Crickets

I’m a person who values authenticity. I thrive on the truth. I want to hear and read something real. I’m not interested in glossy magazines and pinterest worthy final products. I want to wade knee deep in the muck of it. That is where the interesting shit lives.

The problem is, most other people don’t.

I notice that, a lot of the time, when I speak my truth, people don’t say a whole lot back. I can kill a conversation, with even some of my best friends, much more easily than I can keep them going. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve put myself out there and all I’ve gotten was crickets. More times than I can bear.

I’m just so done with the pleasantries, you know? What the fuck is the point? Life is so short. And we’re alone for so much of it. Why waste our time talking about shit we’re not really interested in? Why dance around a topic neither of us cares about?

Maybe, the thing is, that other people do care.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve attempted a real, genuine conversation about parenting, or marriage, or how much I fucking suck at keeping my house clean and got NOTHING in return. Just silence. The awkward shuffle of feet. The murmured acknowledgement that the call hasn’t been dropped. Nothing of real substance.

This happens all the time. With people I consider good friends. Really good friends.

Am I really the only one who wants to talk about these things? Do I bring them up too clumsily? Too forcefully? Is my voice dripping with despair?

The conclusion that I’ve come to is that I’m too negative. I linger too long in the dark and depressing. I’m not grateful enough. I complain too much. People don’t want to be around a negative nelly. People don’t want to talk, well, to me.

One of the reasons I wanted to go back to therapy is I wanted a place where I could talk about the negative stuff without threatening my friendships. I’ve lost so many friends talking about how hard shit is. People don’t want to hear about that stuff all the time. I wanted to pay someone to listen to it–to the hard and the upsetting and the exhausting and the brutal. I wanted, for once, not to be met with crickets.

I can’t afford $140 an hour right now. I’m going to look into sliding scale places and hopefully I’ll find someone, because right now I really need a sounding board that isn’t my husband and isn’t my friends.

Otherwise, I might not have either at the end of all this.

24 Comments

  1. I think you may have touched on an important point for why you are getting crickets. Sometimes it has to do with topics being taboo, but most of the time it has to do with the way one approaches a topic. One valuable lesson I learned from my infertility support group is how important it is to acknowledge the good in life. We had an exercise where we had to talk about 5 good things that happened in our day when we saw one another. Grey and I need to pick this practice up again because it really helped set the tone for the evening conversations.

    Marriage/parenting/work/managing a mortgage is tough. We’re also currently renting our condo and I never wanted to be a landlord. But there are so many good things that happen each day, even when it’s been a shitty one. It’s just a matter of getting into the habit of finding those moments.

    1. I feel like I acknowledge the good, but maybe I don’t spend enough time there. I think it’s that I know I have so little time to talk to a person, so I go there too fast. They probably feel like that how little time we have to talk means I won’t go there at all, and when I do they aren’t ready or willing to broach it in the limited time allowed. Sometimes though, it’s something as simple as, Parenting two kids is so much harder than I thought it would be, and all I want is a, yeah, it’s really hard (or it must be really hard, if they haven’t had experience, and even that seems too much for them to offer. I don’t think it’s too dark to acknowledge how tough parenting or marriage is, but maybe I need to talk about the ways they are good before I delve into the bad. I just wish I had more time to talk to people, so I didn’t feel so rushed.

  2. For me, the pleasantries are helpful in framing life in a way that shows there is light in the dark. Then there’s the problem of some folks being unwilling to reveal their darkness or they really don’t have any. I remember when we were dealing with postpartum depression and early infertility, I had a girls’ night where we were complaining about our partners in a friendly way and I just couldn’t reveal the extent to which things had gotten bad until everyone else was fairly drunk (I was knocked up so sober and scared) and nobody knew how to help me with it, probably wouldn’t have even sober. So finding your confidant can be a big undertaking and in my experience, it’s super hard to reveal that underbelly so kudos to you that you can do that much. Hopefully you find that sounding board. I’m kind of curious if you need someone just to hear you and repeat back so you can hear and understand yourself, or if you need help solving what’s going on because you’ve exhausted your ideas for new things to try. That has always been my essential question in those kinds of places. Now I know exactly how to get out of my funk but I need a buddy to keep me honest and working on what’s needed, but sometimes in the past I’ve been fresh out of ideas and needed help finding a new approach.

    As always, don’t panic.

    1. I think I need helping solving what is going on because I’ve exhausted my ideas. What I want is someone to help me see things in a different, and hopefully more productive, way.

