I’m very conflict-avoidant. Very. I don’t like yelling, I don’t like discord between people. And for weeks now, I’ve been ducking at least two unpleasant conversations. “Sorry! Can’t talk about that— I’ve got an impending crisis to deal with! Sorry! I’m planning a trip and no time for that before the trip!”
I’m back from the trip and, sadly, these conversations are not having themselves. One is with Grey Area Guy. I need to tell him that I know this is never going anywhere, and if that’s true, I need to be done. I don’t need to hate him or yell at him, but I need to be all the way done with him, not friendly-text-every-two-weeks-until-the-end-of-time done as I have been before. Here’s the thing— I know that part of me wants to leave the door open. “If you ever get ready, call me!” And I’m having a hard time opening the conversation with him while I don’t know if I can shut that part of me up.
Another is with a friend. She wanted to plan a trip for 2018, about a month ago. I said that I didn’t feel comfortable committing to something too far out because I feel like Mom’s health is a thing, and I don’t know whether she’ll continue to be able to operate as independently as she has for a lot longer. I don’t know whether she’s capable of doing more and prefers not to, or if she’s really as bad as she wants me to think she is, but she’s complaining more frequently of chest pains and I feel like oxygen is going to be a thing pretty soon. I told my friend that mom’s health was a concern to me, in making plans pretty far out, and she didn’t respond to any of that but was pressuring me pretty hard to make a decision about a fairly lengthy trip (10ish days). I finally said I understood that she felt a sense of urgency about this and if she preferred to continue planning without me, I understood, but I had other fish to fry and could not discuss it until we returned from our trip. But the night before we got back, I fought with her about it in a dream. These conversations need to be had, and the need is not diminishing with time, so I’m best off having them ASAP.
I don’t want to give the silent treatment, I really don’t. I know that people feel like it’s manipulative and punishing. I don’t mean to do either. In both of these cases, I feel like the person is going to try to talk me out of what I know is right for me because I feel like they haven’t been listening so far, and I’m enough of a people pleaser that I find that pretty painful to resist. At the same time, I don’t want to get pushed into accepting something I don’t find acceptable, and I feel like until I can go in with a plan to stop that from happening, I’m just not ready to have that conversation.
I feel like I can reach out to my friend and say “listen, as much as I want to take this trip with you, I just can’t make that kind of commitment right now. I can promise to come visit you (she lives far away and traveling together is a major way we spend time together) for a few days when I know better what my situation is, and we can pick a time that works for you and day trip, if you like” (her urgency is around tacking down a vacation schedule for work, but it’s not like she doesn’t ever have time off.) And I feel like graceful is probably too much to ask for, in the situation with Grey Area Guy. I don’t want to ghost him, because that’s crappy (even though that’s totally tempting, because it feels easier than fighting with him that something that’s clearly never going to happen is clearly never going to happen.) Part of me feels like I need to write him an explanation that makes clear that I don’t hate him and there’s no drama on my end, I’m just done, and part of me says that explanations in these situations never feel sufficient.
I don’t expect you to have the answers, here, and words seldom feel helpful in this situation anyway (I know what the right thing is to do, and I’m making an effort to do it, so I don’t need to be talked into or out of anything.) But if you have your own experience to share, I welcome it.