The weather this March has been amazing! Usually March tends to be blustery and slushy and gross, but this time there are sunny, warm days. I’m still a bit skeptical, Vermont spring likes to fake you out a few times before it is really here.
So I have been trying to think of what to write about other than the five inch human in my abdomen. I’ll go with what has been bugging me lately. I was really bothered the other day by the fact that a friend lied to us. Not even about anything significant, just stupid, avoidance-type lies. I recognize that I shouldn’t take it personally because he lies about stupid little stuff all the time. The thing that irks me the most is the fact that I KNEW he was lying but I just kept nodding and smiling and keeping up the social niceties. Really, the question that bothers me is WHY?
I feel like lies (all those silly white ones and big ones too) and pretense make up way too much of the fabric of social interaction. People pretend, they wear masks, they cover up, they say things they don’t mean, they act all chummy with people they don’t even like. People misunderstand things and make assumptions and misinterpret things others say and do, but no one directly confronts it. No one dares to be honest and real. They avoid confrontation and spare feelings.
People worry about sparing the feelings of others, but what drives them even more is sparing feelings altogether. Anything other than social chatter and joking around is too threatening. Not to say that anything is wrong with social chatter and joking around, I absolutely love it. But then there’s the hypocrisy and the avoidance and the lies that seem to be required to maintain it.
This baffles and wounds me in ways that are hard to explain. Maybe the exclusion that comes with hearing loss gives me a different angle on all of this, due to watching from sidelines. I spent too many years watching and wanting more than anything to be a part of it. When I began to become part of it more (once no longer confined by the roar of hallways and cafeterias), I discovered the difference was very baffling and painful. When it comes to socializing, appearance and reality are not the same.
I love to get down to the roots of perceptions and assumptions and reactions, making sense of where they came from and why. Comparing and realizing the origins of misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Insight, healing and reconciliation. Not this pretense and distance “everything is great!” b.s. Yet, more often than not, I go along with the surface stuff. I play along and keep the confusion and intuitions to myself. If I want things to be more real, I should initiate it more.
Steve and I have a couple friends that we’ve actually started doing this with, it has been really cool and a fascinating process. Even though we have all expressed our intention to do this, almost as an experiment of sorts, it is amazing what a hard habit it is to break. The social niceties and the pretense. Keeping internal reactions, confusion and surges of annoyance to one’s self. Rationalizing and explaining away thoughts and feelings in one’s head without even checking with the other person.
With these friends we tend to go back and analyze what happened and share our reactions and compare perspectives (and it is incredible how often it leads to dramatic realizations about one’s blind spots, past trauma, negative or outdated beliefs, among other things). We’re still trying to get to a point where we can do it right in the moment. Where we can experience our feeling in the moment (sometimes that’s a tough one right there), then say directly “Wait, what did you mean when you said that?” and explain how we experienced it. In this process, no one tries to cover up feelings, ignore them, state platitudes or make jokes so that it goes away. In those moments, everyone can truly express and truly hear each other.
When this happen, angry outbursts and emergence of hurt or negative feelings that are so feared and avoided in the regular social get togethers do not occur. Instead there are revelations and genuine closeness, safety and trust. There is deeper understanding and my perpetual state of turmoil in regular social situations goes away. This is the way friendships should be.
Mar 17th 2009Everyday life & Friends & Hearing loss & Introspection