Someone says: "I am really tired."
You hear, "I am really tired. I am because you spent so much time obsessing about (_________) that you didn't get anything else done and now I am forced to do all of the real life things that must actually be done. And because of this I am vaguely repelled by you and don't want to spend any time with you, I'm going to bed."
Someone says: "I think we just have different taste in movies."
You hear: "We have nothing in common. We are completely incompatible and our relationship is doomed. And I can't believe you liked that movie. That's it. We're done."
Someone says: "You are really important to me."
You hear: "You are not actually important to me. In fact I wouldn't notice if you disappeared off the face of the earth. But I find you pitiful, so I'm going to say something nice because that seems like the polite thing to do."
Someone says: "Do you have anything going on this week?"
You hear: "My god, do you have any idea how to keep a calendar? Do I always have to be the one to remind you of your obligations? Honestly I have no idea how you would survive without me."
Someone says: "How are you?"
You hear: "I haven't heard from you for a really long time and clearly I am not important enough to you that you will return my phone calls. So I am using 'how are you' ironically because I couldn't give a crap how you are."
Someone says: "Thanks for the (_______________)
You hear: "Aren't you ever going to write the thank-you notes that you owe me for all the gifts I have given you for the past four decades? I can't believe what an ungrateful boob you are. I shouldn't have even bothered to give you a gift if you aren't going to write a note."
Now for the annotations:
Perhaps you went on a crying bender triggered by an innocuous comment.
Perhaps you confess that you made this ridiculous assumption.
Now where does this leave the poor person who really was just tired and really did just want some sleep? Afraid to say ANYTHING because it will be used as a tool for self-flagelation.
Aha, but here's the true beauty...
Someone says: _________________
You hear: " goddamit I can't say anything to you because you will take it the wrong way and I am tired of feeling responsible for triggering your effing mood episodes. I am so tired of having to pay attention to everything I say, walking on eggshells, having to patch things up when you are upset about fake crap that you just made up in your own head. So I'm just done talking to you about anything. Ever. Oh, might ask for he salt to be passed. Or I might tell you that I think you are important. But beyond that... meh."
SOMETIMES (and it is impossible to tell when these times will be)
Someone says: "I am really tired"
You hear: "I am really tired."
(but you can always go back later and rethink your interpretation if the mood strikes)
Quaker, teacher, parent,