What sent me to therapy initially was the problem of messy relationships. I definitely had a part in making them messy: lack of good boundaries, an unwillingness to say “no” and overresponsibility. People pick up on things like that. If they sense that you already believe that their happiness is your job, they will make their happiness your job. Simple as that.They will put the responsibility of the relationship squarely on your shoulders and then will complain when you fail. Or maybe they won’t complain, but you will end up resenting the heck out of them.
My therapist and I spent a lot of time talking about relationships and how to take back the power of “no.” That small word packs a huge punch. In saying “no,” I differentiate between myself and someone else. I claim what is mine and step away from what is not mine. I draw the proverbial line in the sand. This far and no more.
She warned me that there would be consequences to putting that “no” into practice, but that they were consequences I could deal with. They would show me what my relationships were really made of. It might be painful in the short run, but that “no” would be rewarding in the long. Every proper, healthy “no” would enable me to say a proper, healthy “yes” elsewhere.
There were consequences. There was fallout. A lot of it was easy to handle; slight adjustments in relating to others. Some of it was difficult and involved conflict. But I didn’t die or anything. Just kept moving forward.
And yet I assume the worst.
It used to be that I would assume the worst and say “yes” to anyone and anything, just to try and avoid whatever I thought might happen. Nowadays I say “no” with regularity but do so from underneath the table, hoping to ward off some of the blows from the storm that I am just positive is going to come. The illogical logic in this assumption straightforward: If I assume the worst and the worst happens, then at least I’m prepared for it.
Except that’s not ever how it works. And I’m also miserable in the meantime, but, hey. Whatever.
I said the logic was illogical.
Do you have any idea how exhausting it is when everyone’s happiness is on your shoulders? We could talk about how this is a bizarre form of pride, because it is. I’m not avoiding the reality of that. But, as I said before, when people take advantage of your vulnerabilities and burn you on many occasions, it’s difficult to avoid thinking that it’s going to happen again.
Honestly? I assume that most people are angry with me all the time. And It’s just so frustrating to never feel safe.
I need to make a choice.
I choose to assume nothing. Given my current mental and bodily states, it’s going to be monumentally difficult to assume nothing, but if I keep on down the road on which I find myself today, I will wind up in a very dark place. I don’t want to go there. There isn’t a single relationship I have, not even my marriage, that’s worth it.
More importantly, sacrificing my relationship with God and my sense of identity on the altar of people-pleasing isn’t worth it. People are fickle. They are impossible. There is only One who can meet the needs of all the people in my life, and that One sure ain’t me. I’m not rejecting relationships; I’m just rejecting relationships as the be-all, end-all focus of my life. I can’t let them twist me into a pretzel. That happened before and it is far, far too painful.
So, if someone is mad at me and chooses to sulk or give me the silent treatment instead of being honest? If someone is bored on a Friday night and expects me to provide entertainment? If someone wants to say mean things about me to others?
Her problem. His issue. Her choice.
To read all the posts in The Detox Diaries series, go here.