Friday, September 22, 2006

"One's real life is often the life that one does not lead." ~ Oscar Wilde, 1882

I'm not exactly sure how the comment came up at work yesterday, it probably evolved from another totally unrelated topic like so many of our conversations at work do, but it was declared that I "am not cuddly". Now, normally, I would retort to that with some sort of flip comment, take it at its face value, and move on but for some reason it actually hurt a little bit to hear that. Well, no, I take that back, it hurt a lot. Enough so that without meaning to I found myself actually shedding a couple tears and feeling like a complete and total fool about the whole thing.

I can trace the conversation as far back as talking about Jen coming in with her new son on Tuesday and the fact that I had actually held the little fella for a bit. I guess I didn't realize that were those who would have thought that was totally out of character for me; that I was looked at as such an ice queen that I apparently don't even stoop so low as to hold babies.

There's no doubt in my mind that throughout the years I have built up a protective wall around myself, that I don't let my feelings show very easily, and that I certainly don't get excited about things very often. I had never really thought of myself as unapproachable until today however, it appears that's exactly what I put out there on a fairly regular basis and I find it rather distressing.

Granted, I don't want to be one of those over-the-top, sickly-sweet types that seem to have a smile permanently tattooed on their face - a "Pollyanna", as it were, someone who is cheerfully optimistic all of the time despite the situation or circumstances. If asked if I am a "glass half full or glass half empty" person I would probably say I lean towards the half empty scenario but really, what does all that mean? You can always fill the glass back up again so who cares whether it's half full or half empty - the more important question there might be do you have the means to refill the glass?

Yes, I am a realist, I will fully admit that. Life has thrown too many curve balls at me for it to be otherwise. I've had some tough lessons in life here and there but I'd like to think that I've learned from all of them, even though some of the lessons had to be repeated a time or two before I finally got the answers right! Perhaps I've become a little more "shut down" in certain areas of my life but I certainly don't want to be seen as an unlovable, unapproachable, cold wench of a woman. I know a few of those and they aren't pleasant to be around.

I'd like to say that with me "what you see is what you get" but that's not exactly the case. The life I lead is not exactly the life I want but it's the only one I have right now. I'd love to be cuddly and cuddled; I'd love to be in love again someday; I'd love to come into work every single morning with a smile on my face but I suppose that if I did that then people would get the idea that I had started doing some sort of mind-altering drugs or something!

Talk about a paradox - I want to be thought of as approachable and perhaps even cuddly but I don't want to put on an act to prove it. What to do? What to do? Perhaps I should just not worry about it and take comfort in the fact that those who really know me, know that I am capable of such things.

I'm sure that there are worse things than not being "cuddly", it's just that yesterday I couldn't think of any of them.


  1. Anonymous8:30 AM EDT

    So true.. sadly that's all I can say. I wish that I don't have to do any of this that I am doing right now. That there was no life if this is all we get in it.

  2. Anonymous9:52 AM EDT

    Linda, I really believe there is a club of us out there... people who are perceived as unapproachable or, in my case as I've heard a million times, "witchy, bitchy, ice queens." I believe that this comes from a great misperception on the part of people who don't actually take the time to get to know us. It also comes because we tend to "tell it like it is" without prejudice or fear; and also because we tend to be cautious in letting people "in" due to the life bashings we have had. Yet I know, if someone will take the time to gain our trust and work their way in, they will find a genuinely warm, compassionate person who makes the BEST friend and companion because we are fiercely loyal to those we love. I, too, have shed tears over such comments and wondered exactly what it is I have to do to make people think differently of me. I try and try but nothing changes. It hurts to know I am the one person from work who will always be excluded from social activities outside of work, i.e., I'm never gonna be the popular girl! So, on one hand I continue to get my feelings hurt because I hear about this party or that function that I wasn't invited to, yet on the other, why would I want to be in a room full of people who think I'm unapproachable?! My best defense has been to take no offense, to be true to myself(because I can't stand fakers) and to know deep down that the few friends (work and otherwise) that I have are people who have found out the truth about me... I'm not unapproachable at all.

  3. Hey 'anonymous', do I sense a bit of despair in your message perhaps? From the sound of it, your life is not where you would like it to be right now. Life changes quickly, though. There have been times when my life seemed to be everything that I ever wanted and then the rug got pulled out from under my feet and I found myself wondering why I even wanted to bother picking myself up off the floor but I guess the thing that keeps me going is the thought that "it's got to get better than this". As my post previous to this one said, we learn from our losses, no matter what those losses are and if we can build on that, we have fuller and richer lives. No, my life isn't EXACTLY what I want it to be but I guess perhaps the life I have is better than no life at all. There's an Italian proverb, "Finché c'è vita c'è speranza" which translated means "As long as there is life there is hope." I have hope that for both of us we can eventually say that the lives we're living are the lives we want.

  4. Helen, I never in a million years would have put you in the same category as myself - as unapproachable or a "witchy, bitchy, ice queen" - because I don't see you that way at all. I see you as someone who goes to the company holiday parties and has a wonderful time fitting in. You always look like you're truly enjoying the evening and having no trouble at it while I always feel awkward and out-of-place regardless of who I'm at a table with. I feel out of place at social gatherings but maybe it's not so much that I'm not cuddly as I'm not bubbly, I'm not vivacious. It's not easy for me "to let my hair down", perhaps that's a product of that swamp-Yankee stick I have helping out with my posture??

