I volunteer on a few different committees, one of which is a political organizing committee. Over the past few weeks, emails have been coming across my desk from fellow committee members that I just haven’t been able to keep up with. I responded, at one point, to the lead of the group saying, “I feel as if there was a meeting I didn’t know about. I keep reading these emails and just feeling so lost. I have no idea what we are doing right now.”
I had indeed missed a meeting. I’m not sure how it got past me, but it did. And over the past week, assignments for this committee have piled up and I keep getting email updates from my co-organizers, discussing their achievements and next steps. And I’m still back on step one.
So, this morning I sent out a missive to the group. “I think I need to sit this out for a little while,” I wrote. After mentioning my other commitments & a bout of illness that put me out for a week, I continued that, “I’m feeling a little overwhelmed right now, and guilty that I don’t have the time to focus myself on this while all of you guys are clearly doing such great work!” The email ended with, “Right now is just not the time for me & it isn’t fair to you guys.”
I took a step back and scrunched up my face. I had a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach. I had to give a queasy laugh as I realized that my email sounded like a half-assed break up. I was that person who couldn’t bring herself to say, “You’re not important enough to me” so instead I commended everyone else and made myself look like some just-too-busy person, avoiding the fact that I could prioritize that committee if I really wanted to…I just didn’t want to.
I sent the email out anyways. And then I sat there feeling weird. I am an awful person, I thought. I had just gotten dumped by someone who gave me those exact same lines. By someone who couldn’t just bring himself to say, “Look, you’re just not important enough to me.” And it sucks. We all want the plain truth instead of the truth buried in a web of lies, seemingly to protect both people from the ugly things in life…like that you’re just not important enough. That’s a truth that’s hard to swallow but it’s better just out there in the open. And I didn’t do that.
I know it’s just a volunteer committee, but how we compose ourselves in any arena in life is important.
I’m not going to email the group back and say, “Actually, the core of my email was supposed to say – there are other volunteer committees more important to me right now,” but that really is the gist of it. I divide my life carefully between work, volunteering, personal relationships, and alone time. In all of these areas I need to decide what to prioritize. Sometimes I have to put one volunteer commitment over another. Sometimes I have to say no to a friend, or a date. And sometimes things get out of whack. Recently my relationships – both personal & professional – have taken center stage. And I don’t even mind. Sometimes we need to put something before another, even if it causes an imbalance. Just don’t do it all the time.
(Have you noticed how many times I’ve used the word “sometimes”? Good lord.)
So….sometimes we tell people these stupid little webs of lies in order to avoid telling them, “You (job…committee….person) are not important enough right now.” And I hate that. Can we just stop the bogus? I know that I just committed it ,but I instantly realized that there were a dozen better ways for me to have framed that email breakup than I did. And I don’t really want to do it that way again.
And just like when I got dumped a few weeks ago, I would have so much preferred for him to just admit that I wasn’t important enough. I love those clean break ups, where no one is left questioning what the true meaning is. There is no room for re-interpretation – the bold truth is just there, even if it hurts. Where you just tell the other person, “This isn’t going to work out because x, y, z.” Sometimes it hurts like hell but at least you’re not wondering why.
You’re just not important enough to me.
I don’t trust you after you’ve lied to me so many times.
I can’t spend the rest of my life with someone with _____ trait.
You abused me and now I have the language to stand up for myself.
You cheated on me and I’m just done.
You’re a negative energy in my life because _____, _______, _____ behaviours.
I’d much rather hear any of that than some half-assed reasoning meant to spare both people from the truth. But then again, I’m a blunt person & I’d rather just have it told to me how it is. And why is that such a bad thing?