Last night The Quiet Husband and I went to the same New Year's Eve party at the same house with the same friends that we have gone to for years and years. It's usually comfortable and relaxing and fun, but last night it soured for me almost immediately. No sooner had I walked in the door than one of our group, a woman to whom I am not particularly close, made a humorous remark to me which almost ~ but not quite ~ disguised the criticism that lay under the surface ~ as she had at her own Christmas Eve party a week earlier, and as she had at at another event we all attended a couple of months ago. (OK, I might have asked for that last one.) This particular holiday season has been a rough one for TQH and me, and the consequence of her veiled barb was an immediate sense of overwhelming exhaustion on my part. We left the party at 1:00, at least an hour before anyone else, pleading sleepiness and too much holiday activity.
I have my suspicions about why this particular woman is irritated by my presence these days. And I wanted to express myself on the topic, so I called another friend, and began with, "What's up with So-and-So?" Now mind you, I didn't really care what was up with her. I just wanted to whine about being misunderstood and verbally undermined and not being loved and adored in general.
But my friend didn't pick up on my neediness, and launched into a long and sad tale pertaining to the work- and adult child-related travails of the woman in question. And, no, I'm not being sarcastic when I reference the long and sad tale of travails -- she really is dealing with a stack of challenges, all with long-term implications and some unlikely to be resolved, not in this lifetime anyway.
Most importantly, not once during the conversation did I succumb to the intense desire to explain why I had asked about her at all. I just listened and stored up information that will enable me to be more generous in the future.
So . . . listening? About putting a lid on self-centeredness and noticing what others are experiencing.
SO counterintuitive for me!