it as such—is enough to make you stress yourself out in an attempt to save the world or conversely stay at home curled up in a ball, not dealing with it at all.

But just as much as you don’t want to deal with it, I can guarantee that the person who is sick or struggling doesn’t want to deal with it a million times more—but they do, often with courage and grace.

I think that in and of itself can be intimidating, the fact that you are lucky enough to be in a comparatively better position. The strength of those who aren’t can be inspiring beyond belief, but it can also make us question how we would be if faced with such a challenge.

It takes courage to face the unknown, but it’s much easier to do so when you’re on the right side of the coin, to be the one who has a choice.

But the fact is that as strong as they are or appear to be, they’re probably still scared. So we put the guilt aside for wanting them to be the people they were before they got sick, before they got old, before they became so…mortal. Because at their core, they are the same people.

And you know what?

They know that you can’t fix things, and most don’t expect you to. They have no choice but to deal the hand they were dealt, and sometimes they just want you to hold that hand.

They don’t want to do it alone.

That’s one thing I—and you—can fix.

Like the blog? Buy the books!

That’s What Friends are For

This is a little embarrassing to admit, but I don’t really have a best friend.

Growing up I had a few close girlfriends, but being stuck in school with hundreds of other people my age made that easy. You were pretty much forced to hang out and things like work and adult responsibilities never got in the way.

Fast-forward a decade or two, add in a heap of depression/isolation, less exposure to people my age and those pesky adult responsibilities, and friends became less of a thing. This is my fault—no excuses—and most of the time I’m okay with all that.

But then there are times when I’m not.

And it’s those times that I maintain that blogging has saved my life a million times over. I try to steer the direction of this blog away from “serious” things now—this will resume my next post—but there was a time when it served a much differentpurpose. Instead of staying inside my head—not always a safe place to be—I  allowed myself to be honest and vulnerable at times and created some of the strongest personal connections I’ve ever had.

That brings me to my point 200 words later.

 

I admit that for a long time I was embarrassed about the fact that I had so many close online friendships. I would differentiate between “online friends” and “friends” when talking with people, but then I thought, what the hell?

After all, we now live in a time when we have the opportunity to choose the people we want to surround us not by location or luck, but by similar interests, senses of humor, struggles and successes.

So much goes on behind the scenes of a blog or a website that never goes public—a sick child or spouse, a lost job, a mental breakdown that leaves you panicked and impulsively searching for any way to self-destruct (hypothetically speaking, of course.) But there are people online to remind you that even if you’re physically sitting alone, you never have to feel lonely.

If that’s not a friend, then what is?

And just because the people who “get” you might not be the people you see all that much, that doesn’t make the friendship less real.

 

True, the fact that I  feel like everyone who “gets” me lives thousands of miles away bums me out sometimes. But even though we might be spread wide geographically, I’m still closer to them than anyone I went to school with—by about a million miles.

They support. They entertain. They listen. They can talk you off the ledge that you’re on, knowing they’ve stood there before.

Because after all, that’s what friends are for.

Like the blog? Buy the books.

I’m a Fixer

I’ve been trying to come up with some sort of introspective post for the past couple of weeks, simply to balance out the snark and also drain my over-cluttered brain.

However, I keep coming back to the same things I’ve written before, so instead I’ve been journaling and curling up in the fetal position on my couch, keeping warm with a blanket of professional and emotional rejection slips and cat hair.

But I also came across this post that I wrote right around this time last year. It struck a chord and fits things right now so accurately, that for the first time ever I’m reposting something (and promise my next post is lighter.) 

Maybe someone can relate.


I’m a fixer.

Home improvements aside, if I see something that’s off in any way I have the urge to try and make it better. But there are certain things I just can’t fix, and it frustrates me to no end.

When I was little, the fact that my mom was in a full body cast or gone for weeks at a time for surgery was completely normal to me. I thought the X-rays showing all the hardware in her back and neck were neat, and we had a kick-ass collection of braces and medical stuff to use when my friends and I played around.

But as I got older, I realized that despite the fact that she tried to keep everything normalized, my mom was in pain. All the time. She still is. The realization that there was nothing I could do to make it go away left me feeling helpless. All the time. I still do.