      The stress of disagreeing with my husband on the diet we’re (I’m) doing has been really overwhelming. We’ve had countless “discussions” about it and every time I feel more and more isolated in my marriage. I felt so unsupported. Then one time, after a fight, I took a shower and it came to me that my husband was actually being very supportive if he was agreeing to go along with this DESPITE not believing it was actually helping. I wanted him to change what he believed, but that wasn’t realistic (or fair). I wanted someone who would agree with me so when I wasn’t sure what to do I had a person who would work it out with me. But he can’t be that person, and it wasn’t right for me to push him to be that. And actually, it was very supportive that he was standing back and letting me do it, despite reservations. It showed a lot of respect on his part, for me and my beliefs. Once I shifted my thinking on it, things between us got so much better and I felt was less alone. I would still love to have a partner in this particular journey, but I no longer felt so isolated in my marriage. I just wish I had someone who could have helped me to see it that way earlier. It would have saved me a lot of heartache and us a lot of stress.

  3. I’m from the Midwest so if I can’t say anything nice I try not to say anything at all. I’ve also tried to stop “fixing people” partly because it often doesn’t turn out well, mainly because I have my own family and don’t have the capacity outside of my professional duties.

    From experience I know that saying anything at all when someone complains about her relationship is a recipe for disaster even when she tells you you were right later. People with unhealthy relationship patterns tend to lash out and then accuse you of lying about your own. Not saying you would, but that enough people do it that way that other people know it is best to change the subject and back away. (Oddly, the same thing can happen with conversations about housework.)

    I will talk about money because that’s part of what I do for work, but I won’t contribute to discussions I can see are going to be pointless unless I’m in a bad mood or feel the need to correct something so others don’t believe it.

    Drama is really no fun to deal with as one approaches middle age with kids, especially what can seem like someone else’s manufactured drama. I used to thrive on others’ drama but now I stay as far away as I can and get my excitement elsewhere.

    1. There is a lot to be said about avoiding drama. I’m like you, I avoid it at all costs when it comes to drama between people I know (friends), but for marriage stuff, parenting stuff… I don’t know. I don’t consider it drama. I consider it life and friendship.

    2. I see what you mean about not wanting to say anything negative about a person’s job or spouse, but I think you can still support someone when they are struggling without saying something like, “Yeah, your job sucks!” Or “Yeah, your husband is an ass, I would leave him!” There are ways to empathize without tearing something down. And I don’t think all venting has to be about drama. It can be about commiseration and camaraderie as well.

      Though I do love a good dish every now and again. 😉

  4. This is my life… I vent to a friend about marriage, and they just look at me. Or worse, tell me that they’re doing great when you know things aren’t perfect. Heck, my life may LOOK pretty good to others (I’m not complaining) but if they say, “my husband did this, can you believe that?” I say, “oh sister, lets talk.”. Funny enough, the most receptive person I have for these topics (besides you) is my MIL. Everyone else is trying to convince themselves and others that they’re killing it, in everything they do, every single day.

    I don’t blog about martial stuff because I promised Brian I wouldn’t, since I’m not anonymous. But IRL, I put it ALL out there.

    1. I honestly don’t need people to tell me that their life is hard, I just want a little, yeah. That sucks. I’m sorry. That is all I’m asking for. I don’t need your marriage to be as complicated as mine. I don’t even need you to understand. But I would like you to validate me a little. (And this “you,” is not YOU, it’s the person I’m talking to who doesn’t respond when I say something like, raising two kids is kicking my ass. I know YOU would TOTALLY say the right thing, you ALWAYS do.) So yeah, it’s frustrating. I just feel so weird and awkward when people don’t say ANYTHING when I put something like that out there. Is there really no possible response?

  5. Life is really hard. Being married is hard. Jobs are hard … and so political. Being a parent is hard. Living single is hard. There are no easy answers. But culturally we subscribe to a notion that is you talk about the problems you are being shameful. AND, most importantly, you are scary. Because there is an idea that problems are contagious and if I hear your problems then mine might be worse and then blow up leaving the 2nd party deserted on some channel island with no way off. And, sometimes the first party finds a new path with the object of their concerns…and holds anything you have said against you. As if you were the one to spontaneously criticize the person involved.
    Social media increases this idea of shame and contagion because it shows only the happy happy. Stop and think about how often you have seen a lovey-dovey message and two weeks later seen the same couple is getting divorced. Right. How often the abused person will defend their abuser ‘it was an accident’ ‘they really love me’. RIGHT.
    I’ve read the biggest problem with depression is that people often see their situation accurately but without hope. Wow. That adds to the desire to not hear other people’s problems ~ and then need to look at one’s own in the same cold light.
    This is why a therapist is a safe place to dump your bucket of worms, no reciprocal dump is socially expected.
    I think sometimes help consists of spelling out accurately either mentally or verbally or in writing the problem, in detail and naming the names of the emotions/thoughts/feelings. Then stopping and stepping back and asking ourself how the other person might perceive the same issue and if there is a different point of view you could take. Which is what you did when you realized your husband wasn’t deeply on board… but wasn’t trying to sabotage you and was letting you lead on the topic of diet.
    Sometimes it helps to say “I have a huge bucket of worms I want to dump, are you in a place to listen to me and not pick them up?” Because sometimes other people are dealing with their own overflowing bucket and trying ever so hard to not share ….
    Which reminds me. ~~ Very low FODMAPS diet are supposed to be short lived… about 2-4 weeks and then run experiments adding back a removed food type in large amount and watching for result. Then back to clean diet if there was a reaction and then try again with a different food group in the FODMAPS groupings. FODMAPS is based on different food chemistry groups which are where the letters in FODMAPS comes from. This would be true for any food elimination diet.

