Friday, June 24, 2011

Open/Closed UPDATED

I worked things out with my boss.  Turns out he didn't realize that I was using up vacation days to cover my week off.  He thought that I was somehow cheating the system by taking off an extra week's worth of paid sick days that I wasn't entitled to.  Where he got that bizarre idea is beyond me.  However, it's resolved now, and my boss seems happy again.

Last night I cleaned all the remaining wheaty treats out of my pantry.  I ate a mini egg roll at a party, figuring that the amount of wheat flour in the wrapper would be minimal, and therefore a not-too-risky test of my tolerance.  I'm still intolerant.  I guess I'll try again in a few months to see if anything changes, but for now I'm taking a moment to say a sad fare-ye-well to birthday cakes and toasted bagels.  Until we meet again, if ever.**

*Respectful moment of silence*

Speaking of silence, [this is a vain attempt to segue gracefully into my main topic] lately I've been questioning how much of myself I want to reveal to others.  How much of my feelings are my business, to be dealt with in solitude by me alone, and how much do I want to share with friends and family?  I'm never sure if I'm sharing too much or too little.

There's the solo meditation or prayerful approach vs. the group therapy get-it-off-your-chest approach.  Realistically no one is totally private or totally open.  The question is getting the mix right.  Taking time alone to work things out internally is often helpful.  On the other hand, sometimes you get so stuck in a rut that you need a friend to pull you out.

Sharing personal things with other people is like gambling.  Some times I'm happy that I shared my troubles, because the person I chose to trust listens and provides sympathy and insight.  Other times, that person may not be in the  mood for sympathy, because they're dealing with their own problems, or they're tired, or I'm not expressing myself well and they don't get what the heck the actual problem is.   Obviously no one can be 100% supportive at all times.  Am I always in the mood to provide therapeutic listening to people in need?  Surely not.

So what should I do when I feel that almost irresistible inner pressure to open my mouth and ask for a shoulder to cry on?  Should I journal about it until I feel I can continue on my lonely/independent way with composure once again?  Or should I make myself vulerable, reveal all my most foolish fears, break out of isolation, and risk being brushed off or told to smarten up?  (My family and friends often surprise me with how insightful, supportive, and sympathetic they can be.  But it's kind of a 50-50 split between that and making things worse.)

I'm not even sure that it's a conscious choice.  Sometimes the inner pressure wins and the words starting coming out of my mouth before I've actually thought it through.  It's such a messy business.  I assume this is what being grown up is all about: trying to keep your socks pulled up and your lip buttoned as appropriate.  Group therapy never did all that much for me anyway, except to convince me that other people are always unreliable.

My last point is that one of the primary goals of my life is to be, as much as possible, a cheerful and reassuring person.  There have been times in my life when I'm out of sorts and someone, sometimes a total stranger, comes into my presence and conducts themselves with such self-possession that I feel better just from standing next to them or receiving one friendly smile.  I would like to be that person in other peoples' lives, if at all possible.

How do you strike the balance between revealing your vulnerabilities and being a steadfast grownup?

**Ken has just told me that the wrappers on those spring rolls were made of rice flour.  Therefore, I was reacting to some other allergen at the work-related party I attended, possibly all the lawyers.  Or more likely my friend's cigarette smoke.  This is great news, because it means I get another chance at wheat!  There is hope!


Jameil said...

Glad you got things straightened out at work! RIP to the wheat. Sometimes being a grown-up is just letting it out! I usually try to dole out my crazy in doses so it's less overwhelming. I'm well aware that if I bottle it in, it's good for NO ONE!!! I've known my tipping point for a while and it generally keeps me happy and pretty even keel. And sometimes, I get a movie or book that helps me just have a good cry!!

Sparkling Red said...

Jameil: I'm totally with you on the media therapy. I like Grey's Anatomy for the purposes of triggering a cathartic meltdown.

Warped Mind of Ron said...

Don't you hate it when people jump to conclusions and give you grief without confirming their guesses??

LL Cool Joe said...

Glad you worked things out with your boss.

There are a few friends I open up to about personal matters, ones I can trust, but to most I'm pretty closed.

I do tend to feel that a trouble shared is a troubled gossiped.

Lynn said...

Just write what you feel, I think. It's all good!

I'm glad you got the thing straightened out with your boss. And yay - rice flour. You can keep eating the spring rolls.

Juniper said...

I tend to do a bit of both, journalling privately or letting it all pour out to friends. But mostly I put in the letters I write to my husband (he lives away), it feels private because I'm writing it, but at the same time I'm sharing it with someone who cares for me.

Sparkling Red said...

Ron: Yup. It always saves so much time and grief to open an investigation by asking questions instead of making accusations.

LL Cool Joe: There are only a few select people that I even consider talking to about personal things in any depth. It's tough to find people who are both trustworthy and in a relationship that's appropriate for sharing. For example, I trust many of my co-workers because I spend so much time with them, but I almost never share anything personal with any of them, because work is work.

Lynn and Juniper: I see a common thread - writing is better for getting things off your chest, whether its writing to oneself or to a trusted friend. I guess that's because it gives you more time to sort things out in your own mind, plus the other person can take the time to respond when they feel they are up to it. If someone gets an e-mail from me late at night they can always wait until the next day to answer. It's much less intrusive than an upset late-night phone call.

ileana said...

I've been such a bad judge of character, always trusting the wrong people (who btw, know how to say all the right things to make me feel comfortable), I tend to keep my most private thoughts to myself lately. Usually I work out the deep stuff on my own anyway, but when I truly need assistance I generally turn to my brother or God, who've never betrayed me.

DarcsFalcon said...

I'm so glad you got things straightened out with your boss! And fooey on him for thinking the worst of you without checking the evidence.

I hope, for the sake of all future cakes, that it's not the wheat! It's hard to celebrate with birthday pudding.

As for the tell/don't tell thing, that's a tough one. For various reasons, I keep most personal things offline. It's the Internet, and it's not like Vegas - once it's online, it stays there forever it seems. For venting, journaling is good (I like iDailyDiary for that one) and a nice way to keep a private record of things. It's such a personal decision, how much to reveal. It's kind of like a digital clothesline I suppose - sheets on the outside, panties on the inside where they're less visible on washing day. :)