Jealousy by mail

I was super stoked about my postcard from a person who is a member of an online group I belong to.  It was a surprise – we’d not been in communication.  There is a file where group members can share their addresses if they would like to get mail, so I left mine.  (I’ve covered up our addresses here with cough drops).

I thought it was really cute and inventive. The postcard has washi tape with botanical images on it, and rubber stamp markings. There is also a tiny envelope! How creative!

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This is what was inside.

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The cleverly designed thing folds out into a strip with washi tape with constellations on it.

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…but now I feel left out because of all that this person got.  She posted it on the group page and tagged her, so I know it is from her.

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…and here is a picture from another person – more stuff that she got from this member.

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Both say it was a surprise – that they weren’t already friends with her.

I’m really jealous.

Which is a terrible thing to feel because it wasn’t like she promised me anything at all.  I should be grateful, but in comparison to the other people’s mail, I feel sad and jealous.  And I hate feeling like that.

They had no way of knowing that there was any inequality.  But I’m sure there are others in the group who didn’t get a letter and they are wondering “why not me?”

It is something I wrestle with on my personal page.  Do I share pictures of a party I went to where some friends weren’t invited? They will know they were left out.

I remember in school we were told to bring enough (of whatever) for the rest of the class – or don’t bring it to share at all. We had to include everyone.

I hate it when my friends invite people in a shared group to go to a new restaurant or experience, and don’t invite me.  I know they didn’t invite me because they either don’t tag me on the invite – which I can see because I am friends with them, or because they post pictures of the “good times with good friends”, and I wasn’t there.

I hate it.  And it keeps happening. It happened all the time with the SCA “household” I was a part of. It is part of why I finally left. It made no sense for the head of the household to question why I wasn’t hanging out with the others. He implied that my husband was controlling me, that there was something ugly going on. Yes, there was something ugly going on. The head – and his wife – and other members of the household – didn’t invite me to these gatherings. Over and over and over. How could I hang out with them if they didn’t let me know? I was especially hurt when they decided to take a jewelry making class together and didn’t invite me – knowing that was one of my interests. But to then think that I wasn’t social with them because I was in an abusive relationship? Insane.  

And last night I’d finally had it and cried big ugly tears and I still don’t feel better about it.

Social media isn’t social sometimes.  Sometimes it just lets you know how much you are missing out on.  It feels like bullying.

Think before you post. Think about the feelings that will get hurt. Think about who you are excluding. You don’t have to share everything.

Do I invite everyone to events? No. But I’m discrete about it. You don’t have to invite a whole group to some happening. You may not want a large group. You may like certain people in the group more. But be mindful that you don’t let the people who were left out know that they were left out.

Now, I can’t control if other people who were invited tell them inadvertently and thoughtlessly. But I try to do my part.

My inner skunk

Today I’m getting in touch with my inner skunk.

They don’t attack. They just hold their ground. People tend to leave them alone and not cross them, because their bold coloring warns who they are.

I’m getting tired of people thinking I’m a pushover. I’m getting tired of feeling like I’m doing it all and everybody else is slacking.

Today I told the annoying page to pull her cart out of the walkway. I didn’t even care if she got mad. She gets mad all the time. She can say “Excuse me?” in a way that sounds like she is saying “Screw off!” She says “Excuse me?” when she wants you to repeat what you have said. She says it in just such a way that you never want to ask her anything ever again.

But today was it. I’d patiently waited for her to pull the cart out of the way on her own before, and thanked her for it, and explained how it is totally in my way when she puts her cart there. I did it that way because otherwise there would have been a confrontation. It went well for a while, but today it was halfway into the walkway again. There is at least ten feet of space she can work in, and she chooses the worst possible section that is totally in the way of traffic flow.

I am desperately trying to not say what I’m thinking too. This has been going on all day.

I don’t have any patience for people who only get movies. I’m jealous of all that time that they have. Then I wonder why they waste it the way they do. Then I wonder at the people who are there all day, who are my age. Don’t they have jobs? If not, why not? I’m jealous.

I’m angry that I’m angry. I’m in a bad mood about the fact that I’m in a bad mood.

I think about the teachers and counselors who have told me that I’m angry, when I didn’t feel like I was. The fact that they said that I’m angry when I don’t feel like I’m angry makes me angry.

Maybe “angry” is my normal, and I need to get used to it. I need to learn that this is who I am, or at least who I am right now. I spent so long letting people (especially my brother and boyfriends) walk all over me and push me around. I’m waking up from that stupor.

Skunks are seen as antisocial creatures, but they aren’t, really. They just don’t want to put up with anybody’s nonsense. They don’t start fights, but they don’t walk away from them either.

