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U and I and iPhone

two small heartsMy iPhone gets me in trouble often. Recently, I was responding by text to a friend regarding where we might meet for dinner. After a suggestion of location, I responded with “Okey Dokey”. Autocorrect didn’t quite grasp my midwest version of ”ok”, and responded to my friend with “Honkey Monkey”.

I find that these quirky nuances of the iPhone are humility creating events from time to time. The “U” and “I” are so darn close together on the keyboard. I cannot be expected to hit the right buttons all the time. So, I send texts that read, “I are the best” or “Thank I so much” or “U will see u at 3. Can’t wait. Love I”.

One evening several friends were at my house. They got on the subject of Tara’s Texting and they each pointed out that in just that one day I had sent them each a text with the incorrect use of I and U. The embarrassing thing was that I didn’t realize I’d done it. One friend said, “Oh, you do that all the time. I have to use my secret decoder ring when I get a text from you”.

Perhaps this routinely errant pronoun usage has more to do with my co-dependent, addicted nature than it does with the arrangement of letters on a QWERTY keyboard.

There was a time when I did not know the difference between U and I. I was unable to tell  where I ended and another person began. I was so attuned to what other people needed; I knew it before they did. I could meet other’s needs quicker than they knew they had one.

I thought it was a virtuous trait. I could help and serve and was frustrated when others didn’t do the same. What I didn’t know was, my exceedingly helpful nature was actually just a way to control and manipulate. If I could control someone, I didn’t have to fear him.

However, in my state of Emotional Bloodhound, I lost the ability to tell the different between U and I.

If you felt sad, I felt sad. If you were anxious, I was anxious. I lost all sense of my own soul. I couldn’t recognize a feeling unless you were having it. This, of course, made relationships of any kind painful for me and empty for you.

If I am focused on what you’re feeling, I don’t have to deal with my own pain, fear or shame. If I allow you to be my emotional barometer, I don’t have to acknowledge that my heart is shattered or my soul is vacant. I was an emotional parasite.

My ability to navigate the relational landscape by knowing what U were feeling kept me safe…and alone.

As I began to learn that I could have my own feelings, I felt lost. So terribly lost. Lost like a little girl who thought she grabbed her mommy’s skirt at the store and realized it was a stranger’s.

I had no idea what to do without someone else’s emotions telling me if I was angry, joyful, or afraid. The emptiness of that process, the process of separating U and I, was terrifying. Someone else’s emotions had always been my compass. The trial and error of finding my own emotional compass was painful and disorienting, but ultimately freeing.

With true connection, I found I could love and care for someone without having to lose myself in the process. We could be connected and individuals, which creates freedom and relational stability.

There are still times when I find myself feeling lost emotionally. I may be feeling overly responsible for another’s emotions or circumstances. If I feel a strong connection with another person, I may have to give myself some time to sort through the emotional hit to find myself again.

But, the freedom and clarity that comes with identifying my own emotions and allowing other’s to be responsible for their own, is like the first chilly morning after a long sweltering summer. It infuses life back into a listless heart and makes breathing easier.

Now, whenever I discover I’ve texted “U” when I mean “I”, it’s a reminder to take a moment and see how I’m feeling. Have I hijacked your emotions from U, or am I taking care of my own heart?

U hope U enjoyed his post…


  1. This post has been a kick in the butt for me. One can only live in denial for so long. I’ve worked long and hard to overcome many things, and I know I have a long way to go. Add codependency to the list (ughhh – it pains me to even admit that out loud). Based on your writings and what you specialize in, I only wish your counseling was possible. I’m really striking out with the counselors I’ve seen.

  2. Great post!

  3. Nicely Said!

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