Friendship

Was It Retrograde… Or Was It You?

Just as I was about pondering what I should write about, my Kombucha literally exploded all over my keyboard. I sat there for a second just staring at the orange goop as it sprawled over the table and my laptop, before I ran to get paper towels. As I cleaned I thought “one last kick in the pants from retrograde, thanks…” It’s been a rough couple of weeks. 

If you’re not sure what retrograde is I’ll expound. Basically it’s a celestial Murphy’s Law that supposedly occurs a few times a year. It wreaks havoc on communication and electronics. I personally am not superstitious…but I am a little sticious so I do the standard say as little as possible and triple check your files when my friend who understands these things way better than me alerts the group chat that it’s about to be our least favorite time of year. 

Normally I’m cool. This year not so much. Misunderstandings, private tears, nonsense with ex situationships, missed paychecks, tense work meetings all escalated over a period of three weeks. While obviously I personally was not responsible for some things (thanks Mike in payroll…) looking at my kombucha made me wonder how many instances of disruption were actually my fault. Why you may ask? Well, I have drank hundreds of bottles and cans of kombucha. I’m well aware it’s carbonated. However, I slowly began to realize as I creeped through my actions, that I had indeed shaken the bottle then opened it. Any way you cut it, it was actually my fault that my computer now smelled like Mystic Mango. So what else was my fault?

I’m a big believer that it takes two to have a miscommunication. Even if you’re not the one who is “at fault,” you are in control of your response. I feel as soon as you lose control over your responses you have contributed to the miscommunication. If you keep escalating to prove your point until there is nothing left but a bloody carcass that was supposed to be your conversation, you can’t just blame the other guy. I move through life with this as a guide for engagement at all times. Controlled, perfect, metered responses when I see the fire starting. I might disagree but me losing my temper is rare. Sometimes I honestly wonder if I’m an introvert by nature or sheerly because of my distaste for conflict (to be addressed in another post I’m sure). But recently I ran into a situation that I’d love to blame on retrograde, but I feel some accountability is in order.

I’m often the mediator. Called in when everything has hit the fan. Sought out when someone has broken something and they can’t quite figure out how to shift it back together. So you can imagine my almost shock when I pointed out that something was “broken” to someone and their response was “I know. Don’t fix it.” Looking back I think maybe it actually was one of the few times I was enraged. I just didn’t know it at the time. I mean who just walks around with broken stuff? It’s weird right? Unusual!  So, what did I do? In hindsight I must admit I kept bringing it up in one way or the other. I never directly said “hey remember that broken thing I told you about?” I just let it leak out in other ways. Pointing out other things…other situations that…led right back to what was broken about the person. Now it’s your turn to be shocked. They didn’t care for that and eventually exploded. Surprising I’m sure. To be fair this person also doesn’t explode often so we were both kind of shocked, however I believe I still didn’t evaluate the deeper issue. While I sat that particular incident aside, I still communicated with the person the same way.  It  wasn’t until much later after what I like to refer to as the emotional carousel of crappy crap crap occurred that I realized what was wrong. It wasn’t that this person didn’t want to process what I was saying, they couldn’t.  It was like they were allergic to what I was trying to present and for all my empathetic ways I missed it. And I had to admit, that’s a me issue not a them issue. 

“Siri, play Beyonce’s Ego.” That’s right.  My savior complex had kicked in and I forgot that before anyone can let you help  them, they have to trust you. If they just let you “save” them, but don’t trust you…they are actually using you. Using you for whatever emotional labor they needed at the time and then possibly moving on. So, while I’m found to be delightful, I’m not fully trusted. Which in all reality is not a bad thing. It means my friend wants to build a lasting relationship with me. Now could they have just told me that? Sure. But the reality is we just have two conflicting natures. It doesn’t mean we will not be the best of friends eventually but it does mean that from time to time we will hold up mirrors to each other and yell “Is this your king?” It’s one of my favorite movie lines so I’m okay with that. 

So instead of simply brushing off miscommunications as some cosmic practical joke, no matter the dates, I think we should  revisit our misunderstandings with the people  that actually matter to us. See where you could have been a better friend and human. Not everyone needs the same things from us.  We should be okay with that and if we really care we should be willing to say “Yeah, that wasn’t retrograde, that was me. I’m working on it.”

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