Sunday, January 30, 2011

Drainers Don't Know Jack (or You)

Some of you may know who Christy is by now. Well, Christy and I were chatting a couple months ago (talking on the phone with her is never a problem!) and I was complaining about a few people that I'd gotten roped into long-winded, one-sided conversations with. One woman in particular would talk about something and then move on to another topic, and another, and another, and another, with no segue, no pause, no gap; she'd just move on before I even had a chance to comment on anything. (It was like a blog with no "comment" button.) I'd stay on the phone for hours listening to her talk (i.e. bitch) about her joblessness, her roommate, her home, her car, her computer, her phone, her family - anything and everything, all negative. It was absolutely draining. (Hence Christy's apt term "drainers".)

After several of these monologues, I realized two things: 1) I knew more about her than I ever really wanted to know. And 2) she didn't know anything about me. I can remember having relevant (at least, I thought they were relevant) things I wanted to tell here while she spoke, aspects of my life that were comparable to her's, things that might even help her, but I couldn't get a word in edge-wise. I was telling Christy about this and she commiserated with me about how difficult it is to listen to people like that. And then, casually and quite out of the blue, she said, "Most of the people I talk to couldn't tell me 5 personal things about me." I was like....whoa...

That made me really think. And it didn't take me a day or even a few hours. It hit me hard right away. Does Sally (made-up name) know where I'm from? Does she know what I do for a living? Does she know my last frickin' name? The answer was no, no and no. It made me a little angry, and then the anger turned to resentment. How dare these selfish people insinuate themselves on my life in this way! How presumptuous and self-involved of them to think that all the minutiae of their lives was so important to me that I was willing to give up hours of my day to listen to it. And it's not like they were asking for my advice or wanted feedback. They just wanted to vent. Endlessly. Totally unproductive ranting and rambling. (NOTE: In all fairness, I probably inadvertently led them to believe I was willing to listen endlessly because I did listen endlessly.)

This revelation, if you will, helped me winnow out the "drainers" from the "keepers". Congrats to myself for finally blowing off Sally and her headache-inducing ramblings. She left a few voice mails which I ignored. And then she was just...gone. I don't see her on Facebook anymore and she doesn't call me anymore. I'm absolutely certain her life is no worse without me as her sounding board. My life, however, is a bit more relaxed knowing that she's not going to be calling me anymore.

And then there was this guy who hung out by the mailboxes...

37 comments:

  1. "Sally" sounds like my mom! LOL I'm not even joking. My mom asks me, "So how are you, honey?" But before I can say anything, she just starts talking...and talking for hours. I can lay the phone down, go pee, come back and she's still talking without a hitch! Before she hangs up, she usually apologizes for monopolizing the convo and asks me again how I am...Once I told her I was leaving my husband just to see what her reaction would be...and she said "Oh we all have problems; Just work it out; Love you...Gotta go."

    Whatcha gonna do? I learned from her how to change the subject...Can't disown mom...But I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE caller ID!

    Here's some of the "red flag" phrases I have come to recognise and avoid if I can cut her off before she starts. Plus now I just listen and shut my mouth rather than invoke any extra conversation or I add an extra hour to the call:

    Mom: Not to change the subject, but.... (Me: Oh no, just dropped a glass...I'm bleeding... gotta go)

    Mom: OH, I almost forgot...(Well, hold that thought for next time, I have to pick up someone soon)

    You've got to hear this...(Sure, how about tomorrow, I have an appt and I'm already running late)

    You are not going to believe what happened to...(I'd bet I wouldn't but I have a call I need to take right now...long distance...Old friend from Antarctica)

    Yeah Yeah yeah...okay..but let me tell you...(I
    think the dog got loose and is in the street, let me call you back)

    OH, you think that's bad, well...(Baby just fell...(Pinch baby just enough to get a scream...no no no...just kidding...Just yank a cookie from his hand. That always gets a good scream)

    You are over reacting, now let me tell you why my pain is worse than yours...(OMG I think someone just hit my car)

    You're sad, let me tell you about sad...(UPS guy is here...let me call you later)

    You've got problems...EVERYONE has problems worse than yours...(You are so right mom, I love you, kiss dad for me and give him my love (and sympathy)...bye :::Quickly hang up:::

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  2. Sadly, I have someone in my life I've known for about 15 years, who couldn't name 5 personal things about me that most people don't already know or can't be found on Facebook or in my blog. That's a long time to know someone and yet not know someone. This isn't a person who talks incessantly, but it is someone who doesn't listen. I've told this person multiple times over the years that I have two brothers, but I still receive a surprised, "You have two brothers?" when I mention them. It really makes me wonder why we're still "friends."

