Before rising this morning, I grabbed for my iPhone and took a quick peek at my email. My sleep-bleared eyes were captured by today’s “Daily Prompt,” and struck by the timeliness of the topic: Tell us about the time you threw down the gauntlet and drew the proverbial line in the sand by giving someone an ultimatum. http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/daily-prompt-with-or-without-you/
Hello! If ever a time called for valor, this is that time. For you see, I have only recently made up my mind to do just that thing! I am throwing down the gauntlet! It is time to take up my armor and fight the good fight. The interesting part (yeah, stick with me, it does get at least a little interesting) – the interesting part is that the person to whom I am issuing the ultimatum is Yours Truly.
Yep, little old me.
After getting kicked in the teeth one time too many, I have decided it is time to have a little heart-to-heart with my Inner Kate, that part of me who always worries that she will offend someone.
Inner Kate is a nice girl. Perhaps too nice.
Her good intentions imprison her. Instead of deciding her own fate, she allows the pronouncements of others to determine it for her. She is bound by the good opinion of killers. Killers? Yes, the folks who go around killing any happiness in the air, any fledgling ambitions of others, any spark of genuine pleasure.
Case in point:
Just suppose it is a lovely day. The sun is shining. The birds are singing. God’s in His heaven, all’s right with the world. You are having one of those rare days where you’re channeling Sleeping Beauty. You’re giddy. Joyful. You’re about to start singing to the birdies in the trees. It happens. Once in a while, we all get deliriously happy.
BUT just as you’re about to join forces with the ‘red, red robin and go bob, bob, bobbin’ along,’ you see an army of nano bots heading your way. A gazillion of these little robotic creatures have joined forces to take on the shape and visage of a so-called ‘friend.’ I can tell you right now: these nano bots are toxic critters. Your friend has formed a partnership with these little bits of active poison, allowing them to invade her life force. She is no longer friend, but foe. Upon seeing her, an inner warning begins to chime softly in your brain. You’ve had experience with these nasty bots before. Like Will Robinson in “Lost in Space,” you’re entering dangerous territory, and your brain is no longer chiming but loudly issuing a call to man the battle stations: “Danger, Danger Ahead!”
The ‘friend’ casually approaches, full of seeming good cheer. She eyes you up and down, her smile deceptively sweet. With tones of soft sincerity, she tells you how nice your hair looks. Stunning, in fact.
For a moment, you feel awful. You’re a louse! How could you have so misjudged your friend’s good intent? You’re not worthy of her. You are dirt, not fit to brush the dust off her shiny Jimmy Choos. About to humble yourself and ask for her forgiveness for your unworthy thoughts, you pause in an attempt to find just the right words…
In the next breath comes the KA-POW: “I always liked that style… it reminds me of the 1980s.”
Aim, fire – BANG! Mission accomplished.
You stand there, blindsided once again. Stupid, once again. Meanwhile, your toxic friend, having performed her duty, moves on.
Ain’t gonna be no bob, bob, bobbin’ with any red, red robins now. The balloon of your happiness has been pierced, and you swear you can hear the whoosh of your once joyful thoughts escaping as your mood deflates. Quickly, you pull a scarf from the pocket of your jacket, tie it over your 1980s hair, and slink your way to the office.
A small, minor example, but you know what I’m talking about. Be honest: haven’t we all had experience with the psychic vampire?
Sure we have. I’m willing to bet some serious money that you’ve got one (or several!) in your life. In fact, as you’re reading these words, isn’t there at least one person amongst your acquaintances who springs readily to mind? Let’s be frank: these are the folks who suck the joy out of every moment, the excitement from any new venture, or just the everyday enjoyment of being alive. They do it with their whining, machinations and self-absorption.
I’ve learned through hard experience that when it comes to these people nothing is ever about you. It is about them. Always. It is their feelings. Their sadness. Their neediness. And because they’re miserable, they are on a search and destroy mission to neutralize – or worse, eradicate – any happiness around them. And many of us allow them to do this. Why?
We feel sorry for them. We think perhaps we don’t truly understand them. We think they have challenging lives that account for their surliness.
You know what? That’s a crock. Everyone has some sadness. Everyone has walked through ‘the valley.’ How you come out on the other side is entirely up to you. I’m not talking about the friend going through a difficult time and whose behavior is a temporary aberration. Nope. I’m talking about people who regularly feed on the misery of others. If they can make you feel as insecure and discontented as they, well, they’ve scored a point. For about five minutes, they feel pretty damned good about themselves.
At your expense.
Years ago, there was a song by Bob Dylan. Some of the lyrics went like this:
You see me on the street, you always act surprised
You say, “How are you? Good Luck,” but you don’t mean it
When you know as well as me you’d rather see me paralyzed
Why don’t you just come out once and scream it?
I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes
And just for that one moment, I could be you
Yes, I wish that for just one time, you could stand inside my shoes
You’d know what a drag it is to see you.
I suspect ol’ Bobby had a few experiences with his own psychic vampires.
So, here’s what I’m suggesting to you: this is the year of your liberation. Issue an ultimatum to yourself. Throw down the gauntlet! Refuse to be the punching bag for unhappy people. Cut loose the ball and chain personalities that seek to make you carry their unhappy weight around.
Life is hard enough without making it an Olympic Event of Misery. Declare your independence and push ’em out of your life.
And then, like the old Al Jolson song, you might just find yourself, along with the red, red robin, a bob, bob, bobbin’ along.’: