The other day a beloved friend asked me a question I didn’t feel comfortable answering. But instead of saying so, I gave the best answer I could while on the spot. After much thought, I shared in an email how I felt, that it was a very personal question.
My friend was hurt and felt that she should be able to speak freely. While I was sympathetic towards her feelings, I needed to be protective of my own as well. I felt it was time in our friendship to set up guidelines about what is and isn’t appropriate to speak about. And I was entitled to that.
Certain things are personal and sacred, and should only be discussed with lifetime partners. If friends really love and support each other, they should also love and support each other’s comfort zones. In other words — know your audience.
Some friends may be very comfortable talking about money, estates, assets, gossip, politics, and/or their sexual exploits. Others may prefer talking about health, hobbies, music, animals/pets, philosophy, spirituality, work, and art. Put me in the category of the latter. While others may feel differently, the topics I favor are so much more fun, intellectual, and enlightening!
It may seem like I’m a “tell all” kinda gal because I’m a writer and am always expressing myself in front of my readership. As another friend once said, that I “put it all out there.” But she is wrong. I don’t. The more I tell, the more I keep secret. Lives are so grand and complicated that you can probably write 10,000 honest words about yourself per day without really revealing a damn thing. The brain goes a mile a minute. No one really knows what goes on inside another’s mind. Like a recent t-shirt I saw that said something like, “I may look like I’m listening to you, but in my head I’m listening to The Monkees.” Same thing goes with thoughts. I may be discussing the latest health craze, but in my head I’m thinking of my beautiful cat who died almost a year ago. So, get over it; you never truly know another person.
In my research for this particular piece, I found so many articles supporting true friends telling each other everything. And not one article about friends being entitled to some privacy. So I think it’s time to start a new trend. A trend that says friendships shouldn’t be considered any “less” if someone wants to keep a secret or not talk about certain things. A trend that says true friends should be comfortable to set boundaries without getting offended. A trend that says honesty is the ability to know each other well enough to “not go there.” Or at least make the effort to try.
How about it, eh?
Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is the author of “Love Cats” available on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback versions: https://www.amazon.com/Love-Cats-Maryanne-Christiano-Mistretta/dp/1681020513
The 1990s; the last romantic era. We were beautiful but didn’t need Instagram or Facebook to prove it to anyone. We created poetry; a high form of art that people actually got back then. We interpreted lyrics our own way without the use of the internet. We hand-wrote each other letters. We laughed in person and on the telephone. We made our own clothes. We made each other tapes of songs we loved. And they would listen to them. We stood apart from the crowd. We had messy hair and that was a good thing. God bless the last romantic era. When we were really real.
Last night I was reading my old diaries from 1993. I was only 29-years-old and really loving my life. At that time I was living in a beautiful world people can’t even imagine today. Even as a very good-looking young woman, I had my dateless, lonely nights. The difference was, if you had the blues back then you could count on a phone call from at least five friends in one night! So being sad was not an option.
Today, other than my husband who I could always count on, I can’t imagine conversing with any of my friends without first making an appointment to speak with them. People are always so “busy.” Picking up the phone is no longer an option. So, I just cry instead.
The first of the year usually means new beginnings. As someone who is self-employed, this is usually the time when my business takes off. People always come to me for ghost writing, book editing, and public speaking engagements because they know they can count on me. There’s an old saying, “If you need something done, ask the busiest person you know because he/she will get it done for you.”
That said, I have to question everyone else’s version of “busy.” Because even when my version of “busy” gets so crazy, I’m glued to my desk for hours without getting up for a drink or to go to the bathroom, I ALWAYS sincerely answer an email from a friend who is in need.
This week started out as one of those busy weeks. Then one person cancelled an appointment — at the last minute. So not cool. And another just totally stood me up — no email, no phone call, no explanation.
I was heartbroken for being slighted. This is not the way I do business. This is not how I’d treat somebody. For all the technology we have in this day and age, this should not be. In this modern world, no one can be too busy to type three simple words in an email: “Can we reschedule?” And, I might add, at an appropriate time, not at the last minute unless someone very close to you died. Even so, I think back to when my father-in-law, who sometimes lived with us, passed away three months ago … I still was able to conduct business in a professional manner. And I still listened to problems from friends who needed a friend. Is it so much to ask the same in return?
It is not narcissistic to expect to be treated with respect. My time is just as important as anyone else’s. But here I am, crying my eyes out in the middle of the day, waiting patiently for my husband to get home so I can cry on his shoulder.
It is far from being “unprofessional” when you are disappointed by how so-called professionals treat you. There really needs to be a book on manners in this day and age. What happened to the Miss Manners column that ran in newspapers on a daily basis? Oh, I know, no one reads newspapers anymore.
No one does a lot of things anymore that they should. It’s a sad world we live in. A world without manners. A world without consideration. A world where people do whatever they please as long as it suits them.
And nothing can be done about it either. Just wait for the good karma you’ve been owed … so then things will turn around … and you’ll get everything you’ve ever deserved … because you already have a lot of it … Like a husband who truly adores and loves you. Because you were never “too busy” to find someone you adore and love.
So, hooray for demystifying the “too busy” myth! For those who are “too busy” will never seep the rewards that come from making time.
Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is an award-winning writer and a public speaker. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ah, 2017! Fresh as a baby animal!