I have a wonderful dogsitter named Bonnie. She takes my two little furry nuggets on walks, lets them out to potty, and when she’s at the house for extended periods, she does dishes, makes the bed, and takes out the trash. She’s pretty fantastic and everyone should have a Bonnie.
Recently, I walked into the house after work and she still happened to be there. We made small talk as she sat down on the couch. Her face was very serious and her tentative body language said something was off.
While inquiring as to if she was ok, I set my things down and kicked off my shoes. She continued to look at me as if she was afraid to tell me I had something hanging from my nose.
Immediately I run through the list. Both dogs are here. Check. House is flame free. Check. No blood in sight. Check. Now my internal What-The-Heck meter was on serious alert.
I sat on the opposite couch and asked again if she was ok. She sheepishly began to share that she wasn’t judging me, but she was worried. About how she knows I can take care of myself, but she’s concerned about my choices.
I can’t quite keep up with her words as I try to read between the lines. I ask casually, “Bonnie, what’s going on? What are you talking about?”
She continues with a sideways glance, “I don’t want to sound judgmental or make assumptions about your decisions, but I found…. something.”
“What the heck are you talking about?”
“Looks like somebody slept in the guest bed? Did you have company?”
“Oh yea, the sun was coming in Sunday afternoon and was so inviting I took a nap. Is there a reason I need to explain this to you?”
“Also, something else maybe??”
“Seriously, Bonnie, if you don’t just tell me what’s going on….”
Looking me right in the eyes she says, “Tara if you’re pregnant, it’s ok. I love you and support you.”
Uncontrollable laughter. I cackle, “What the hell are you talking about??”
She goes on to share that she found the pregnancy test in my bathroom trash.
Oh, Dear Lord, The Stories We Make Up
A few nights before the pregnancy test debacle with the dogsitter, a friend came over for dinner. This friend is just a few years younger than me and shared with me that her period was a few weeks late. We giggled trying to decide if she was pregnant or menopausal. Then we decided it maybe wasn’t so comical and ran to Walgreens to get a test.
She wasn’t pregnant, but the open pregnancy test in my trash sent the dog sitter on quite an imaginative ride. The story she made up seemed accurate with the data she had at the time, but it wasn’t true. It was a story she made up.
We do it all the time:
- He doesn’t say hi in the hall, we assume he is angry at us.
- She doesn’t text back as quickly as we’d like, we assume she is rejecting us.
- He looks at her a split second too long, we assume he’s tiring of us.
- She isn’t home on time, we assume she doesn’t want to spend time with us.
- His tone is short, we assume we’ve offended him.
Again, it could be that we’re right in our assumption, but we could also be very, very wrong.
We often are wrong. In my experience, the more certain we feel we need to be in our assumptions, the more often we are inaccurate.
Making shit up
I teach my clients to say, “the story I make up is….”
It’s a handy little line to use because most of what we think – we are actually just making up. We don’t actually know. We assume, guess, and speculate. Often the things we think we are sure about, we are just making shit up. It might even be an educated guess, but guessing nonetheless.
We might be accurate, or we might be mistaken.
The difficulty is, we so often think (and say) things that we don’t actually know. We’ve forgotten to call it what it really is: conjecture. We don’t even realize we are doing it.
Let’s check in more. Let’s get vulnerable enough to ask if what we are thinking is true. Let’s be humble enough to know we may not be as smart or insightful as we think we are.
The good thing about Bonnie is, she checked in. She understood she didn’t have all the data, and although awkward, she sought to understand and clarify. We all need to do more of that.
P.S. We’ve since talked about boundaries. And, no, I’m not pregnant. 🙂