There is something that annoys me. I mean, it really gets at me, right under the skin. It makes me want to scream and sigh and roll my eyes and snap people out of it any way I can.
Have you ever met someone who is a one-upper? I’m sure you have. Every story you tell is followed by a grander tale. Every time you go through something, you’re told about something so much more traumatic.
I spent a lot of time recently with a one-upper. She is someone who constantly compares her life to everyone else’s. In her mind, her problems are always worse, her stories are always taller, her concerns are always more important. This woman is a very caring person who has all of the best intentions. But our relationship suffers.
I am unable to talk to this woman from my heart because I know that she will only diminish what I say by one-upping. And I bite my tongue often during conversations so that my frustration isn’t evident.
Whatever relationship we do have is stunted.
This is the problem with one-upmanship.
I get it though. Especially with women.
As women, we crave community. We desire love and friendship. We want someone to care. And so, in seeking these things, we do the one thing that undermines everything.
We alienate ourselves.
When we try to garnish care and sympathy by one-upping sob stories, we are saying that we are alone in our pain. Alienating.
When we take the focus away from other women’s stories and turn it onto our own, we are being selfish. Alienating.
When we act as experts, giving our friends simple solutions to their complex problems, we are diminishing their feelings. Alienating.
Why can’t we share the pain? Why can’t we listen? Why can’t we try to understand? Why can’t we act in ways that encourage a thriving community of women.
Lately, I’ve been really thankful for so many of the women in my life. I have forged deeper bonds and tighter friendships. I have opened up and been embraced. I have laughed and cried and shared feelings that I didn’t even realize I could articulate.
It took me about a week not to feel so alone.
It took me about a week to open up and be vulnerable.
When I was hurt, I found out that others knew my pain and hurt with me. I found women who listened. I found friends and I found that I was not alone.
Amongst all of the sharing and the caring, I realized why it is so important to have women friends. I found healing in the protective arms of friendship. I found healing in a community of women who didn’t diminish my pain but who have experienced pain (be it similar or not) enough to ache with me. Instead of feeling alone in my grief, I felt a slow rejuvenation.
So let’s just stop. One-upping is easy but deceptive. We can’t draw closer to each other by being selfish. We can’t create friendships by engineering false sympathy. No matter how hard we try, we can’t and won’t encourage community through this alienation.
As women, we need other women in our lives.
To those in my life who have been there for me during this past little while, thank you. To those who have reached out, thank you. To those who have just remained quiet, thank you. Thank you Mom. Thank you to my women’s bible study. Thank you to my friends who I have seen and talked to. Thank you to the commentators on this blog: those who comment often and those who only commented that once.
In all of this, I have learned how blessed I am to have you women in my life. Let’s all try to support one another instead of playing this stupid one-upmanship game. Let’s grow a healthy community of women and mothers.
(Totally unrelated, but I haven’t blogged in so long I just have to share some Cameron cuteness.)
Photo taken January 19, 2011
10 months, 1 week, 6 days old
) lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. A wife to Dan and a mother to Cameron, she spends her free time blogging, reading, and doing photography. Her blog finds its home at http://miraclesofamily.blogspot.com
. You can find find her book reviews here
and her photography here