At some point you realize that things happen to you and happen around you that can’t be fixed.

And it’s not your job to fix them.

I bring this up because there seems to be a string of pretty crappy things happening to those around me lately, and it feels like every day I’m confronted with another story that proves we all have “something” that we’re dealing with that’s out of our control.

There’s no greater feeling of helplessness than to know that someone you care about is sick, financially strapped, in pain—physically or emotionally—or let’s be honest, dying.

I think a lot of people unintentionally ignore these things at times, not because they don’t care, but simply because they can’t “fix” them and have no clue how to react. Those who are sick or aging aren’t necessarily the same people we’ve known them to be, and selfishly, we want them to be the people they were before they got sick, before they got old, before they became so… mortal.

The realization that things will never be the same—and that you can’t fix it as such—is enough to make you stress yourself out in an attempt to save the world or conversely stay at home curled up in a ball, not dealing with it at all.

But just as much as you don’t want to deal with it, I can guarantee that the person who is sick or struggling doesn’t want to deal with it a million times more—but they do, often with courage and grace.

I think that in and of itself can be intimidating, the fact that you are lucky enough to be in a comparatively better position. The strength of those who aren’t can be inspiring beyond belief, but it can also make us question how we would be if faced with such a challenge.

It takes courage to face the unknown, but it’s much easier to do so when you’re on the right side of the coin, to be the one who has a choice.

But the fact is that as strong as they are or appear to be, they’re probably still scared. So we put the guilt aside for wanting them to be the people they were before they got sick, before they got old, before they became so…mortal—because at their core, they are the same people.

And you know what?

They know that you can’t fix things, and most don’t expect you to. They have no choice but to deal the hand they were dealt, and sometimes they just want you to hold that hand.

They don’t want to do it alone.

That’s one thing I—and you—can fix.

Like the blog? Buy the book.

Paper, Plastic, Perspective

She was ahead of me in the checkout line on her phone and snapping her gum and orders at the cashier, all while looking as if standing there for five minutes was the end of the world. The cashier tried to make small talk, but was dismissed with a brush of this customer’s hand as she swiped her credit card through the reader.

I was annoyed just watching her.

When it was finally my turn to move up, the cashier began with the normal pleasantries as she started to scan up my order. I told her I was good and smiled, but made that little “eyebrows raised while looking at the back of the bitchy lady” face to let her know I felt her pain.

It was lost on her. She continued on with, “I’m great! How can you not be happy? It’s just always nice to talk to nice people.”

Now granted, I know for a fact from past experience that this cashier is a little bit “special,” and I mean no disrespect in that way. But seeing as she also tried to put canned goods on top of my bread, it’s possible she didn’t notice that woman’s rudeness. Maybe she did and she just didn’t care.

It was all a matter of perspective.

The bitchy woman was bitchy regardless, and while the cashier could have taken it personally or let it affect her mood, instead she just kept smiling and doing her job. 

As she continued to clumsily bag up my stuff, we continued our conversation about how it doesn’t take much to be nice, how just taking the time to smile can make all the difference in the world. 

This stuck with me.

There are moments when I focus on the bitchy woman instead of the smiling cashier, when the one negative thing out of my day will serve as the catalyst for a downward spiral.

I’m getting better with that externally, but I admit that I often see things that happen to other people through some sort of filter that inexplicably doesn’t apply to me. Anything positive is deflected when directed my way, but anything negative—real or perceived—is often absorbed and dwelled on in moments of doubt.

When I’m stuck in my head for whatever reason, I become blind to the simple things that could help pull me out, or at the very least, make me smile. 

Not cool, Abby, not cool.

So I suppose it’s a matter of realizing—no, not just realizing, but accepting the fact that (sometimes) I am a good friend, a good writer, etc. and that I do have great friends that care about me, even in those moments when I might not care about myself as much as I should.

Yes, that’s kind of cheesy and I’ll always be more sarcastic and snarky than sappy, but it’s all about those little reminders and perspective. If they can see the good in me with all my quirks and issues, then I want to try and see the good in almost everyone/every situation I face.

