I may have mentioned before that I have some trust issues. I admit that this is a natural part of my personality and social make-up, but it’s been really exacerbated by patterns in my social life too. My memory and my sort of internal log book of behavior patterns work against me when it comes to trusting people. Because I remember promises and assurances, so I know when they’re broken or false. And while I’m not intentionally a ‘scorekeeper’ when it comes to human relationships, I do remember how frequently and consistently people don’t keep their word with me.
I live in the real world. I know shit happens. I know sometimes your tire goes flat on the way to a place and I know sometimes your toddler gets sick and has a melt down or your mother-in-law dropped by unexpectedly or or your teenager broke curfew AND there’s a scratch on the car now or some problem cropped up at work right when you were walking out the door or you’re just exhausted from that kind of shit happening on the previous several days and have a headache and you don’t feel up to socializing that day, so you couldn’t make a lunch date or a walk or a regular phone call. I understand that stuff and I think I’m a forgiving person, and, of course I could be viewing my own self with rose colored glasses here, but I don’t think I’m that demanding of a person in anyone’s life, normally. I’ve been conditioned since practically birth to not bother people. To not ask for help. To not share my problems. To not even share my triumphs with many people very often. To not ask for time or attention or affection. Usually the plans that are broken are plans I didn’t even make. And it’s always been easy for me to forgive and even totally dismiss one set of broken plans when it’s an anomaly, even though I’m a huge, socially anxious introvert who has to gear up for any sort of plans. But when it continually happens? When most or sometimes EVERY plan made with me by a person gets derailed by repeated issues of that type of stuff up there ^^^^? It’s difficult to not take it personally. And sometimes? It starts to feel like the reasons aren’t even real.
This hurts me particularly, because I don’t break promises or assurances. There are a lot of things I’d like to improve about myself, but one thing I actually do think I’m good at is keeping my word. I try to live with integrity. If I say I’m going to do something or be somewhere, I follow through. And if I can’t follow through? I will give a timely explanation and atone if necessary. I will make it clear it was always my intention to follow through.
But other than J, there are very few people in my life that I feel confident counting on to follow through on the promises and assurances they make me. “I’ll call…I’ll talk to you soon…I’ll be there…I’m here for you…You can count on me to do XYZ for/with you…let’s get together to do…”
I mean people mean well. I know they do. And intention does count for something. But it doesn’t count like action.
The reason I’m writing about follow through today is because I have a few folks in my life who have become valued, treasured, dear friends over the past few years because they’ve enjoyed the things they’ve read from me online (my essays, but particularly my fiction), who tend to apologize to me for ‘taking so long’ to finish new books I put out. Or that they haven’t read all my work yet. Or that they don’t have the words to say how my writing affects them/makes them feel. Or that they haven’t reviewed my work in public somewhere that would maybe help me sell more.
I just put another book out…that’s thirteen now since September of 2017. That’s a lot. I know it is. I know there are many humans out there (unfortunately) who haven’t read 13 total books in a lifetime, much less in less than 2 years, so I mean…I get it. People have lives. People have to work and sleep and do other things besides read my books. I just wanted to let these wonderful souls know that I don’t mind that they take their time, or that they choose to forego reading some of what I’ve put out for whatever reasons; I’m just glad they really DO actually read the stories I tell and talk to me about them. Because so many people who have promised and assured me they were going to read my stories; who ASKED to read my stories (and they were sent to them for FREE!) never read them. Never got back to me. Just left me hanging.
So many times I’ve heard, “I’m going to read this tomorrow, Jen, and I’ll get back to you…”
And not for days or weeks or even months or years. In perpetuity.
I don’t ‘remind’ people of things they said they were going to do with/for me when they don’t follow through. I just assume that something else took their time and energy. Maybe that was unfortunate necessity. Maybe it was something they valued more than me. Either way, I don’t like to continually assert myself to other people to get them to follow through. It makes me feel really naggy and annoying and uncomfortable.
But I do notice. And it does sting a little, still, every time, when someone doesn’t show up or doesn’t message me, or doesn’t do something they said they would. And not reading my writing when it’s promised is particularly hurtful for some reason.
That’s one of the many reasons I’m so in love with J. He’s amazingly consistent. He always follows through with me. And it’s why I so appreciate my faithful readers. You always follow through with me too. Thank you for the follow through.