I almost always have a list in my head of people I think are mad at me. It is a sign of my self centered-ness, of my insecurity, and of my knowledge that at least once a day I say or write something that makes someone mad at me.
But this list is of real friends. People I love and respect and who I know love, or at least like, and respect me. If I have gotten in touch with one of these people via phone or e mail or facebook and I don’t hear back in a timely fashion (that day, that hour, that minute), I worry. When my son was young I would look at him and say “I think Lulu (fake name to protect the innocent) is mad at me”. I did this from the time he could have any sort of back and forth conversation with me, which was four. He would look up at me and say “mom, why would Lulu be mad at you?” in a reasonable, calm, reassuring voice. I would give him a list of why I thought Lulu might be mad and after a while he would convince me that I was being an idiot and I should just call Lulu again, or send a new e mail or even forget it. Eventually I would hear from Lulu and I would tell my wise son, because of course he was right and she was NOT mad at me. She was just busy with real life.
I am one thousand times better than I used to be and now I only think friends are mad at me once or twice a week. My son is in college so I can’t bother him about the list of angry friends in my head and for whatever reason I don’t find it soothing to tell my husband. When I tell him, in a somber and almost teary fashion, who I think is mad at me, he barely glances up from the newspaper or book he is reading or sports game he is watching. Instead I tell our dog Alice. She is somewhat reassuring because she is never mad at me.
This sounds funny, as do most neurotic tendencies when they are the neurotic tendencies of other people. But when it is your own self telling you that your friends are mad at you, it is sort of painful. Now that I am addicted to facebook and I have friends I have never met but still consider quite real, I have MORE people I can think are mad at me.
Sometimes they really are.
There is no real solution to this. I just want to put it out there because although I know I can be harsh and tactless and blunt I HATE to hurt anyone’s feelings. I love my friends, real and virtual and if I do not hear from you after I have written to you or called just know that I am sitting in my kitchen or studio with coffee or if it is evening wine and I am telling Alice that someone, maybe you, are mad at me. And though she will look at me with love she can’t tell me that they are not mad because as crazy as I am I know she can’t talk. So, write back or call back or send me a message back or something, even if it is to tell me you are mad as hell at me.