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  3. Something to think about. I don't know many people who could tell me 5 personal things about me. I could tell a lot of people 5 things about them because I listen, but a lot of the people I know don't listen to me in return. My life has become lop sided.

    The thing is that I'd like people to know 5 personal things about me. I want to be known. How do you turn it around? Do you have to just keep searching until you find people who aren't so focused on themselves? How long will that take?

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  4. Good observation, Christy! It makes me wonder how many people I know can tell me 5 personal things about me that aren't public knowledge. We tend to stay so surface with people, even the ones we call "friends" sometimes. This makes me want to ask some of my friends if they can tell me 5 personal things about me.

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  5. I like the term "drainers". I also like the 5 personal things thought. Probably should have told "Sally" you didn't want to talk anymore, but I guess just ignoring worked. Nice blog!

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  6. @Anita: LMAO! Next time (and there will be a next time), I won't hold it, I'll just go pee. The one-upsmanship kills me. The "my day was worse than yours because [fill in the blank]..." My mom is about the only one I'd take that from anymore and, thankfully, she doesn't ever do that. Love your whole post!

    @Christy: You said "That's a long time to know someone and yet not know someone." I'm betting you "know" them a lot better than they "know" you. Sucks.

    @Angela: Boy, I'm not sure I ever discovered a sure-fire trick or a time-frame for cutting the "drainers" loose. I don't think I necessarily looked for 'listeners' to replace the 'talkers' in my life. I think they found me and I got to a point where I actually recognized them and held on tight. It took a decent amount of self-reflection and self-evaluation. I asked myself "What do I need?" And then I stuck with the people that fulfilled that need and kicked the others to the curb. (Sounds harsh, but it really isn't.) But, yeah, it took a while.

    @Ally: One of the things that I learned was to distinguish between the people I call "friends" and the folks that are "acquaintances". That was hard for me because I considered everyone I shared a cup of coffee or a beer with my friend. Not so. My friends know far more than 5 things about me. If I have to ask, they're probably just an acquaintance.

    @Kyle: You sound like my therapist! Because you're right, I probably should have done "Sally" the courtesy of telling her I didn't want to chat anymore. I think I didn't because I didn't want to hurt her feelings because, invariably, I would've had to tell her why I didn't want to talk to her anymore. "Because you're a succubus who makes my ears bleed when you talk to me!" Awkward. Hearing it might have helped her in the long run though. But I wimped and just ignored her instead.

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  7. @Steven, good point. If I have to ask my friends if they know 5 things about me, they probably aren't true friends. I know the ones who know 5 things.

    Oh and loved the comment to @Kyle re: Sally being a succubus. LOL!

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  8. @Ally: Thanks! And that's the first time I've gotten to use the word succubus...anywhere. Felt good. LOL!

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  9. Steven, I know I talk too much and ramble on and on, but I hope I never made you think of me as a succubus (There now I got to use that word too! LOL) Seriously though...I know more than 5 personal things about you so I guess I let you speak now and then too! LOL And THANKS Christy for a great subject!

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  10. @Anita, you're welcome. I'm really glad Steven wrote about it. I love your excuses to get off the phone with your mom! LMAO! I'm going to use some of them on my grandpa. So far he hasn't caught on to the fact that the battery on my phone mysteriously is low and dies almost every time we talk. Either that or he just thinks I have a really bad phone. I love him, but he's a looping drainer.

    @Ally, thanks!

    @Angela, we all want to be known, don't we? Isn't that really the point of friendship, to get to "know" each other? Unfortunately, I think a lot of people forget it's a two way thing.

    @Steven, yep, I know 15 years worth of stuff and it does kind of suck. Oh well. You know, I've never used the word succubus in a sentence...oh wait, I just did! It's a day of succubus firsts for all! :-)

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  11. Poor Sally the Succubus. We all wimp out on stuff, so don't feel bad. Now I've used succubus for the first time. :-)

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  12. @ Christy...Looping drainer!!! LOL Too funny. You are more than welcome to my drainer excuses! I'm just feeling so much better knowing I'm not the only one who cringes when the phone rings! Hugs!

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  13. Thanks for posting this Steven. Very good! And thanks for giving him the idea Christy. Again, very good! Since Steven mentioned this in a comment on another post, I've shared it with several people and they all really liked it. It's given us something to think about. Can you name 5 personal things about me that isn't public knowledge? I said before and I'll say it again. Wow!

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  14. Lovin' the word succubus even more now! LOL!

