Wanna know how self-absorbed the people around you are? No, you say? Too bad, widda, you’re about to find out. It seems becoming widowed is a great litmus test to discover the true colors of just about anyone in your circle, and a few people you encounter along the way.
The results are usually jarring. (Winces).
It began a couple months in. Those around me–mainly my friends and acquaintances (the ones that remained after the mass exodus of most of my friends)–ceased asking me anything pertaining to myself. They didn’t ask me how I was doing, how I was feeling, how I was coping… nada. Nobody inquired about my fears, shattered dreams, nor even about my flickering hope for a future someday.
No mentions were made of my dearly departed husband, nor of anything remotely tied to him. If I even dropped my husband’s name into casual conversation, my friends went radio – silent. And then swiftly re-directed the conversation (back to them).
It was like he’d vanished or never existed. And it was if I had, as well.
What the people in my life did want to talk (ad nauseum) about was themselves. Their husbands, vacations, children, dilemmas, vet bills–you name it. Overnight, I’d morphed into a proficient sounding board for all my friends. They profusely (over)shared their dreams, or vented their consternation, or ranted about one perceived personal injustice or another.
At first, I felt a bit marginalized but I also thought they’d eventually remember–like all adults should–that conversations are a two-way street. I figured they were biding their time until they felt “safe” enough to resume asking me about my life, that perhaps they were just fearful of saying something inappropriate.
Except, it’s a year later, and things ain’t changed! To wit, allow me to share a recent example. Three months ago, I hosted a ladies’ night at my home. After a lovely supper, we segued into chitchat of a more personal nature. We went around the room and each lady relayed the current events in her life and the rest of the ladies would pepper her with questions or feedback.
Every lady had spoken, but when it was my turn, one of the ladies piped in and smoothly changed the subject, scuttling me out of a chance to get a word in edge-wise. (Rudimentary manners, anyone? Try googling: etiquette!).
Here I was hosting the damned gathering and still I was purposefully left out. I was so miffed, and truthfully, hurt.
So I’ve made a command decision. No longer will I perserveringly indulge the egocentric prattle from these people. I will intently listen to them and speak with them until I’ve had my fill, and if the conversation hasn’t yet turned reciprocal, I will retreat by leaving their presence or by devising a fairly believable reason I need to hang up the phone.
It’s the only method I have of preserving my waning goodwill towards these folks. It’s quite possible you’ll have to countenance the same phenomenon on your widda’s journey. Fellow widdas of mine commonly report the same scenario more often than not.
While we can’t change their behavior, you can regain some of the control by refusing to be their constant ear. You are still a valued person with powerful insights, and you deserve an interested ear, also.
..who comforts us in all our affliction, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, through the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.—2 Corinthians 1:4