Friday, May 8, 2015

Freedom


My friend and I were on the phone this morning talking about self-absorption and neediness and fishing expeditions. It started with her telling me about the mother of one of her eighth-grade daughter's  friends, who every time they meet brings up all the wonderful schools her daughter got into for high school, and my friend thinks that she keeps bringing it up because she wants her to say, "Oh how wonderful, how brilliant your child is," and my friend keeps not giving her the satisfaction.

"Why won't you say it to her?" I asked.

"She needs it too much," my friend said. "I was taught that that kind of neediness is untoward."

Yes, my friend uses words like "untoward."She's a wonderful writer and we made a good team when we were both at the same magazine, writer and editor, similarly obsessive and perfectly simpatico, though in physical appearance we could not be more different. She is petite and muscular in a thin athletic way, and I am, well, not. But emotionally and psychologically, we get each other. And we have history. Our friendship has deepened since we both got laid off from the magazine six months apart. Now we know we're both choosing each other, rather than just being thrown together on the job.

But back to our convo.

I asked her, "If this mother needs the affirmation why not just give it to her? I mean, her daughter did do well. She's proud of her."

"It's so self-absorbed to be that needy," she said. "Plus it's her daughter that got into those schools, not her." I should point out that my friend's daughter got into the top boarding school in the country, which may have something to do with this woman wanting her to acknowledge that her own daughter is special too. Yes, she's probably being needy and isn't fully aware of it, but I kind of have a soft spot for people who aren't overly concerned with how they're coming across.

My friend then brought up a women we both know, call her Sabrina, who is in our age range, who posts selfies daily, some of them looking sultry and suggestive, some of them looking fairly raw and unflattering.

"No woman over 40 should be posting selfies like that," she said. "It reveals a level of self-absorption that is just embarrassing. I mean, I'm self-absorbed and vain and I know it, but I don't have to put it on display for the world."

I pointed out that I sometimes post selfies, but only when they lie about my chins! She said, "Well, I don't see you as vain in that way so maybe I have to rethink this."

"But I am vain," I said. "That's why I post selfies that lie. Whereas Sabrina posts pictures of herself in all conditions, and I suspect she's happy with how she looks in all of them! Maybe she's doing that Cindy Sherman thing where her face is her art and she's exploring all its moods and shades. She's not bound by needing to appear a certain way."

We kind of laughed because Sabrina really does post a lot of super dramatic selfies. On the other hand you have to admire people who do whatever the fuck they want without really caring too much what other people have to say about it.

So what do you think? When someone is clearly needy for affirmation, do you just give it to them? If you were in my friend's shoes, what would you say to the woman above?

And don't you kind of love the people in this world who feel completely free to be embarrassing?

(I should note that I am completely grateful for all the affirmation my friends here have given my needy self over the years!)

*

The photo up top is the Freedom Tower from the sun roof of our new car!

We are not people who switch out cars regularly. Our past vehicles served us for eleven and sixteen years, so the choice of a new car felt somewhat loaded. But we did it! We navigated the buying-a-new-vehicle maze and came out the other side.

Here is another view of the city from the new (or rather gently used) car.




20 comments:

  1. Mmmm. I know a Sabrina and it seems, well, a bit over-the-top to me. Perhaps WE, who hardly ever post pictures of ourselves, are the ones who are most vain. I don't know. But I do know that I'm a bit like your friend- I just feel a bit...resentful? about having to constantly stoke someone's ego. That's my issue. But frankly, I think those people are either narcissistic or have, in all actuality, very low self-esteem. Or hell, maybe they're just sharing their lives.
    I do know that I love those pictures. So glad you got the car that makes you both happy!

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    1. Mary, thanks for the advice from your car man, the best being a good deal is not always a good deal. Things cost what they cost I guess. Even so, I think we did good, and yes, we're kind of happy with our sexy new car, my husband especially, and a happy is husband is a sweet thing indeed. xo

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  2. I'd say something like: it's really important to you your daughter got into this school, isn't it? I'm happy for you, and I hope she will enjoy her time there.
    You can still be happy for her, without feeding the things you don't want to feed. Maybe?>

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    1. Elsewhere, I really like your words; I think they're perfect and generous. I hope you come around often!

