I attended a dinner party one evening, which went from lovely to awkward in 30 minutes flat. The hostess, who was a very gracious entertainer, chitchatted with me for a bit before introducing me to the one other single woman at this dinner party. This woman was going through an acrimonious divorce. I had been divorced several years prior.
That’s about all we had in common.
She went on and on about how she was going to take her husband—a surgeon—to the cleaners. She wanted his money, his house, etc. It seems he was cheating on her with a younger version of herself—blonde, socially ambitious.
She was looking for advice on how to handle some things. Also, a sympathetic ear. And pats on the back for what she was doing in fighting “the good fight.”
I could provide none of it.
We approached not only divorce—but it appeared life in general—from vantage points that couldn’t have been more different. And my intuition was clanging like a five-alarm fire for me to politely extricate myself from our conversation and find someone else to talk to.
The hostess had good intentions. She was planning a trip—mainly for couples—to an exotic location. She had invited me to join the group—and she thought this woman and I could be traveling companions. Because—in her mind—no divorced woman would want to travel with couples. Again, very thoughtful.
But pairing this woman and I up on the basis of divorce is like me pairing two of my gay male friends simply because they’re gay. Divorced women, like gay men and just about anyone else, are individuals. We don’t simply bond because we’ve been in the trenches.
The hostess’ expectations were what made me uncomfortable. Despite the fact that she didn’t press the issue, I felt somehow like I was letting her down by not responding the way she wanted me too. But, at the same time, I felt a bit ambushed as we sat at the dinner table discussing the potential trip. I did not go on it.
In similar fashion, I’ve listened to my intuition when people “in need” have reached out in very needy fashion. Whether it’s a woman going through a divorce or someone at a party who corners me, I listen to my gut. It’s not that I flee from people in need—it’s that I listen to my inner voice. When I am drawn to a person or situation, I sit with that. And when I’m not, my feet—usually very quickly—take me elsewhere. I think life shows us where we belong and where we do not. And if we feel strongly that we don’t belong in a situation, likely it means there is someone else better equipped to be in it. I am sympathetic, but sometimes that sympathy needs to be from a distance.
The older I get, the easier it is to weather the resentment that comes from not meeting others’ expectations for my participation of lack thereof. You know what I’m talking about—from the fellow mother at school, to an unrelenting boss, to a breakup that you intitiate—we all have people who expect things from us that have nothing to do with our agenda. And life is short. If we’re very wise, then our agenda is what we’re here to accomplish–and our intuition keeps us true to it.
I am finding that if you can weather the resentment that sometimes comes from not making their agenda yours, life is a far happier venture.
In the meantime, bring an umbrella. Sometimes, it rains cats and dogs, compadre.
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One of my guiding mantras was a quote from Humphrey Bogart: The only good reason to have money is so you can tell any SOB on the world to go to hell. Well, I eventually found out that the money part was the easy part. Having the courage and conviction to tell them to go to hell was harder. Much. Especially for the “invisible” child who grew up trying to please everyone. I’m getting better at it, but it’s been a long learning curve. Good on you for putting yourself first. It’s not an easy thing for some of us to do.
Aren’t you amazed at those for whom it IS easy? I wonder if it was parenting, a gene, dumb luck:).
I think it’s a combination (isn’t everything?), as in my case it was personality (genetics) plus birth order with a hefty serving of family trauma. Change any one of those things, and I’d be much different. But yes, I’m often amazed at how blithely some folks swan through life.
It’s interesting how, when we’re younger we feel a need to adopt or support everyone’s agenda at the expense of our own, in all forms of relationships. As we age, and realize that our happiness is not tied into what makes others happy, our lives become our own, our happiness more genuine.
Right, George? I wonder why that is? Maybe just growing into ourselves and being better able to weather the discomfort of “disappointing” others. Realizing that has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with their own expectations.
You are a wise woman, K. No two divorcees (or anyone else) are exactly alike.
I think if we could all accept and respect that truth, right there you have a start toward a better world.
Sri Yuktewsar said to keep the company of the Sat (the true), those who keep us peaceful, happy and make us feel good. And to avoid the Asat (the untrue), those who make us uncomfortable and agitated, at all costs.
And I think it was Shakespeare who said “To thine own, self be true.” It seams you have practice both of these very well.
I love it when you comment, Craig, b/c you always send me on a wonderful goose chase to learn something. I just looked up Sri–he is new to me . . .
You have such a wonderful way of looking at things, like “wonderful” rather than wild goose chase. Peace and Blessings
Oh, Kay, I, too, believe in listening to my intuition and refusing to become entangled with others when my gut issues warnings. Bud, sadly, sometimes I allow my middle-child, people-pleasing self to override my inner voice — and I always rue the day.
