I have had a very rough weekend, and I am still reeling from it … so much so that I have another therapy appointment tomorrow. I ended therapy years ago, and now this is my second therapy appointment this summer. That tells you what a challenging summer this has been.
Without going into the specifics of the blindsiding because the pain is still too raw, I’ll share an example of what I am talking about so we can discuss it. I can’t be the only one this happens to, and I would love to hear your insights on how you deal with this.
Let’s say that I am routinely 10 minutes late wherever I go. (I have chosen this example because I am a stickler for punctuality and have, therefore, been on the other side of this issue.) I don’t intentionally mean to be rude or keep my friends waiting. I simply have trouble managing my time effectively. It is nothing personal to the other person, and I am not intentionally trying to upset the other person. I truly have the best of intentions – this is just a part of my personality that could use some refining.
I show up 10 minutes late the first time I meet a friend for lunch. She says nothing about being annoyed with me. I even apologize for running late, and she says don’t worry about it. I show up late a second time a week later, and I get the same reaction … and the next week and the next. Because my friend has given me no indication that my tardiness is an issue, I take that off my list of things to worry about. I assume that my friend knows that being tardy is a part of who I am and loves me anyhow, so I let down my guard and just be me which, in this example, is running late.
Then, one day three years later, I am 10 minutes late, just as I always have been, and my friend “attacks” me for it, telling me that she has held her tongue long enough, this has been bothering her for years, and that it needs to change immediately. I am completely blindsided by this reaction because my friend has communicated for years that she is OK with my tardiness and loves me for who I am, and now she has hit me over the head with a sledgehammer for something that I never knew was a problem.
Again, I am a very punctual person, so please don’t provide me with time management tips. I am actually on the other side of this dynamic in a few friendships. I accept that this is a part of who they are and that they don’t mean to be rude by keeping me waiting. I determine that all of the wonderful qualities they bring to the table outweigh my having to wait on them when we meet. I change our meeting times from 3:00 to “3:00ish” and take my own time getting there when a meeting time really doesn’t matter. If punctuality really does matter (such as going to a movie), I suggest we meet at 2:45 so we have time to get popcorn. That builds in tardy time … problem solved.
So, why is it that I am not returned the same courtesy? Why is it that people think it is being “unkind” to tell me up front the first or second time that they are bothered by something I do or don’t do but then think it is reasonable to explode with no warning after lying to me that everything has been okay for a long period of time?
Photo credit: Hekatekris