I’m Tom Rhodes’ Woman.
And I do what I want.
Somewhere out there is a happy medium between being a people-pleasing doormat and being a selfish, awful person. It’s been my goal, for many years, to find it.
I think part of this mystery involves accepting, in particular, two ideas. One, not everyone will like me. Two, it’s okay to say no. It’s so easy to write those statements, but putting them into practice feels foreign in my life in a way that turns it upside down.
I periodically watch a Brené Brown speech in which she says that people who aim to connect with others need courage. And she defines courage as “telling the story of who you are with your whole heart.” What I take from that is I need to communicate my thoughts without shame or fear, let other people deal with what to make of them, and to be okay with what they decide.
For better or for worse, people can’t read minds. It means that the only things people can use to interpret each other is what they say and do. What we “put out there”. Someone could spend a solid day thinking, “I love him, I love him,” but, if when she sees him, she is curt and flippant, he has no way of knowing about her love. In that sense, we all have information that others don’t: our inner selves. Our thoughts. And so, the essence of our relationships is based on how well we communicate our real feelings.
I like to think I’ve been open enough that people know how I feel about them, but the truth is that I withhold love all the time because I think it’ll be misinterpreted as “sucking up” and will drive people away. Lyndsay said to me one time, “You really… like people.” I’ve thought about that a lot. She is right, depending on how you interpret the statement. (I don’t like everyone I meet. You can tell when I don’t. Usually it’s due to picking up a sense of corruptness or shallowness in them; I just make no effort with these people. Maybe I should, I don’t know.) But when I do like people, I like them a lot and want to be best friends right away. It doesn’t work that way, though. People are guarded and don’t want to be trusting and vulnerable without a down payment of time, so to speak. It makes perfect sense and is natural. Friends can hurt us so much worse than enemies.
So I have to be patient and hope that people can tell that my attraction and love for them isn’t out of desperation or falseness. I also need to make sure that I am not actually desperate or false. If I disagree with something, I need to say so— in compassion.
If you ask me, that’s part of how you form what we’re all here for: connection.