Posted by: Marie | July 6, 2012

(664) Not everything is my fault – Part 4 of 4

Post #664
[Private journal entry written on Friday, August 5, 2011 about a conversation between my therapist and me – continued from previous post]


Me: While I was a few steps away from the group, they started talking with someone else. I didn’t want to interrupt, so I just waited until they were saying their good-bye’s, then I asked them if they would like my card . . .

The guy asked what kind of business I have . . . I answered that I teach piano lessons. He abruptly and gruffly said that he wasn’t interested in piano lessons, so, no, he didn’t want my card.

Photo by Martin Chen

Of course, I was thinking my card would provide contact info for when they were ready to rent the house. I guess he was thinking I was trying to recruit students.

His response caught me off-guard . . . I stood there awkwardly with my card in my hand . . .

I didn’t want to make a big deal of it . . . I didn’t want my housemates to think I was trying really hard to move out of their house . . . I figured I could catch up with the couple at a later time . . . but it was an awkward moment because everyone was looking at me . . .

So, trying to handle it with graceful humor, I jokingly turned to the other couple who were preparing to leave and laughingly said, “Well, would YOU want my card . . . ??”

They declined . . . it turned into a very, very awkward situation . . .

And, after everyone left, my housemate, Susan, made a point of telling me that she didn’t appreciate me trying to recruit clients during their social events . . . that it was in bad taste for me to try to get business during a party to which I really hadn’t been invited . . . that it was in bad taste for me to take advantage of a situation where people had graciously reached out to include me in something to which I hadn’t originally been invited.

She said that it might have been a little different if I had been at the party for the whole time and the matter had casually come up in conversation, but she didn’t appreciate me being at the party for only a few minutes and then asking people for their business.

I tried to explain what happened, but she told me that, regardless the reason, what I had done was in bad taste. So . . . whatever . . . the whole thing left a sour taste in my mouth.

You know . . . I was way more comfortable when I would go out to the bars and drink and dance and behave inappropriately . . . but, now that I’m trying to behave in a more respectable manner, I feel like I don’t fit . . . that I don’t understand how to operate within these social situations.

Edward: Could it be that the issue is with the other people and not with you?

Me: What do you mean?

Edward: I mean . . . don’t your neighbors know it is impolite to turn away and start another conversation while in the middle of one already in progress?

I mean . . . is that guy so unaware of what’s going on around him that he didn’t understand why you were giving him your card . . . why you were giving him your card with your phone number on it so he could call you when he is ready to rent the house . . . ??

Me: Oh . . . I see . . .

Edward: Do you think it might be more helpful to you for you to take less responsibility for everything that goes on around you?

Me: Well . . . maybe . . . I can see your point . . . I guess I’ll have to think about that some more . . . that’s a whole new way of thinking about what you’ve said . . .

(After a pause for thoughtful pondering) Well . . . and maybe I’m having trouble with some of this stuff is because the conversations are usually very superficial . . . and superficial topics are not so exciting to me . . .

I can only talk about the weather so long and then I want to get into stuff that really matters. With the people my housemates usually hang out with, the conversation is usually superficial.

Edward: So tell me . . . what really matters to you?

Me: I really care about whatever provides joy to people . . . things they are passionate about . . . I want to know what makes people light up . . . what brings them to tears . . . that’s the stuff I want to talk to people about.

Edward: And where might you find people who want to talk about those things? Obviously, you aren’t finding people like that at your housemates’ parties . . . so, where might you find them?

Me: Well, I’ve found people like that in hiking groups . . . and in “new thought” church groups . . .

You’re right . . . the people who attend my housemates’ parties are not the people with whom I prefer to spend my time. I guess I could make a point of doing my socializing with groups of people who share my interest in meaningful conversation . . .

Edward: And maybe you could decline to attend your housemates’ parties . . .

Me: Well, I suppose so . . . I’d just never thought about the option of not attending. I tend to isolate – it is really challenging for me to force myself to participate in social events – so I see those parties as a way to have social contact with people.

My thinking has always been that I can’t really “afford” to turn down any halfway decent opportunity for respectable social interaction. But, maybe I’d feel more fulfilled by the human contact I do have if I were more selective about with whom I socialize.

Edward: Yes, I believe you would.

