Perhaps it will help me clarify my thoughts, feelings, perspectives, hopes and intentions this morning if I give words to something that has been bothering me in regard to a long-standing friendship for over seven years. My friend lives on the other side of the country from me, and as far as I know will arrive for a short visit – again – within the week. I have something I need to voice to her, something I need to talk to her about — important to me — only I don’t know how.
Having been raised and formed within an insanely abusive early home for the first 18 years of my life I was forced to adapt myself to three conditions that are appearing to me today in these words: (1) terrorism, (2) tyranny, and (3) another person’s pervasive and damaging sense of entitlement.
I had no way to ever fight back against any of these “conditions” of my life.
I often wonder how much of who-how I am in the world would have been ME even without the abuse and trauma. Would I have been a retiring, quiet, shy, unassertive person anyway? Would I have had the troubles that I have in defining my own needs and desires, as well as being able to articulate my reactions to people’s actions if I had not been forced to survive in Mother’s hell?
Would I still have had trouble sticking up for myself, stating my perspective, telling people how I feel in reaction to things that transpire in relationships? Would I still have had trouble in doing something other than enduring and watching while I say absolutely NOTHING about what bothers me? Would I be able to believe that how I feel and what matters to me has value, enough so that I could risk (dare) to speak up when it best suits me?
Would I still have been a watcher?
I notice things. I notice something that happened all those years ago when my friend and her daughter and partner came to stay at my house for a few days back then. I had a part-time minimum wage job. I HINTED – meaning I thought I had made myself clear enough – that I needed to work while these people were staying with me. The hints did not seem to be (a) heard or (b) respected and honored.
I dared not leave the house while they were visiting because it seemed to me they WANTED me to remain with them — why?
I spoke with my boss on each of these days, a woman who gave me flexibility to not come into work, although I lost my meager income for these days. My problem is that I could not speak about my own reality in the face of somebody else’s!
I suppose I did not wish to upset them, to risk making a mess of this friendship. My pattern is to let things happen, let them go on, not interfere, make my own adjustments to other people’s patterns, with the hopes that “in time” things will naturally take care of themselves.
That’s how I got through the first 18 years of my life.
Time did go on, and two years ago my friend came back for a short day visit. We went to lunch in town, sitting to eat outside on a warm day on the cafe’s plaza. A woman my friend had known many years ago while they both lived in a nearby city walked by. My friend struck up a conversation over the low fence that separated the tables from the street with this woman — and talked for 45 minutes.
Not once was my presence acknowledged. I sat there eating in silence – alone – as I usually am – and said nothing. I felt awkward, disappointed, and screwed up all of my own courage not to feel hurt or angry.
Here it is, time again for my friend to return for a short visit. Meanwhile?
All the questions that go with my patterns are implied here instead of listed in detail. On the one hand I understand why at my advancing age I am completely unskilled in negotiating situations like these. On the other hand I don’t want a repeat of this, nor do I want to know on the inside of me there’s a pile of unresolved feelings that I am paralyzed to give words to in order to tell my friend about any of this!
I just want “things” to be fine – always fine – and in my universe that means never speaking up for myself it doing so “might” upset someone else – so that they “get mad” at me.
This is a big deal to me or I would have forgotten about all of this long ago. I am stuck between my social awkwardness and my fear. I put in a call to my friend this morning who was busy and will call me back this afternoon. I am not looking forward to trying to address these concerns of mine. I don’t know how.
What peace do I think I am trying to keep? At what price? Do I have my friend on a pedestal? Do I not feel I am her equal in every way? Nobody is going to do this for me, this work that I detest! This is not a perfect world and nobody is perfect in it. This is not about fault or shame or blame. It is not about accusations or apologies.
In fact, I don’t really have a CLUE what this IS about!!! Not really. Well, perhaps today when my friend and I speak something about this mess will straighten itself out, no matter how scared I am. I guess I will soon find out.
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