Except that bitchy lady. She was seriously rude and gave me the stink eye when she incorrectly assumed I was encroaching on her allotted grocery space. She can go fly a kite.

Anyway, everyone but her and those like her. The point is that kindness can go a long way—not to just other people, but also to yourself. I’m good at the former, and working on the latter.

Each day is a new chance to try.

Like the blog? Buy the book.

Breaking Through

“I was tied, but now unbound. My head is off the ground.”

I don’t have a lot of people that I’m close to, much more by choice than by chance. This wasn’t always the case, but after getting burned and disappointed one too many times, I built up walls and distractions to steel myself against ever feeling that way again.

“For a long time I was so weary. Tired of the sound, I’ve heard before. The gnawing of the night time at the door.”

But the thing about emotional walls is that they also keep you from feeling just about anything except numb. I’m okay with this most of the time, or at least I think I am until something happens and I’m reminded that while I can be okay with this, that doesn’t mean I have to be.

“Haunted by the things I’ve made. Stuck between the burning light and the dust shade.”

A good friend sent me a CD of some of her favorite music. I popped it in my truck on the way home and brick by brick, with each of the 12 simple tracks on the disc, the whole damn wall came crashing down.

“I said now I used to think the past was dead and gone. But I was wrong, so wrong, whatever makes you blind must make you strong.”

I pulled into my driveway and sat parked with the engine off and the music on. As I watched the squirrels hop from tree to tree, I did something I rarely ever do. I quit fighting it.

And cried.

“In my time I’ve melted into many forms. From the day that I was born, I know that there’s no place to hide.”

I’m not quite sure what “it” was that I was fighting. Not sadness over anything in particular, but rather a culmination of stress, of love, of loss…of life. Without distracting myself in an effort to feel, well, anything, I started to feel everything.

“Stuck between the burning shade and the fading light.”

There are times I worry so much about liking someone or something too much and having it taken away that I default to feeling too little or nothing at all.

I forget that most of the people that like me did so before I started trying to make sure it stayed that way, before I worried about what I said or did.

“Well you walk these lonely streets that people send. There are some wounds that just can’t mend.”

I forget that yes, I can be okay alone within the safety of my walls, but that doesn’t mean I have to be.  And while I know these revelations are usually fleeting,  it’s nice to have a reminder that I can feel emotion without feeling like I’m weak or broken. 

“I am free from all the things that take my friends. But I will stand hear till the end.”

That by opening up to people and showing vulnerability—to even just one person—I can gain so much more in the end. If I choose to, I can feel, well, everything.

“I was broken, for a long time, but It’s over now.”

Like the blog? Buy the book.

This rare display of emotion coincided nicely with the Studio30 Plus prompt this week:

It wasn’t what I expected.

How are you?

I’m pretty sure that I could win the lottery, discover the cure for human stupidity, star in a Broadway show and get married—all equally unlikely—and when asked this question, I would reply with, “I’m okay. How are you?”

It’s a reflexive action, kind of like the way I want to slip a right jab to the noggin of people who say “could care less” instead of “couldn’t care less.”

The truth is that yes, sometimes I am fine. Then again, sometimes I’m not. And when you ask me how I am, I have a hard time believing you really want to know. But since this is my blog and I am queen of the land, I will tell you.

I am secure enough to admit I am sometimes insecure.

This isn’t something I normally broadcast to the fives of tens of people who flock to this blog or that I run into on a daily basis, but whenever someone says, “You know who you are,” I always wonder if it’s me and I don’t realize it.

Insecurity is annoying.

But I don’t take compliments well and often have a hard time accepting that people might genuinely be interested in what I have to say or do and not just because they expect something in return. I realize this suspicion is often unwarranted, but past experience has shown me that I shouldn’t rule it out.

So I’m guarded, and many of the decisions I make are often second-guessed. In fact, I will see that second-guessing and raise you a third and fourth guessing, and then a couple days of obsessing over something seemingly minute.

Taking interest in others without expectation? No problem.

Accepting others can take an interest in me without expectation? Problem.

But I have a theory.

The more blogs I read or conversations I have with people, the more I see something in the people I am attracted to that keeps me coming back—a  rawness, perhaps?

