in·sti·ga·tor: a person who brings about or initiates something.
I’m an instigator.
Now, I know that the first thought that pops into your head when you hear that word is a negative one. And it’s true – that word can be, and usually is, seen in a negative light. I’m well aware that I probably fit a lot of the characteristics of the negative aspects of this word (as many people in my life will tell you – well, assuming those people are still in my life at all after this blog….), but I don’t really want to concentrate on the negative connotation of the word right now.
Look at the definition I posted above. An instigator is not necessarily someone who starts “problems” per se. No, it’s someone who ‘brings about something.’ While yes, that can be something negative, I don’t think that’s all that it means. It just means the person who gets the ball rolling. Who makes things start. Not just bad things – any ‘things.’
Well, by golly, that’s me.
As the oldest of six (yes, six) kids, it has always sort of fallen on my shoulders to be the ‘leader,’ so to speak. I was substantially older than my next sibling, so I was always somewhat of a second mom to them more than just an older sister. There was no one to baby me, or do things for me – I was the one doing things for everyone else. Unfortunately, that trait has followed me into adulthood. As a mother, of course, that trait is necessary. You have to do things for others – it’s your job. But as my kids are starting to get older, I have a confession to make.
I’m sick of this.
I am. I’m just flat out sick of it. I no longer “have” to do things for them anymore, but I still do. Because it’s ingrained in my brain. And sadly, it doesn’t just stay at home in the areas of motherhood. It spills out into all of my life.
A friend get-together? You betcha I’m the one who arranged it. A family outing with the boyfriend and kids? Yep, my idea. An email checking on a friend you hadn’t heard from in a while? Never the recipient, always the sender.
I picture in my mind all of the little spirits or souls or whatever you call them, all standing in line waiting to be placed into bodies. God (or whoever) calls out, “Ok, listen up! All of you who want to be ‘go getters’ stay where you are. If you want to be the one who is always in control of everything – who always does all the work as far as emotional relationships are concerned – and who never gets to just relax and let someone else take the reigns – you’re in the right line. Now, the rest of you – the ones who want to just kick back and relax all through life and know that someone else will take care of everything and you won’t have to lift a finger to make it happen – yeah, you guys move over into a line to the left. But, hurry – spaces are limited.” You know what happened to my little spirit/soul thingy? It had every intention of running over the line at the left, but someone behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Did you hear that? I wasn’t listening.” And while I took the time to explain to the little irresponsible soul thingy what had been said, I missed my spot in line. And you know who got it? The little twerp who wasn’t listening.
Story. Of. My. Life.
So, here I am. The one who does everything.
Am I feeling sorry for myself by writing this blog? Am I whining? Am I complaining?
You bet your ass I am.
Why? Because I’m tired. So incredibly tired.
How late is too late to switch teams? Can I get a do-over? Hey, keeper of the soul thingies, can we go back and try again?? Can I have another chance?
I know, without a doubt, that there are relationships in my life (I can count a bunch of them right now) that would fizzle and disappear if I stopped making them happen. If I just decided that I’m going to kick back and let someone else do all the work with regards to communication and plans for get-togethers and all of that other relationship ‘maintenance,’ those people would disappear from my life completely. There’s not a doubt in my mind.
I was speaking to someone about this very topic and they commented with an interesting story. She said she had a friend that would fall in this category I just described. Once, they had somewhat of a disagreement. After the disagreement, she decided that for just this once, she was going to let the friend be the one to make the call to try to mend things. And you know what?
Seven years later, she’s still waiting on that call.
I don’t want to play this game anymore. I’m so tired of making things happen. I need a change.
Yes, I know I generally try to keep these blogs positive. But someone forgot to put her Happy Pants on today. Sorry about that. It’s just that sometimes – you really need to step back and take stock. Realize that all of this one-sidedness isn’t fair.
Realize that enough is enough.
That time has come. I need a break.
“There comes a time when you have to stop crossing oceans for people who wouldn’t jump puddles for you.”
Wow Melissa, as do most of your posts, this one really connected with me. I too am an instigator. About 4 years ago, tired of my role, I realized I had 5 women friends, who although I always thought that we had a great time every time we got together, never, ever called me. Our friendships depended solely on my initiating contact, so I stopped….and waited…not right away, but eventually two of them contacted me, and our relationships, at least in my mind, are much stronger today, because we now take equal responsibility for keeping it going. Sadly, the other three I never heard from again. Sometimes, as hard as it is to believe, there are just people in our lives who don’t really value our friendship. If you stop being an instigator you do find out who your true friends are and that is priceless!
Thanks so much for reading, and for making me feel less alone! There is a lot of truth to what you said. Thank you.
I came across your post today 2019! As I’d written that I am sick of my role as an instigator!
What has changed for you as you wrote this 6 years ago?
It must be an energetic holding pattern and I’ve listened to “attracting what you want” I’ve not got it right somehow. I guess there are people who want a supportive human community and others who haven’t even noticed that that is a possibility.
I really like your anonymous quote!
You and I, appear to be two peas in a pod!