Isolated Words on a Page

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Thoughts on a Sunday, Pt.3

I have difficult thoughts to share today. Troubling, in how they may present my attitude.

If you don’t know a person beyond a screen, or symbols, then any appearance becomes one-dimensional. Should a well-known, recognized voice be isolated to a word on a page, the collective experience is still felt by the recipient. They know enough about the person or position, or title to provide a little more backstory…more context…maybe even consciously hear a voice in their head.

But for a voice that no one has ever heard, or a face no one knows how to recognize, what happens to their isolated words when read? Those words are left to the sole interpretation of the recipient and fed into the algorithm of their lives to make sense of it.

Because when we can’t draw from the known sense of another, we have to use our own. Either that, or we simply don’t care.
So for me to say that I’ve recognized recently, in my life, the flagrant abuse of my time, work ethic, and availability from others can come off so many ways.

“All Bryce does is whine. I have enough going on in my life without hearing his sob story.”

“I can relate to that. I feel exactly the same, and the hardest part is knowing what to do about it.”

“What is Bryce basing this off of? What kind of life does he have? Who are his friends or colleagues? Do I know anything about this man to determine how I should feel about his statement?”

“I bet the people Bryce is referencing are the ones he’s abusing. In my experience, the ones who complain the biggest are the ones to are giving the biggest reasons for others to complain.”

“How does Bryce term ‘flagrant abuse?’ What’s his threshold? How is he handling feeling this way? Is he acting out? Is he holding it in? Is he ignoring it? Has he talked to these people, or attempted to resolve it?”

“Bryce needs to take a chill pill and get over himself. Life is hard all over, and if he feels like people are using him, then he needs to dump them, get rid of them, sever them from his life. Move on.”

“Peace is found in God, and forgiveness is real. If Bryce feels this way, the best thing to do is forgive those who’ve hurt him. Let love and time heal the situation. Let it be a learning opportunity…a stepping stone…and become better.”

You know there’s no way for me to account for all the possible responses to my statements. It’s intriguing to try, though.
I often wonder how my words sound in other ears. What my actions look like through another’s eyes. Especially how my life ripples over into the lives of others. I find this fascinating due to how I’m able to view other’s impacts on mine.

The statement I made up above that prompted all those hypothetical responses is true. At this moment, at this time, I do feel this way. But I’m also aware of my own contributions—or lack thereof—to this scenario.
If one thing can be said for me during this pandemic, I really don’t mind the isolation. In fact, I find myself craving it more and more. For years I would tell people, regardless of how well I knew them, that if I had things my way, I would live up in the mountains by myself and not bother with the hubbub of people. If I had my way, I would do this. But God tells me that I need people in my life, and I’ve discovered He’s right.

At least, I say He’s right, but I believe only to a certain degree.

I go months without talking to my family, and when I see them, we catch up, and life is grand. My friends reach out when they need something, and I’m there for them, but then I disappear into my misty forest until the next venture. Make no mistake, though, I think about them all every day. I love them, wonder how they’re doing, ask myself what they’re up to, try to imagine how they’re feeling, etc.

I’m incredibly loyal to those I love. If I call you family, I mean it. If I call you a friend, you’ve earned it. And if others value me in similar ways, it means more than the world.

I’m the kind of person that finds it odd to just show up at someone’s house. I feel obligated to tell them I’m coming because I don’t want to intrude. I do this with my own family; parents, siblings, grandparents, and in-laws.

It’s the same with my friends. I don’t want to impose and demand their time when they haven’t agreed to it, or maybe don’t want to give it.

And silently, I harbor the same action in return.

I love my friends and family, and I go over the moon for them, but I also value my space. I need quiet, isolation, and room for my thoughts. Because of this, I think, those closest to me have learned to be afraid to just reach out and talk. I’ve established this code of formality that may be distancing me from others.

At its core, I don’t really mind it. I can see how my nature has distanced me from the world by thinking in terms of relationships, camaraderie, adventures, and full life. I don’t know how to feel about this. I haven’t decided if it’s something I need to or want to change.

My behavior is my responsibility. I am happy to claim that and accept the consequences. But, I’m not hiding behind the idea of “This is just how I am.” I hate that phrase or any phrase like it. I am not content with a basic knowledge of myself or my life, but I do need to know how my basic self operates. My goal is to change, evolve, adjust, become, and earn a better self. There are parts of my personality that existed when I was a child that I’m proud to say are gone. Of course, there’s also the opposite of that.
But while I’m claiming my actions and responsibility, I can’t ignore the interactions I have with others. I hold everyone responsible for themselves. If I’m missing something, I work hard to ask, but I can’t know what I don’t know. If you have something to say to me, it’s your job to say it.

This has led us back to our full circle.

But I find it hard to complain about others’ actions due to the simple fact that I don’t know why they’re behaving so. I can speculate till the cows come home—and of course, I do—but I won’t condemn people in a public space until I have evidence.

All I know is how I feel, what I see, and what is real or absent. But I can only work with my end if I wish to see change. And I’m tired of being the one to reach out, to inquire, to ask how they’re doing, offering my hand. It hurts to call someone a friend when they refuse to engage, or don’t listen or demonstrate double standards.

(I’m going through most of this with my new pandemic-job at a call center. The management there loves to ask for a bit more, hoping to assume absolute control of my time while I’m both in and outside of work. God, I hate people with no integrity.)

But again, who am I to say that’s what’s actually happening? I am, after all, only one side of this coin.

I’ve had multiple friends make an effort to reach out to me, who I’ve politely said, “Not now. But thank you.” It’s horrible to watch myself pine for the ones who aren’t present while turning my back on those who are.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my behavior for the last few days, and I need to show my love, appreciation, and respect to those who are making an effort. Humanity is weird when we’re lower than despair. But as I said in a previous blog about emotions, we have to experience them to know what we’ll do, and how we’ll get out of it.

It’s time for me to get out of mine, but I need to start standing up for myself. I don’t get to pick and choose what people do, and right now, I need to keep my attention on those who are showing up.
I also need to be the person that will show up.

So, it’s hard to not know a person and then see their words on a page or on a screen. No context creates chaotic situations at best. I know that nobody knows who I am, but don’t underestimate me. Until we know each other, I require your patience, questions, and help until we can safely come to a conclusion. I require this because I know that you all require the same from me.

I ask so much of myself, but I also ask so much of others.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I hope you’ll ask me questions or give me the chance to ask you some. I also hope I’ll reach out to you, and open up a dialogue that way.

So much hope, and no knowing the next step. Such a thing can be fun.

But who’s to say.

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