    1. I agree on the diet, that after a few weeks you can try adding hints back in. I personally need a 6 month wash-out after a failed food reintroduction but I think most would be fine with the 2-4 weeks based on discussions with my allergist and reading a wide range of stuff. There is hope! I got a food back this summer that I lost almost 10 years ago and had tried to reintroduce unsuccessfully several times before. Yay! So I guess don’t feel like this exact diet is locked in just like this forever.

      1. I think for most foods 2-4 weeks is fine. I’ve heard that for dairy and especially gluten (of course the two that are hardest to avoid, at least for my picky kids) you need more time than that. Gluten I’ve heard requires six months to really leave the system. Ugh. That would be so hard.

    2. I was JUST listening to the chapter in Willpower about the ways social media affects the choices we make and they talked about social contagion! So interesting! I was thinking what a coincidence that I wrote about this in my post and now I’m listening to it in this book. It was like I was meant to hear it. I guess if we get sad when we talk to people who are sad it makes sense people don’t want to hear about my hardship. I will keep that in mind when I need someone to talk to, and find a therapist to unload on… 😉

  6. I think unfortunately, a lot of people just aren’t where you are with respect to authenticity. Which is too bad for them, and sucky for you, since you are ready to have real conversations that we should all be striving for, but you don’t have a lot of willing participants. It does sound like a distant but supportive and helpful ear is key – a therapist. For what it’s worth, I don’t think any of us believe that you complain too much or that you aren’t grateful enough. But it’s so hard to try to find the positive when what you really want to do at that moment is have a conversation about difficult things. You shouldn’t have to if the person really knows the whole picture. Hope you find someone to unload on soon.

  7. I’d agree with some of the other commenters. Some people don’t or can’t or don’t need to admit their difficulties to others, and so may feel uncomfortable when we do. Also, different friends can provide support in different ways. None of my friends IRL here are particularly comfortable if I talk about life in the future with no kids, but I have my online friends for that, I talk to one friend about food issues, another about confidence issues, one about relationship issues, etc. etc. That works better than expecting them all to understand all aspects of my life.

    And we’re here to listen to you. Here on your blog, or behind the scenes.

  8. I didn’t comment earlier because I had SO much to say and was t sure how to articulate it. But I am a lot like this too. It hurts to think that what I view as brave honesty, a move toward increasing openness and connection, others see as negativity. I think some people were raised to believe in “not airing dirty laundry”. Some sre afraid to acknowledge their problems, for fear of making them more real. Others just don’t find it a helpful coping mechanism. I am always happy when I find those people who want to tell it like it is, who respond with sympathy, understanding and wisdom even if they haven’t been exactly where I am. (Like you – does that go without saying?)

    1. Not being negative is not the same as not being real or courageous. It is really hard for me to respond to people who conflate the two because 1. I get accused of lying or bragging. Not directly, but all sotto about those people with seemingly nice lives. (And it isn’t just me, it is anyone who doesn’t have whatever difficulties. Crabs in a bucket.). 2. Negativity generally means people are telling themselves the worst story about events. Crucial Conversations makes it pretty clear that if you want to encourage conversations and solutions, you should get out of that habit. And 3. Incessant negativity generally means a person has a fixed rather than growth mindset. With chronic negativity, these problems are never going to change and I have heard them before and will hear them again and nothing I say is going to change anything so what is the point.

      Negativity and honesty are not the same. Negativity is a way to view things and a person can be honest about minor setbacks without being negative. Because honestly, we’re not talking about friends being unsympathetic to infertility or death here. If what a person wants is a different way of viewing things, one can start with that– help me feel less annoyed, explain these actions in a way that will hurt me less, what am I not thinking about, where am I wrong, instead of the complaint.

      And seeing this argument (that people with good lives who enjoy those lives are liars) over and over is a reason to be silent, unless, of course one is irritated enough to rant that no it does not have to be that way.

      1. Addendum: this is definitely not directed at the OP but at all the comments about people with good likes being inauthentic just, dishonest, etc. people can be authentic in their happiness. It takes a lot of luck and a little perspective.