Approaching a dog – social conventions on physical space.

When you come across a dog, you don’t know whether it is going to bite you or not. So the safest thing to do is to crouch down and appear nonthreatening. You put out your hand, palm down, in the form of a fist. This way your fingers are not exposed. That way the dog can come up to you on its own terms and in its own time and decide if you are safe. It is up to the dog to determine whether you get to touch it or not.

The same is true of people. There are number of people, myself included, who have problems with physical space. I was abused as a child in multiple ways, and I only started learning about boundaries in my 40s.

Because of my past, I have problems with physically being around people. I am very uncomfortable with people coming up and randomly touching me. This is true even if it is someone I know very well, even if it is my husband. If he and I are alone together in the house he can still startle me with touch. If I have my back to him, such as when I’m doing the dishes or I am working at the computer, and he comes up to me to touches me or give me a hug, it frightens me. I have told him repeatedly to give me a warning because it because it makes me scared. He doesn’t quite seem to get it. It is foreign to him.

We have a family friend who has a young son who does not understand boundaries. He is like a bouncy puppy. He is a little overwhelming to me, and it turns out, to many others. As soon as I walk in the door at their house he opens his arms and walks into me for a hug. If we are walking outside, he will come up beside me and throw his arm around me. It is very startling. We haven’t been visiting with this family for very long, so there isn’t a history between him and me. Essentially, I haven’t given him permission to touch me.

He has very few friends his age, and has expressed difficulty making female friends. He is very socially backwards in many ways, and his parents have noticed this but are unaware what to do about it. His mother is very forward and direct like him. She does not seem to understand that not everyone is, so she does not know to teach her son how to “read” whether it is safe to be forward and direct with them.

I’m of course older than the middle-school girls this boy deals with, and even I didn’t know why I feel so uncomfortable around him. If I don’t know, then they certainly don’t know. I can suppress my feelings for the sake of not embarrassing him, but they don’t hold their punches. He’s becoming more and more socially backwards.

It was so uncomfortable that for a while my husband and I considered only visiting with them when he was not there. We have finally realized that God has put this child in our path for a reason, and that we are to be like surrogate parents to him. I still don’t know what to say, or how to say it, but I’m trusting that the Holy Spirit will give me the words, as Jesus promised his disciples.

I really don’t want to embarrass him by telling him how uncomfortable his behavior is to me and many other people. But I do feel that he wants to get along, and wants to know how to “play” the social game. It has rules that sometimes aren’t easy to learn.

One thing I learned when I was working with college students with learning disabilities was that sometimes dyslexia isn’t just about words. Some students with LD have a problem “reading” people and feelings as well. The social rules that we all take for granted are very hard for them as they don’t pick up on nuances at all. They become further and further isolated from the rest of their peers because of this.

I don’t want him to feel isolated, because that is a recipe for another school shooter.

It’s always the quiet ones…

There is a lady at my workplace who seems really antisocial. Maybe she is just shy. She stutters a little, so maybe she is afraid to talk.

I know very little about her, even though I have worked with her for 13 years. She likes football. I’ve heard she used to be a nurse. She has never been married. This isn’t much for all these years of working together.

I used to say hello to her when I saw her in the morning. If she replied at all it was a grunt. More often she would turn her eyes away from me and not even look at me. She would never initiate a “hello” or a “good morning.” This isn’t personal. She does this to everyone. She does this to her boss. Fortunately her job does not require interacting with the public.

I started to think about this. Maybe she doesn’t like to say good morning. Perhaps I am expecting too much. So I thought about it more. Perhaps she doesn’t see the value of social pleasantries.

It sure makes things awkward.

When she does talk it is to complain. She will suddenly speak up and say “I don’t mean to complain, but…” and then will launch into a complaint. This is the most common phrase I’ve heard from her. This isn’t a great thing to be known for – complaining, and not being friendly. Kinda makes me think about the stories in the news, you know, the ones where they say the killer was quiet and kept to himself.

Maybe she has a learning disability, and interacting with people is hard. Maybe she is embarrassed of her stutter and has decided it is easier to not talk at all. Maybe I’m making up a story so that I feel better.

I want to have a better relationship with her, but then again, I don’t want to. Sometimes I think I don’t want to go to the effort of making it work. It takes two to make a relationship after all.

Then I think maybe I’m trying to make her into my own image. I’m expecting her to be like me. I’m not letting her be her. Maybe being quiet and aloof is how she wants to be and I need to adapt to it.

Apparently I already have. I’ve not pushed it. It has been many years.

It still feels weird.