Monday, August 22, 2005

Warbird Doesn’t Like Me

It was a Friday afternoon in a past life, as they say. It was long before anyone had heard of Y2K or 9/11. I was working late. She was part of a catty little clique where I worked. She came into my office, sat herself down, and offered some minor pleasantries—always her style. Then she dropped her cloaking device and hit me head-on like a Romulan Warbird.

“We’ve been talking about you, and we’ve decided that we don’t like you talking about people when they’re not in the room, . . . in particular, we don’t like you talking about Marilyn.” She proceeded to use a good twenty minutes describing everything that was wrong with me as a person, which included a sidebar on why no person on the planet could possibly stand to work with me. I should have seen it coming when I heard that lovely phrase, “It’s probably none of our business, but . . .”

That evening I lived the word stunned. As I sat facing rapid fire, I literally had to restart my brain. I couldn’t process the information. My thinking kept looping around the same question in total amazement. Did she really hear what she had just said? It was a full-out admission that she had been doing exactly what she was shooting me for. In my neighborhood that wasn't fair. Add to that the fact that she was the one—the only one—with whom I had discussed Marilyn, as an editor.

My brain was misfiring. The opening narration from The Outer Limits was being read by Rod Serling as Salvadore Dali painted the scene in my office somewhere in the far reaches of my mind.

This female sitting across from me was an editor. What had she done with the facts? The only plausible answer was: she had no use for the facts. She had been passive-aggressive since I’d arrived at the company, thinking that my job should have been hers. So I don’t suppose that she was predisposed to caring about the facts anyway. I let her say her piece. It was brutal. I went home.

My natural response is to fix things. I looked for ways to resolve this. Every solution that presented itself had me giving up ground. I didn’t want her friendship, but I didn’t need to be bullied again either. It was a miserable weekend. It took self-respect to go to work that Monday.

Wish I’d been wiser then. I wouldn’t have wasted a weekend trying to fix the unfixable. I know now that even if I’d saved Warbird’s life, I’d still be that awful person who’d somehow done a good thing. That's how those things work.

Every now and then I hear about Warbird and occasionally bump into her at conferences. I always stop to talk, and she always seems nervous. I like to think that I’ve changed over time, maybe she will too. Then again, maybe she won’t. She’s still at the old company—in a job she got while I was still there.

Me? I'm long gone from there.

I’ve fixed my overwhelming need to fix things that I can’t fix. I now have a great deal of time and brain space for doing things that are a lot more fun. I’ve also quit flinching when other Warbirds come around. So I suspect they’ve quit thinking it might be fun to torment me. Fascinating how these things reinforce each other.

I've gotten comfortable with the fact that some folks plain aren’t going to like me. Some will have genuine reasons. Reasons I gave them. Others, like Warbird, will make up reasons. Both will see the bad things they’re looking for when they look at me.

Of course it would work that way. My friends have genuine and sweet, imaginary reasons why they like me. They see the good things they’re looking for when they look at me.

Now that I think about it, it’s a good thing that people like Warbird don’t like me.

What would it say about me and my friends if they did?
—me strauss Letting me be


for_the_lonely said...

I have worried myself sick as well trying to make everyone like me. But sometimes, there are those people that just won't care for you, and you won't care for them, either! But in the long run, people like that are not worth your time worrying over..and those that are your friends are your friends because you are Y-O-U! :)

Hugs to you,

rhein said...

long gone from there, sounds like the perfect place to be. i LOVED the post on the 65th crayon!

ME Strauss said...

Hey there, lonely girl,:)
I want people to like me for me, which is just what you're saying. I also realize some of them just won't no matter what I do--that was the hard one for me.

That was a long time ago and Warbird does get nervous when she sees me. I think she endows me with some sort of power. :)


ME Strauss said...

Good to see you!
And you're right, it's good to be gone--file that one under lessons that had to be learned more than once.

I'll pass your praise along to the 65th Crayon. He'll be changing colors for hours. :)

Kelley Bell said...

The Dali Lama says that we should value our enemies equally with our friends, because often, our friends become our enemies and our enemies become our friends.

In addition, he wisely noted that is is more often our enemies who motivate us to think or act or move out of our comfort zones.

Our enemies are a great asset, for they are the ones who pressure us to make changes and seek truth. Our friends who are passive and accepting offer little help in this regard.

Ananke said...

