Since I now work from home, I think I’m losing track of the workings of the real world. I really do. True, my grip on how the world works has never been exactly vise-like to begin with, let’s face it, but now it feels like sands through an hourglass. Like I’m becoming mentally incontinent. That’s right. Incontinent. Not incompetent, although I’m always willing to consider there’s an element of that, but mentally incontinent. As if any kind of understanding of basic real world interactions just seeps right out of me even when I don’t expect or want it to.
So either I just don’t understand things on a basic intelligence level OR I think about things that other people don’t think about but wouldn’t understand either if they did OR I’m slowly becoming mentally incontinent.
Because here’s a weird thing I don’t get and don’t know how to handle. I think it’s a uniquely “female” thing, too, mainly because I don’t know any men who act this way or, rather, I don’t want to know any men who act this way. But this little scenario has happened to me a few times in the last year and I want it to stop because, frankly, I don’t want to deal with it. So it boils down to this: I just need people to be different so I can crawl back into my Howard Hughes hidey hole. Simple schmimple.
The scenario (culled from a couple of similar scenarios):
Let’s say you have a cyber acquaintance and you occasionally email on a personal but not-too-deep level. (I am not referring to anyone who reads this blog.) A few months go by with no communication between the two of you. Out of the blue, acquaintance emails asking why there’s been no communication and you’re put on the spot. Now again, the noncommunication has been mutual. She’s not communicated with you; you’ve not communicated with her. During these few months, you haven’t had a single thought about “why” there’s been no communication, but now that it’s put in front of you, courtesy of the acquaintance, you stop and think about it and come to the conclusion that it’s probably just been real life getting in the way. It’s not something you’re necessarily looking to dissect or diagnose or ….. blame. You literally have not thought a single moment about any “why” at all — until now, when you’re forced to do so. And that’s the irritation of it: Why are we women so quick to assume there’s an issue in this kind of scenario? Why does it need to be discussed AS IF there is an issue? And why is the noncommunication my fault when it’s been mutual noncommunication? Is it simply my fault because she brought it up?
And what do you do if the real answer to an annoying “Why haven’t we communicated?” is “Hell, I don’t know”?
Because, damn, I don’t know and “I don’t know” is not a good answer to give to a woman.
I know. I’m a woman.
So you write back, gently refusing to shoulder all the blame for the noncommunication, and say, “Well, now that I think about it, I imagine we’ve both just been busy.”
Both. Perhaps we’ve both been busy?
Don’t lay this all at my feet, peaches. Don’t play that game with me. See, because now you’ve gone and made me mad. I was going happily along, growing my corkscrew fingernails, doing my work, and BAM! my tissue-boxed feet are suddenly put to the fire — and that can’t have a good outcome, now can it? There was zero issue before and now, frankly, the issue is you’re irritating me. You’re making something out of nothing — which we dames are very good at and so, yeah, I’m tasting my own medicine and, boy, is it ever bitter — but besides that, you’re laying the blame for this non-issue entirely at my feet and all I want to do is kick it back in your cyber-acquaintance, wouldn’t-recognize-it-on-the-street face.
See, because now you’ve gone and made me mad with your non-issue but I can’t tell you I’m mad because there wasn’t an issue but NOW there is, and I can’t tell you that and still seem sane.
I cannot stand mind games. I hate them. Please don’t make me play them because I’m bad at them and, besides, I just don’t like being that …. person who plays mind games.
And, again, is this necessarily an issue? Sometimes it is, but sometimes it isn’t. When you’re mostly just acquaintances at best, when you haven’t shared all that deeply with each other, why would you create this kind of issue where one may not even exist? Why go digging for an issue with, again, an acquaintance? Why do you assume that an acquaintance should have that level of ….. I don’t even know what word to use ….. accountability to you?
I don’t get it. I really don’t.
Since I work from home, my colleagues are cyber colleagues. I’ve gotten to know a few of them and we IM back and forth during the day, sometimes with chit-chat, but mostly with work-related questions. Recently, at day’s end, I IM’d one of them to tell her to have a good evening or something and she wrote back, “I haven’t heard from you all day” complete with a frowny face emoticon.
Oh, for God’s sake.
I don’t know what was more annoying to me: the thought or the frowny face accompanying the thought. I was simply minding my own business, literally, but, still, my grade for the day?
You know, I could have said the same thing but the difference here is that I didn’t and I wouldn’t. I was busy working. I assumed she was busy working. It wasn’t personal. It didn’t mean a thing, my silence, and I assumed hers didn’t either.
Look, I’m as capable as the next woman of feeling insecure in my female relationships. I’m guilty too, so I don’t want seem like I’m somehow above the insecurity fray. I’m not. But this kind of thing — where there’s mutual silence, where there’s nothing that you’re expressly waiting/hoping for a response about — well, I try to avoid frothing about that. I’m very good at frothing, as evidenced by 99% of this blog, but it’s exhausting and it wears down the batteries, so I’m really trying to limit that in my life now. I have died on way too many hills in my life and it’s getting expensive to keep disposing of the body.
Since I got to be the one to try to smooth over another something from nothing, I said basically the same thing to this woman that I’d said to the other, something like, “I guess we’ve just been busy today!”
I did not apologize to either of these women because I didn’t feel that I owed an apology in either situation although I did feel like one was being fished for. I’m a funny girl, I guess. I don’t like feeling manipulated into believing a mutual noncommunication is solely my fault or that there’s even any blame to be assigned at all, so nope, no apology for you, Crackie.
Some things are just more complicated with cyber relationships. You can’t see a face and glean meaning from expressions. You can’t hear a voice and glean meaning from tone or inflection. It’s harder and trickier. But since that is the case, and especially when we’re dealing with acquaintances, just leave well enough alone. Assume the best. Don’t go digging for nothings. Don’t assume a closeness or accountability that’s not there. Don’t lay blame that isn’t deserved for scenarios that don’t even exist.
And, most importantly, unless you’re my mother, don’t send me frowny faces about my behavior, ‘mkay?