    Yes, you tell it like it is but I appreciate that in you because you're true to yourself and not being someone you're not just so that people like you. Sometimes I think it's a high price to pay for us to be true to ourselves because we are the ones being left on the sidelines and feeling left out and yes, getting our feelings hurt, but like you said, those who have taken the time to get to know us, the people that we can call true friends, know that the depths of our friendship knows no bounds.

    As Shakespeare said so many, many, many years ago "This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man." We may be unapproachable bitchy, witchy, ice queens but we're true to ourselves and to everyone around us. And that's GOT to count for something!

  5. Anonymous3:24 PM EDT

    Linda, Linda, Linda. CUDDLY? Puh-leese!

    For those who might see this & not know my relationship to Linda, let me just say that I sat down next to her at work one day {over 20 yrs ago] and within minutes, everyone in the room wanted to know where we had previously met and & how long we had been friends. The questions were hilarious, because we had NEVER met, at least not in this life--but one would never had known it by our behavior. We were yukking it up like a couple of loonies--which, believe me, draws a bit of attention in a police dispatch center.

    Funnier still is the fact that most people who know either of us perceives us as so different that most are perplexed by our ongoing friendship.

    Helen, you're so right; I find that folks who are labled as unapproachable often make the most loyal, warm and real friends. I can't stand fakers either. I would ask, though, that you be as careful in application of the "faker" label as you are in hoping to be perceived as the great person I have no doubt you are.

    Sometimes we chameleons are labeled as fakers, and that hurts us as much as the Ice Queen title hurts you. I'm too lazy to check Webster's for their definition of chameleon, but WordWeb defines same as 1. A changeable or inconstant person. At first glance, that sounds like another way of saying faker. The difference is in the nuances. People who don't give a damn about nuance, depth or anything else beyond the tip of their own nose aren't going to bother to get to know you, me, Linda or anyone else, and that's good, because life is too short and we have too much to do. We don't need them.

    I think Linda will attest to my lizard-like flexibility, not a bit of which is fake. I can certainly vouch for the fact that there isn't a teddy **** in the world that has anything on her when it comes to being cuddly--believe me, I've watched her work "cuddly" in all aspects of the word, and she has it down. Period. EOM.

  6. Anonymous3:30 PM EDT

    Whoops...all those asterisks in the last paragraph of the previous comment were cat-related typos . Typical of chamelons. Spellchecking just isnt our thing. It was supposed to say teddy BEAR!

  7. I'm with Cyndi!! No, I haven't known Linda for 20 some odd years, but just long enough to know that she IS cuddly! Hey, Linda, remember the night you worked a double last week (Saturday the 16th)?? Would I have come 1/2 way down the bay just to get a hug from you before you went home if I thought you were some "witchy, bitchy Ice Queen"??? C'mon! I don't waste my time on unapproachables. Besides, we're cut from the same cloth. I need "warming up" before I become softer towards others. Until then, I'm as cuddly as a 5" gun on a US Navy Destroyer!!

  8. Anonymous11:08 AM EDT

    Helen and Linda,

    Neither of you is thought of as "unapproachable" except by a select few who probably don't understand the meaning of the word. You are both PROFESSIONAL WOMEN who have a difficult job to do. I have had the pleasure of working with both of you professionally and interacting with you socially. You are both intelligent, caring, and proficient at what you do. So you come off as a little stand-off-ish. If others can't see the women you really are then that it is thier loss.

    Kudos to both of you.

  9. Anonymous9:41 PM EDT

    That's it Linda! I'm spooning you the next time I see you!! Okay, maybe not that far. I am gonna give you a big hug though! Unapproachable my ***!! (not cat related)I think that whatever *** (still not the cat) said that you were unapproachable meant was that they are not secure enough to recognize a confident, intelligent, warm human being. I actually consider myself to be shy, but have been accused of being intimidating and unapproachable. I am not my bubbly, vivacious self until I have gotten to know someone. To know I can trust them with my being myself. I remember sitting in the crew lounge when I was a newbie and someone asked "Don't you ever talk?" I told him "Just wait until I get to know you and you won't be able to get me to shut up!" But knowing that people tend to see me that way makes me conciously try to be overtly friendly to strangers. Also, alcohol helps too. It helps in a lot of things. But you should not drink it while taking pain medication. PS I'm gonna hug Helen too!

  10. Anonymous4:35 PM EDT

    Ohhhhhh GEEZ... What have I done now!! Open mouth, insert foot.. I'm not sure how this whole thing started, either. BUT, I confess!! It was I who said that Linda was uncuddly! Well, it was more along the lines of, "I don't think of you as the cuddly 'type'". I certainly didn't mean that I thought you were unapproachable. I merely meant that I didn't think you were one of those over-the-top, mushy, baby lovers, who go 'ga-ga' over little fingers and toes and baby barf! Of course, now I feel horrible, and like a big 'ol meanie for making you cry. I would like to formally apologize to you for implying that you werent't cuddly and making you feel like a "witchy, bitchy, ice queen"... I'M SORRY! I'll also say that I have spent a fair amount of time with you (or around you, anyway) outside of work, and have seen you let your guard down long for long enough to realize that you're not as rough and tough as you sometimes come across on the job. You are always the thoughtful one in our department, planning our next pot-luck, or posing as our spokesperson and trying to make the "Ivory Tower" a happier place to be. I love you and you KNOW that! So, don't be sad about my big mouth, because things rarely come out the way I intend them to! P.s. Thanks for pulling strings to get Halloween costumes approved this year... I won't let you down!


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