Thoughts by Richard Bleil
What an odd day. My friend posted on our social media page that her husband needed basically a computer bag. To be fair, I’m feeling blue today, so I reached out and tried to do something that always makes me feel better. I tried to do a kind thing for another person by offering to buy him the bag of his choice on an online store. Much to my surprise, she (or, I’m guessing, they) turned my offer down. Then she told me that a mutual friend was in need of a vehicle. Well, I still have that truck that I tried to give to my friend a month or two ago, so I reached out and offered it to her. And she turned me down as well.
I’m blogging about this to get it out of my head. Unfortunately, since I am struggling, this hit me. I think it’s odd, honestly. After all, that truck is worth some money, and I plan on putting it up for sale and asking a couple of thousand dollars for it. No, I won’t make that much for it, but I was planning on giving it away, so why does it bother me that I couldn’t give it away? Twice?
I don’t know; the reality is that when I’m down, it just really helps me to do something nice for somebody else. I’m wondering if they were uncomfortable with these offers (the car and the computer bag). But this isn’t about them. It’s really about me.
I can’t help but wonder why I’m wired that doing nice things for others means so much, and not being able to do it hurts so much. Often, I can link things like this back to some form of childhood trauma or the other, but this one has me stumped.
I’ve gotten into trouble for things like this before, usually because somebody assumes motivations that I don’t have, at least not usually. I don’t believe in ulterior motives because, as I’ve blogged in the past, kind acts with attached strings just aren’t kind. For example, when I was a dean, I was, I thought, friends with a woman who was a cook at a bar that sold really just outstanding cheeseburgers and a couple of other bar food type things (like their chicken sandwich which I’ve always been afraid to try). She was too young and, frankly, we never would have gotten along as anything more than friends anyway. Our styles were just too different. Besides that, she was engaged. Like so many men, her fiancée often didn’t do things if he didn’t want to. One night, she had a free evening, something that didn’t happen for her often, and she wanted to get drunk (something I don’t do but, like I said, there are reasons I don’t think we would work). She told her fiancée and asked him to drive her home, but he didn’t want to. At lunch, she asked me if I would be willing to if he wasn’t. Sure enough, about 2 in the morning, she called. I would rather she wake me up than get into an accident, so of course I was happy to drive her home, but she didn’t want to go straight home.
She wanted to talk. Mainly to complain about her fiancée, so I drove her around her town. We drove for about an hour as she vented. Of course, her fiancée didn’t like it and second-guessed my motives. That’s not a surprise. The reality is that men are very insecure, even when it comes to other men doing things that they themselves don’t want to. That was fine, but what really surprised me was that she stopped talking to me. I’m guessing that he didn’t want her to talk with me anymore, but I would have thought that she at the very least would have spoken with me about it.
I understand people doubting the intention of men. Too many men have hidden agendas, but these are my friends. Maybe they don’t feel comfortable that they know me well enough to trust me, or maybe it’s something else, but it still hit me very hard that they wouldn’t accept my acts of kindness. I guess this is an important lesson to me, learning to take rejection without letting it have such a dramatic impact on me. Nothing happened today that really has a significant impact on my life, and my friends are the best. They did nothing wrong, and even if they did it certainly wasn’t intentional. Thinking about what I’ve written here, though, I think that maybe I’m equating rejection of my offer as a rejection of me personally. Interesting. I think maybe this is something I should ask my therapist, don’t you think?