Speak Up Damnit!

Recently, I’ve been struggling with the vibe in my tribe. I’m the last person in my core friend group without a child and I’ve been feeling the burn. Mommy outings don’t include me, “family trips” are for little cousins and their mothers, and somewhere along the way, I lost my place. There was nothing I was qualified to go to anymore. Boys weekend is for the boys, girls weekend is for the mommies, and me? I can go to the Burlesque Show with the group…or I could if it weren’t the weekend I was expecting to ovulate.

I’ve been through this before with my tribe, which is both good and bad. Good in that I thought there was a chance I could repair the rift. Bad in that, looking down the barrel of single motherhood, do I really trust these goobers to have my back?

The jury’s out on that one.

Most recently, I learned that I’d not been invited on a trip with the mom’s and kiddos “because you really don’t like them, anyway.”

I was devastated. Like, cry to my mom, “What’s wrong with me?” sobbing.

Somewhere along the way, someone decided on my behalf that I’d rather be left alone at home, than to take a trip with the people I love, including the ones I don’t always get along with.

I’ll confess, my first reaction was: “Fuck this noise. If I’m that easy to leave behind then fine. I’ll do this myself.”

But that sounded more like hurt than the foundation for a decision. So I sent a message, apologizing for the way I’d represented myself to the group and took the night to really think about it.

Here’s what I needed to own about the situation:

  • I’m an introvert, meaning I don’t invite myself to shit unless I’m explicitly invited. Which means I’ve probably missed out on a lot of stuff I could have participated in, if I were better able to just assume I have a right to go, invitation or not.
  • There are people in the group I’ve not gotten along with, and among my extensive interpersonal skill set, faking nice isn’t one of them. Which means, that when I’m going through a rough patch with someone, everyone knows.
  • I wait a pretty long time before I start questioning what’s going on, and tend to assume that people think about me more often than they actually do. Meaning, I tend to assume that my friends think of me, and decide not to invite me, rather than think of an event, and get so busy they don’t think anyone for the most part. In short, I tend to take it personally.

Here’s what I needed clarification on:

  • Why am I not told about things at all? Why are decisions being made for me?
  • What happened that we all say we want to hang out…and then I don’t hear anything for months, or if we make plans, they fall through?
  • Are we really all just that busy these days? Or have I boxed myself into being “that single friend” and offended people?

Now, as an introvert, it’s super duper tempting for me to just sit back and use my epic people-interpretation skills to figure all this out on my own. But, the reality is, that never really works. There’s no way to know how people experience you until you just speak up and ask them. The trouble is, it’s really hard to speak up. Very vulnerable. High-risk.

And 100% essential to any long-lasting relationship.

So, I gathered my courage and asked.

“Have I behaved in such a way that the collective decision was to separate me from the rest of the group to avoid drama?”

Turns out, no. In an effort to be sensitive to everyone’s feelings, my friends were trying to play plutonic match-maker. It wasn’t a matter of avoiding my behavior so much as it was a matter of avoiding making me uncomfortable, and somewhere along the way, we lost track of just how much stuff I was missing out on, because of the assumption that I was uncomfortable.

Now, whether I believe this to be true doesn’t really matter. The reality is, it was an olive branch from someone I love. My goal is, without a doubt, to repair the relationship. And so, if this is the explanation that makes it possible for all of us to do that, awesome! I’ll roll with it.

This is a relationship lesson I’ve begrudgingly learned over the years.

The facts of the matter are much less important than what you both/all want to be true. Now, that’s not to say that the facts aren’t important at all. Accountability in a relationship is vital to trust-building. And, the more accountable everyone is, the more you can rely on the relationship to be what you need it to be. But when it comes time to mend a relationship? (Which is different than troubleshooting a relationship)  Let the facts be whatever they need to be to heal a relationship you’ve decided to keep.

And how do you start that process? You gotta speak up. Because as long as you’re holding your own experience hostage, you’ve got a 0% chance of saving the relationship and improving your experience.

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