I made a list tonight of the people in my life who found me very difficult to deal with, and who I have found very difficult to deal with.
Then I looked at the names I had written down.
This is a fascinating experiment. You might want to give this a go yourself – you might see connections you weren’t aware of before.
Looking at the names on my list, I think they have a few things in common.
- Of all the many people I have met in my life, these are the ones who seemed to only be able to deal with me by some sort of aggression, overt or more subtle. These are people who feel they need to control me in some way, to “contain” me because I don’t fit what they need or want me to be. These are people who thought that I am not a good person, that I was doing them wrong or that there’s some major fault in me. That’s the message that came across each time. And I felt unsettled by it, and started doubting myself and losing confidence.
I found being with and near these people very difficult. I could not be myself near any of them. And I ended up feeling unsafe with them.
All of these people were fine by me to begin with. I was perfectly willing to love or like them, to work with them, to be in relationship with them.
It’s good to remember that there are a lot of people who were on the same levels of closeness with me and have no such issues with me. I might annoy or irritate them sometimes, I might even hurt them at times, or be hurt by them, but they and I are able to work that out. That’s what normal human relationships and conflicts are like. With the people I listed, that didn’t work.
- None of them considered me their equal.
I usually considered myself theirs, and acted accordingly. Expecting to be heard as much as they were. I have a voice, and I use it. I have views. I make choices. And this was often the “red button” for them – that I considered them equal, not in some ways superior, to me.
- I think the people on this list all have some deep-seated sense of inadequacy. They may or may not be conscious of that, they may or may not be trying to work on that. And they particularly respond to that sense of their own inadequacy by trying to control others, in order to feel more in control of themselves and their lives.
It’s about co-dependency, isn’t it. I’m sure that’s part of this equation. Having had this sort of experience in my family while growing up is very likely the reason that my emotional struggle with this sort of behaviour is so intense.
What this list tells me in the end is that
I don’t need to believe what these people think of me.
They are not valid representatives of what my relationships are generally like. They are a handful of people. They seem to have something dysfunctional in their psyche.
They react to me in ways that I am not responsible for. They are responsible for their reactions.
What I need to do is to look after myself while I’m around them when they react.
What I don’t need to do is take their reaction as a mirror of who I am.
It’s important that I don’t start to see myself as they see me. Because that’s not the perspective I need or want to live by. Their reaction to me is not the truth of who I am.
And if I need reassurance of my own worth and goodness and “lovableness”, I have loving and caring friends who are able to help me with that, and I can pray to hear and feel God tell me that I’m Her Beloved, her Love.
There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with me.
I’m okay as I am. Not perfect. And I don’t need to be.
The last similarity is that
- all the people on this list drain me of life.
That’s important to know too.
If I can, it’s good to not spend my energy on being around these people. There’s no point. They won’t change, or if they do, then not because of what I do or don’t do, say or don’t say.
That’s what I need to know.
This is not about me.
I’m okay as I am.
And the time will come when I don’t need to go through these lengthy thought processes anymore to remember that…
Peace be with me, and with them.