I think Warbird's less-nice sister works at my company. This woman is truly not happy unless she's making someone else more miserable than she is. It might not be so bad if she didn't go out of her way to blatantly lie about people. She'll take one word out of a sentence and turn it into something completely different than what you meant. You could say something like "It's a nice day today." When she's done, you've said something like "Joan said you ruined her day." What a moron. Like you, I've learned that hard lesson that not everyone is going to like you. But it doesn't stop me from wanting to kick people like Warbird in the ass. ;-D

ME Strauss said...

Thank Kelley,
What a wonderful contribution to the discussion.
The Dali Lama is a wise man. I know that I have learned more from those who meant to hurt me than those who meant to help me--my father excluded. I have trouble calling someone my enemey, as I wrote I always hold hope for change, thinking if I can so can she.

It's good to see you--Liz

ME Strauss said...

I think that realizing that she is miserable herself is the first step. I do know what you mean, once I said to Warbird that the task we had to do was a one person task--for us both to do it would be redundant. She told everyone I called her redundant. This was a very smart lady.

A kick in the ass wouldn't work that's what stops you. I've learned that saying "thank you" sometimes works. I once said, "Thank you, I've not been called inconsequential for a very long time. I needed that.

Thank you for stopping by and for your comment. I hope to see you again.


Ned said...

There are some people whose good opinion I absolutely do not want, for it would make me closely re-examine my values. If I have no respect for their priorities and their character, I could not possibly benefit from their friendship.

I say, always be yourself and you may not have everyone like you, but you will garner the respect you deserve and most importantly, you will respect yourself.

And causing them to have a little healthy fear of you is not bad to throw in the mix, either. :)

ME Strauss said...

Hey Ned,
I wish I had your strength of character years ago. You've got it so right. So right.


Ned said...

Oh I wouldn't call it strength of character, I just have an abrasive personality and an attitude, lol.

Really though, we have all had times when we have run into people like this, you can't avoid it, but you can avoid them from now on. :)

Gone Away said...

Well, we all like you so there. :)

ME Strauss said...

Well that's so sweet.
Thank you. (blush)

moonshell said...

“Enemies” or people with whom we have difficulty interacting can provide a catalyst for change by showing us negative aspects of ourselves. And sometimes when we change our own negative behavior, others change theirs, too.

Good friends can also provide a catalyst for change by gently helping us to see aspects of ourselves that we can’t see, both negative and positive. And the way in which friends see us affirms the good in ourselves, and encourages us to let those positive aspects grow. Lifelong friends can be mirrors that show us who we are and allow us to accept and appreciate who we are as our dearest friends do.

“Enemies” and friends provide the balance we need to see all of the aspects (negative and positive, dark and light) that make all of us human.

ME Strauss said...

What thoughtful comments Moonshell. I have often said to my son, the quickest way to change someone's behavior is to change your own, but I have never quite pulled it together so eloquently. Thank your for your insights. You have made my thinking stronger.
I am grateful.

moonshell said...

You're very welcome, Liz. I'm happy to share my insights, which were gained through some very painful experiences. But through those experiences I've come to see that almost everything happens for a reason, and maybe sometimes we are subjected to a person like Warbird because there is a lesson for us to learn. Sometimes our "enemies," like our friends, can be a mirror for us.

ME Strauss said...

I believe it is the bad things and the sad things that build character. Sadly, I think, that if my son never fell down as a child he would not know what to do as an adult when he did. I think that Warbird made me stronger. I only regret that too often I tried to change myself, rather than recognize when I wasn't the problem. I was too quick to think I was.

moonshell said...

Most people are too quick to think that the other person is the problem. Rarely do we consider that when we have a problem with someone perhaps the problem lies with our self. Trying to change yourself can be a good thing if it makes you a better person. But trying to change yourself to fit in or get along is not a good thing if it makes you be someone other than who you really are. The hard part is recognizing when we need to change and when we need to accept and celebrate who we are.

ME Strauss said...

You are wise, Moonshell. You have lived a life of learning and it shows. It took many years for me to understand the lesson you so clearly write in that one paragraph there. I'm not sure I've learned it fully let.

Life is that way for me. The same lessons keep presenting themselves to make sure that I have not forgotten them.

moonshell said...

Thank you for that compliment, Liz. I'm only beginning to realize the wisdom I've gained in my life of learning. Life has been that way for me, too. And what I've learned is that the same lessons keep presenting themselves until you finally learn them, then they go away.

ME Strauss said...

It is so nice that you came by. I have been enjoying our conversation so much. This is the best part of writing this blog. The people who have such insight who make the writing so much more than what is on the page.

PS--You are beginning to remind me of me. :)