To the clueless yapper at Chadaka Thai restaurant last Friday,
I hope you don't mind that I'm taking it upon myself to speak for your friend. I don't know either of you but I feel compelled to be her voice. After all, she didn't seem to have one.
I know that's not your fault. We're each responsible for speaking up for ourselves and setting our own boundaries. But as an introvert (which I'm guessing she is based on how quickly she imploded over the course of 2 hours), maybe she hasn't read Susan Cain's Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. Maybe she doesn't know what her boundaries are. Maybe she didn't want to hurt your feelings.
Or maybe she was just too damn exhausted by your loud incessant ranting and constant complaining about your life to utter a single word.
No, I wasn't eavesdropping. The entire restaurant heard your story about how the tall player guy you were kind-of-sort-of-but-not-really dating said he was working late and couldn't go out with you and then you heard he was out with another woman and then you confronted him and then he said he really was working and then you said he's a liar and then he said he wasn't and then you said he was and then...
I could go on and on.
Like you did.
All while your friend was slowly sinking further and further into her chair like a melting blob of wax under a giant heat lamp.
Did you not notice?
You couldn't have because you kept going.
You must be a singer, or perhaps a freediver? Your lung capacity is amazing. You didn't even take a breath the entire evening. I'm impressed.
But your friend wasn't.
She went from this:
In less than 2 hours.
That's pretty impressive too.
But I feel bad for her.
You see, I'm a Highly Sensitive Person so it's easy for me to feel for someone else, even when I don't want to. I'm hard-wired to empathize and notice things, subtle things that others don't notice.
And also not-so-subtle things like the fact that your friend was drowning right before your very eyes. And instead of noticing, you kept pushing her head under water with each and every word while she gasped for her life.
My guess is it wasn't actually your words that shriveled her from a vibrant juicy grape to a dry wrinkly raisin sucked of all its vitality. My guess is it was your negativity, your heavy energy and emotions that were exuding from you and absorbing into her.
You see, she's probably a sensitive one too, and she absorbs other people's feelings. And judging by the amount of energy that you seemed to be gaining as the evening progressed and she seemed to be losing, I'm guessing you're an extrovert and she's an introvert. In case you're interested, there's a short quiz you can take to find out here.
I'm sorry she didn't make all this clear to you. Had I been sitting there, I would've excused myself and found a moment of quiet reprieve in a bathroom stall. You might've wondered why my bladder was so weak that I had to go to the bathroom every 5 minutes. Or maybe you wouldn't have noticed that either. Maybe I would've left only to come back from the bathroom to hear you still talking, as if I hadn't even gone.
Or I might've tried to divert the conversation toward something more positive or uplifting or, heaven forbid, deep. Gasp!
Or I might've set a time limit before meeting with you and told you I only had an hour.
Or maybe I would've invited another friend as somewhat of a buffer, so I could space off into my own blissful thoughts every once in awhile and not feel bad that I'm not really listening because there's someone else there for you to talk to.
These are things I've learned to do, not just as an introvert around extroverts, but really around anyone who's negativity tends to seep through my pores, extroverted or not.
Anyway, what I really want to say to you is this:
1) Try to pay attention to the person in front of you. If they're deflating like a Patriots ball, their head dangling on the back of the chair and their tongue sticking out the side of their mouth, maybe, just maybe you could stop talking long enough to see if they're OK.
2) Have you ever considered the possibility that all that whining, complaining and rehashing every excruciating detail of every minute of your life might be what's keeping you unhappy and not the events that are happening themselves?
3) Is this friendship with the quiet lady serving either of you? She doesn't seem able to speak her mind and you don't seem able to stop speaking your mind. I'm not sure this is helping either of you. Neither of you were actually present for the other person the entire evening. So why even bother? Maybe it's time to end the friendship. Or even better, maybe it's time for each of you to teach the other person what you know best. You can teach her how to express herself and her needs openly and she can teach you how to listen and be more available for someone else. I think that's a win-win scenario and what true friendships are all about.
And lastly, dump the dude. If you're already having doubts while you're in the kind-of-sort-of-but-not-really dating phase, just move on now while it's easier.
I sensed a lot of loneliness and fear in you, and I guess that's why you kept talking, because you didn't want to be quiet long enough to feel those awful feelings. But I'd like you to know that I also sense a happy life for you. Maybe it's just me trying to put a positive spin on things, but I honestly believe that there's peace and joy for you just around the corner. In fact, I hear it calling for you.
It's so close.
Can't you feel it?
Tree Franklyn is a best-selling author and emotional empowerment coach for sensitive, introverted women. You can get instant access to her 7 free grounding techniques to stop absorbing other people's emotions here.
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