    @Anita: You're most definitely not a drainer! LOL! Just ramble to your heart's content, m'dear. :-)

    @Michelle: Yer welcome. And thanks for the kudos! I'm glad to have shared something that's gotten you and your buds thinking as much as it made me think. Wow, indeed! (odd squeaking-air sound as my 'circle of succubi' continues to shrink)

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  15. @Christy: I almost forgot to mention that all this thinking and soul-searching is your fault! LOL! So thank you too. :-)

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  16. Sorry to keep peppering you guys with comments. I should've finished my coffee before I got on here. ;-P

    @Kyle: Love "Sally the Succubus"! (She actually has a blog too...somewhere. Brrr...)

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  17. I'm starting to get it. I mean really get it. And it's all thanks to you and Christy. I never stopped to think about how much I knew about all the folks who talk to me, but how much they DON'T know about me, until I read your comment in another post about what Christy said. I have to tell you, you've made a difference in my life. I'm making changes with the drainers.

    So I just wanted to post a big THANK YOU STEVEN AND CHRISTY!

    I don't know you guys, but I feel like I do. My wife thanks you too by the way. Isn't it interesting how one sentence Christy said a couple of months ago to you can make a difference in my life today? That's something folks.

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  18. @Michelle and Grey Goose: You're welcome. It really is interesting to see how a comment I made a couple of months ago in a private conversation is affecting people I don't know today. You never know how something you say or do is going to impact someone else. It's amazing and wonderful!

    @Steven: Regarding peppering us with separate comments... you just want it to look like you have a whole bunch of comments on your post! LOL! ;-) Oh, and you're welcome too.

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  19. Just realized you had a blog! Found you over on the Booksflutterby blog list. Nice!

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  20. @Hooka: HA! Nice to see you over here! ('Shroom-free Zone)

    @Goose: Tell your wife 'you're welcome'. :-)

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  21. @Steven64: It's good to be off the moors and out of the 'shroom zone. I see @Christy made it safely as well. Looking forward to good times here.

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  22. @Hooka: Looka'n forward to seeing you here, too! (I know, I know - bad pun on your handle, but I couldn't resist.)

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  23. This is an interesting concept.

    First, I like the term "drainers" for people who seem to do nothing but drain you as they drone on about their own lives. We all have our moments, but let's face, there are people who are chronic. Drainers.

    Second, I like the idea of using whether or not someone knows 5 personal things about me as a measurement for how well they know me and if they truly qualify as a "friend" or an acquaintance. Just 5 personal things.

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  24. Lost interest already?

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  25. @Anonymous:
    Not even close! Just...ruminating...

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  26. Hi! A friend recommended your blog. I like most of what I've read. This one really spoke to me. Please tell your friend Christy that I like what she said to you. I read this post a week ago and have been thinking about it since. The 5 things comment is great! I'm glad my friend pointed me here. If someone knows 5 things about you or me, we're loved. That's a really great thing! Thanks to your post, I've realized how loved I am. :)

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  27. @Shelly:
    Thanks for commenting and thanks for the compliment! That makes me feel really good. And I'll pass on what you said to Christy (although she probably saw your comment before I did!). :-)

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  28. @Shelly, I just read your comment and I have to tell you that it touched me. You're right. If someone takes the time to remember 5 personal things about me, I'm loved. You've made me really think about that, and right now, I'm feeling very loved. Thank you! :-)

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  29. @Christy: Very good observation during your conversation. Simple statement, but very profound.

    @Shelly: That's a great take-away from reading this post.

    @Steven64: Excellent post. I'm sending the link to my wife because I know she'll enjoy it. I like the blog overall. A few heavy posts and comments, but good for thought.

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  30. @Don:
    Thanks for stopping by! I hope your wife enjoys some of the stuff on here, too. And, yeah, I think my next post will be a tad...lighter. LOL! Food for thought is good, but food for the soul is good too. Thanks again for your comments.

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  31. Like this post dude!

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  32. @A Visitor: Whoa! Unexpected blip on an old post. Thanks! :-)

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  33. Interesting thoughts. Keep blogging dude!

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  34. Yeah, I like this one more than your first post. You must be finding your voice. It takes time. Stay with it dude and you'll get it.

    Great concept about people actually knowing each other and how much. This was a great post.

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  35. @Amazing: Thanks for the encouragement! I'm gonna keep plugging away as long as I have something half-interesting (in my mind anyway) to say. :-)

    @Applesauce: Glad @Hooka pointed you to my little corner of the blogosphere. You said: "...must be finding your voice." I never thought about it that way but, yeah, I think I am. I have a feeling I'll be alternating between 'heavy' and 'lite' a lot, but I'm okay with being a little schizo. LOL! Thanks for checking me out. :-)

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  36. Mmm-mmm-mmm! Five personal things. What a concept for ferreting out who really knows you and who doesn't (who cares and who doesn't). Brilliant!

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