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  3. There are so many ways to go with who is feeling what. It is never really about what we think it is about. Does that make any sense?

    Probably not. I just got home from work and I am achy and tired.

    I was thinking about you yesterday when I was driving. There is a 99% chance I already sent you this song but that 1% is niggling at me in case I haven't. So I am either sending it again or sending it for the first time. Either way, I hope it helps. It helped me a lot after my mom died.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjqCQ-E0S30

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    1. Dear Birdie, thank you for that lovely song. And I do understand you, I think. My mother used to say, if you have a choice, be kind. I hear her in my head. Hugs.

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  4. I agree with elsewhere above. And I hope you enjoy the (gently used) new-to-you car for years to come.

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    1. e, thank you, friend. My husband is all lit up about our new-to-us vehicle. Men can be like that I suppose. He says the car has "a little bit of sexy" to it. And I agree with Elsewhere, too!

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  5. I agree with you, just tell her "Wow, that's wonderful!" and if people want to post a lot of selfies or anything else I don't want to see, I usually just hide them :D

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    1. Kristin, I try not to be too judgmental about what people do because heaven knows I don't want them judging me! I think when something really gets our craw, it can sometimes be mirroring an aspect of ourselves that we are not at peace with. My friend admitted as much!

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  6. Those tulips in the median are so delicious. Would flowers take selfies? Why not.

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    1. A, those tulips should definitely take some selfies! We'd all be the richer for it! xo

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  7. What kind of car did you get??

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    1. Nola darling, we got a 3-year-old jeep grand cherokee, black pearl and as my man says, "with a little bit of sexy." It is supremely comfortable inside.We have a few road trips coming up and I swear, my husband is chomping at the bit to get going already. It'll be just the two of us, so its kind of romantic. xo

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  8. I'd say ' oh that's wonderful ' unless this person had been horrible to me in some way, which, it doesn't sound like she has been. i mean life is so hard and short and people are just so desperate for fixing whatever is hurting inside of them and so often that desperation, just like it did in elementary school, pushes people away instead of bringing them in. it's easier to give to people who aren't desperate for it. desperate people make me feel kind of desperate. but i was desperate for so much of my life that now that i am not, i'll never forget, and i'll never think i'm above going back there. maybe desperate seems like a strong word for someone who wants bragging rights to their kids education, but maybe not. what goes on inside people we don't know. anyway, i know that's a BIG thing to a relatively small thing, but that's how i am. :) also i love the tulips. also i love the pictures you post of yourself, you are BEAUTIFUL in a very goddess way, and chins can ruin the best pictures for any woman, so i get that. xo

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    1. Darling Maggie, I love your perspective on this. you're right, life is hard enough and people are desperate and hurting. Sadly, sometimes the hurt we ourselves feel can keep us from soothing someone else's hurt. I guess that's why we have to do our best to stay conscious and not reactive in any given moment. Thank you for your kindness here. YOU are the goddess, and your children and loved ones know it. xo

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  9. I'd probably give her the satisfaction of praising her daughter's accomplishments. It seems like a small thing, even if it can get annoying in excess. (Besides, the girl deserves the praise, regardless of the mother, right?)

    As for selfies, I like them when other people post them -- but I DO think it's funny how people run around taking pictures of themselves. Like we don't see ourselves enough already!

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    1. Steve, I know what you mean about selfies although I kind of like them, too. I think people are often just trying to see themselves and figure out how they appear to the world, and even, hopefully, to exert some influence over that. It's probably a wasted effort of course. I do think we see ourselves less than we see everyone else because we don't walk around with mirrors, and now suddenly we have these smart phones the allow us to explore the geography of our own faces. No one complained when Cindy Sherman did it long before there was such a thing as selfies and now there are selfie sticks to make them look less self made! But hey, Sherman made millions on her own face. Kudos, I say.

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  10. I think your heart is maybe the most generous heart I have ever known.

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    1. V, I think you see the world with generous eyes, and for you, and this, I am grateful. xo

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