I sometimes do the same thing! And I don’t even have the excuse of being a middle child. I’m the youngest, so should probably be more selfish about it :-).
It’s empowering to trust our intuition and know what we need. Good for you for standing in your truth. 👏
Thank you! I know you do the same👍🏻
This really resonates with me. Sometimes distance is our most desired — and rewarding — refuge. We all need to be good to ourselves, and sometimes that means not allowing someone else’s negative energy take over our feelings and invade our thoughts. Being social is great, but only if it’s working for you.
I think our gut, even when its answer appears counterintuitive, is just always right. It’s one of the few ways the Divine can circumvent our ever-chattering minds. And sometimes, distance is what is called for, right?
I don’t blame you at all. That woman sounded negative and bitter. Even if she deserves to be, who wants to be the receiver for all that? I’m the same as you. If its not working, take your exit.
I guess the older we get, the more we realize what we take in really matters. And it takes a lot of energy to be around that and not take it in!
Good for you for listening to your gut. Ugh, what a situation. I had a friend for a while when my son was young – met at a mommy & me class, and after a while (outside of the class) I realized that just because we had things in common, didn’t mean we were compatible. As this was about ten years ago, it took quite a while and a good dose of Percocet (dealing with herniated disc in my back) to screw up my courage and move on.
I know it may not be a popular or common opinion, but I believe that people are meant to move in and out of our lives on a regular basis. I do believe some stay with us for the long-haul. But many are there for their lesson or ours and then it’s time for both to move on. That does not seem weird to me at all :-). Glad you found your courage!
I almost feel like maturity is telling me that I don’t have much time left and that all the recurring iterations of the shit I went through before have yielded their lessons, so “there’s nothing new to see here” when it comes to putting myself in or not removing myself from those situations.
What’s left in life is the space for things that matter. I want to be a friend, but I’m sort of done with the sadness sessions of people who are in their own way.
I hear you. I will be your biggest cheerleader if you need to vent and talk things through because you want to move forward or make a decision. But at a certain point, I will walk away if all you want to do is vent and sit in the same situation you’ve sat in for years.
Yup. It’s the same shit sitters that drive me batty. I can’t do it anymore; my days of kindly nodding are over.
The kindly nod only works for so long, right?😉
Oh my dear Kristine!
I always say that one of the benefits of getting older is we no longer put up with the “energy vampires”, and have an easier time of saying no and remaining true to ourselves. Who has got the time to waste on something that gives you nothing in return? Now, I’m not saying we must expect something in return for a kindness, but if we do give a kindness, we must feel good about it (fair, no?)
Some of us seem to attract those who need something. We are like the light to their moth.
It’s so funny, Dale, that you would mention energy vampires. Hey house just sentme a Dr. Christiane Northrup video on just that :-). Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something!
Funny how that Universe works. I absolutely believe in the power of it!
I had to break up with a girlfriend because she was sucking me dry…
what hard work that ‘holiday’ would have been!
You are so very right, my friend:). It would have felt like an obligation, not a vacation🌴🌴
For the lady you were ‘paired’ with Kristine…’revenge, first dig two graves’. For you, you probably would love a weekend away at a hot springs somewhere, then if you bump into someone that truly is a blind date…your blind date 😀
Oh yes, on the woman that I was introduced to. The more she talked, the more I could envision a future that would become even more toxic than it sounded like her marriage had been.
Kudos Kay on listening and paying attention to your inner truth.
Thanks:). The older I get, the more it seems the only choice.
I still have trouble discerning the signals.
I used to have the same issue. But, I think I have always been somewhat intuitive. My friends who are not find it helpful to do something that gets them out of their head-running, painting, gardening, meditation. Something that stops the constant mind chatter most of us have. And it is only then that they say they can truly discern what their gut feels versus what their mind is telling them.
True indeed! I’m quite often seen as selfish because I have chased after my dreams instead of doing what everyone else was doing. I started refusing blind dates after two horrible set ups. When someone says “I should have my friend call you because you have already…” the hairs stand up on my arms! Life IS too short to get bogged down with bad dates and baggage.
We should applaud each other for chasing our dreams, not impose our will on others! Truth:). Thanks for sharing.
How very wise and I totally concur Kristine. I imagine that you’re very easy to talk to so you attract those that need to talk. Then you have a choice. Either reach out and help, or extricate yourself politely. If you do the former on every occasion you’ll be dragged down. As you say, life’s short. But it should be long enough.
You nailed it, Roy:). We can’t all participate in everything we’re invited to, right?!
I stopped accepting blind dates because they only proved how much my friends who set me up didn’t know me. I wish I’d understood this “it means there is someone else better equipped to be in it” a whole lot sooner.
Isn’t it ironic, Judy, that we need life experience to help us better understand life experience? I think it’s one of the universe’s biggest jokes.