(Once again, we sat silent for a few moments as the wisdom of these last exchanges settled around us . . . )

Me: I see we are out of time . . . I guess we never got around to the topic you had planned for us to cover today . . .

Edward: And that is perfectly okay. It seems you had a lot on your mind today . . . and those topics have priority. I’m glad we were able to address what was foremost on your mind.

Me: Me too.

Edward: In closing, I would like to extend an assurance . . .

Me: Okay . . .

Edward: If something comes up for you in between our sessions, please call me. Or, at least send me an email. I’m here for you. I’d love to hear from you in between sessions. You are worth my time and energy.

Me: Thank you . . . I’ll keep that in mind. A lot of times there are things I’d like to touch base with you about, but I don’t want to be a bother unless I think I won’t get through the situation without your help – and that is very rarely the case.

Edward: I understand . . . and I’m telling you that things don’t have to be that bad before you can contact me. I enjoy hearing from you.

Me: Okay . . . thank you.


And that brought us to the end of the session . . .


  1. Hi Marie, over-responsibility is a bitggie I think. I wonder if it will come up again.

    And I hope you found some people to have deeper conversation with. Even after a little superficial conversation I get impatient. Too much drives me nuts.

    • Hey, Evan –

      I think part of maturing and healing is recognizing what is my responsibility and what is not . . . and those are not always the easiest lessons to learn!

      – Marie

  2. oh how awkward, my heart goes out to you! i also struggle in social situations, goes against my solitary nature. i look forward to reading more as you work this one out

    • Hey, OBD –

      I think it is not only learning how to be with people in a healthy way, but also about listening to when I do want to be with people and when I don’t . . . and about listening to whom I want to spend time with and whom I do not . . . lots of listening to myself . . .

      – Marie

  3. I can absolutely vouch for the fact that it’s them, not you. Having done very hard work, myself, to find social interactions where I am comfortable, respected, and appreciated … it’s made me very much more aware that the awkward, stupid crap that used to happen to me wasn’t really about me … or it was about me only in the sense that I wasn’t prepared to say things along the lines of: “Do you really not remember that we were talking about that rental, and it might be easier for you to contact me if you have my phone number?”

    On the Fourth of July I attended a party/barbecue given by one of my real estate clients. Twenty people and two children were in attendance. All the guests, except me, were in their middle to late twenties. Offhand I’d say that nobody there had an IQ under 130. They were all engineers, scientists, and software developers. At several points in the party, there were people happily sitting by themselves, not talking to anyone, eating their lunch. Nobody bothered them. Nobody tried to jolly them into participating differently. The entire gathering was so quiet and low-key that you could hear conversations all the way across the yard. There was a giant cooler full of beer, and a couple of bottles of whiskey; in four hours, nobody even came close to having too much to drink. One of the conversations I had — with a 24-year-old designer of museum exhibits — was about international fountain pen collecting.

    The civilized people are out there — and they will be so delighted to welcome you.

    • Hey, David –

      I found your tale about your July 4th celebration very interesting . . . I have a hard time imagining such a scenario. I think it would be an enjoyable change to what I often encounter! It sounds very pleasurable!

      I find that I expend much energy trying to protect other people’s feelings . . . I believe I can’t say what I’m thinking because it would embarrass them; so, instead, I must put the embarrassment upon myself. I haven’t gotten to the point where I feel able to handle that differently.

      Thank you for putting these new possibilities in front of me!

      – Marie

  4. I can really relate to trying to socialize, even if I don’t feel drawn to the people, because it’s something I ‘should’ be doing more of. I thought the interactions you describe extremely rude on the other people’s part. Turning away from a conversation in the middle – very rude. But I also would tend to blame myself for being boring. And I would never ever refuse someone’s business card, whatever the reason they are giving it to me. I have a business also, and do give out cards sometimes – it’s just a part of business life. I thought your housemate’s view was ridiculous. Hope also you found some better people to hang with.

    • Hey, Ellen –

      It seems to me you are a very thoughtful person! It seems you are very aware of what others might be feeling.

      I am starting to find a different kind of people to hang out with . . . and it has required me to step outside my comfort zone many times. But, I’m learning to relate to people in a much more rewarding way . . .

      – Marie

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