      2. These are really interesting points. I think it makes a lot of sense to state a hoped for outcome in the conversation (or at least what you are looking for) when stating something that is not just “fine.” I think figuring that out enough to verbalize it will also help me to understand why I’m bringing it up and what I hope to accomplish by doing that.

        I think for me a problem is I just don’t have a lot of time to talk to people, so I bring things up in the wrong context, just because I know the conversation will be forced to end. I guess I need to just not bring stuff up if I know there isn’t time to talk about it, even if that means there will never be time.

        Finally, as far and chronic negativity and fixed vs growth mindset, I’ll have to think about that one more. If a situation sucks and it continues to suck, is that a person having a fixed mindset or is that just a chronically shitty situation? I’m not sure. I’ll give it more thought.

    2. I struggle with this too–understanding what is honest and open and what is negativity. Maybe in the way it is presented? Maybe, as Nicole&Maggie mentioned, it’s how frequently we bring up certain issues? I really don’t know. I’ve been told I tend to focus on the negative, so I believe it’s true. I like to put that on my decade of depression, but maybe it’s just the way I am. Now I think I am better at presenting things as they are, not necessarily negatively, but maybe I’m just kidding myself. I honestly don’t know.

  9. I know this is late, and it may be repeating some of what’s already written above, but I’ve been thinking about this since I read the post and have some thoughts I figured I’d share
    1) Maybe you aren’t venting to the right friends. How well do you know them? Is it just one of those cases of “too much too soon”? I totally get wanting to skip over the BS and cut to the chase, but when you reveal too much (especially when its negative/complaints) to someone who doesn’t know the whole picture, they may see YOU as negative/complain-y/full of drama vs. an otherwise grateful happy person who just needs to vent. there is also an element of tit for tat…some unspoken rule about trading off on venting, so if one person is doing all the venting each time, again it comes across different. 2) I agree with those that mentioned how fraught it may be to get in the middle of someone’s drama—how your well meaning advice or commiseration may come back to bite you in the butt—I mean, you can’t REALLY say “yes he’s an ass, I’d leave him!” can you? You can’t agree with someone when they are bad mouthing their family/spouse/mother (i.e. someone they love and would defend to the death, but just happen to be annoyed at in the moment). the most you can do is acknowledge the situation “yeah that sucks” and offer maybe a more positive interpretation, but sometimes its hard to really offer another interpretation when you don’t know all the intricacies of a situation. And its hard to know exactly which of those 2 responses someone wants/needs in a moment. I’ve definitely been in the position where I’ve vented a minor annoyance and the response I got back was…OVER validating, like I was sort of annoyed and would’ve actually wanted someone to help me re-frame the situation so I could see the person from a better light, when instead I got back “YES what an ASS, how can you deal with it!” and it made the whole thing worse! 3) I really like Purple and Roses suggestion to test the waters before sharing—“I need to vent, can you listen” because sometimes we are at our very limit and the last thing we could do is take on someone else’s problem, no matter how much we love them & want to help them. We just need to protect ourselves/retreat and hearing someone’s sad story, especially when it reminds us of our own issues, is just enough to push us over the edge. 4) maybe they really DO NOT GET IT. some people really not have those problems and don’t know how to respond when you bring them up. I think Mali mentioned choosing your audience for different issues—someone in great financial shape may not know what to say about your budget troubles, they don’t want to come across like they are bragging, but can’t honestly say they “know how you feel”. I mean, ideally I good friend & empathetic person should be able to understand your frustration and offer support even if they’ve never been in the situation, but…”ideally” isn’t real life. Finally 5) some people really build their armor thick. they have no desire for breaking through that armor. They want to talk about surface topics and keep things light & carefree. you are killing their buzz! Those, again, are probably the wrong friends to vent to. Those are the friends to meet in groups for drinks and just talk about clothes or whatever.
    I agree with the therapist, but I also use blogging for that kind of venting (and emails/texts to people who “Get it”). You (YOU you) are always so supportive and helpful, by the way, its very very much appreciated!

    1. For the record, these are VERY good, long time friends I’m trying to talk to about this stuff. I don’t bring it up with people I’ve just met or am trying to forge a friendship with. But these are also friends who are very different from me, friends that I’ve had for a long time because we met during formative years. Friends I don’t know if I’d be close to if we didn’t have that history. So maybe they really don’t get it. That is a real possibility.

      The problem is I don’t have many friends that I even get to talk to, let alone actually hang out with. I can’t be super choosy about who I vent to. And while writing about stuff to people is so awesome, and what gets me through, sometimes I just want to talk, you know? But I have increasingly fewer people to do that with. I think that is really the main crux of all this. I haven’t made time to see my few friends, mostly because I realized they aren’t ever going to be the friends I want them to be, so it felt kind of silly investing a lot of time in them. And now I’m starting to feel bummed out about it. I just need a little interaction with someone who is not my husband or my kids. 😉

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