My theory is that they’ve gone through “something,” whatever that is, and have a self-awareness that produces something genuine, something that pushes things past a superficial level—online or off.

I don’t share 99 percent of the things I think or write (you’re welcome) and I have to imagine that’s the case with others (so thank you.) But when we make ourselves vulnerable and share it? It produces some good shit, and most often, a genuine connection.

Because I can see that in them, I’m slowly allowing myself to believe that the people around me can see that in me, that they like me for me and not because they feel obligated or expect something in return.

Considering you interact with me under your own power—unless one of the henchmen I sent to your house to sit on you and force you to talk to me or read my posts is actually doing his job (good help is SO hard to find)—I’ll try and drop that insecurity.

After all, no matter what you say or do, someone will find a fault or a reason to be offended. And while I try and keep things light, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t express myself and hide behind that veil of doubt that creeps in from time to time.

So how am I?

I’m secure enough to say that I am sometimes insecure—especially when I post things like this—and I’m a constant work in progress.

I’m okay with that.

Thanks for asking.

This post is in response to this week’s Studio30 Plus prompt:

The Big Question

P.S.  I updated the “Book” tab on the blog to include a clip of me on a morning talk show in case you want to check that out. Or, you know, you want to buy the book.

I Was Just Leaving

Here’s the thing with me.

guess-kind-antisocial-last-cry-for-help-ecard-someecards

I’m really not anti-social.

It’s just that I’m pro-doing things by myself.

While I enjoy people to a certain extent, it’s simply that I enjoy them in small doses and preferably online where I can pick and choose my level of social interaction—and simply click away when they feel the need to tell the world how full they are from eating a normal meal, how much they love their significant other or how their boss is an asshole 800 times in one day.

And because I do have the choice, I will click away instead of dedicating this post to how social media has made me anti-social.

You’re welcome.

But when I’m forced into a (seemingly fun) social situation such as a holiday party or drinks with friends, I can openly admit that I’m more charismatic and enjoyable than one may expect. It’s like a social spark is lit, and if encouraged—or sipping my one drink of the night—I can shamelessly own the room until I leave. 

There’s the catch—the exit.

You see,  I never know how to properly leave a social situation, but I always want to go—quickly. There is about a maximum two hour window, at which point I’m like Cinderella running down the stairs towards her pumpkin carriage before the stroke of midnight.*

*Just sub in a pair of running shoes and a Chevy Blazer for the glass slipper and carriage, but when it comes to the cleaning and talking to small animals, me and Cindy are practically twins.

Anyway, I don’t know how to tell people that I only want to stay for an hour or so, as I don’t think “most people” would understand. “Most people” look forward to going out for hours and socializing, whereas I tend to get a little too excited when I am relieved of any social obligation that might leave me held against my will for an undisclosed amount of time.

So I make excuses both as to why I’m not going or why I have to leave, simply because I think it’s easier than going and saying, “This hour has been fun, but now I would like to go home, wash off this coat of mascara, turn on the game and crash on the couch. Good night now.”

That just seems rude.

If it’s a large event with tons of people, I can usually say a polite goodbye to the host and slip out unnoticed at a time of my choice. If it’s a small event though, I have to plan my escape accordingly and have a contingency plan securely in place.

The thing is, it doesn’t even have to be an event. It can just be a normal visit to a friend or my grandma that requires some sort of half-truth about how I have laundry in the dryer or that I have to go to the store, simply because I always feel the need to bail at some point 10 minutes short of a socially acceptable amount of time.

But in my defense, I do go to the store a lot.

While I know that making an appearance is often good enough—and I do usually enjoy myself for that hour or so—the stress of the exit execution often drives me to write posts about the stress of the exit execution.

See how exhausting this is?

I just thought you should know that if you ever invite me anywhere, you have about an hour of quality time before I’ll start looking like a claustrophobic cat. Depending on your tolerance for socializing with me, an hour might be just the right amount of time.

Anyway…well, this is a bit awkward.

I’ll just say this post has been fun, but now I would like to go home, wash off this coat of mascara, turn on the game and crash on the couch.

Good night now.

Like the blog? Buy the book.