I recently had the pleasure of speaking to a dear friend, someone older, wiser, who has had similar life experiences as my own. We’ve known each other for a few years now, we’ve shared a lot of personal information, having met on an emotional support site online.
After sharing what had happened the other day, the blog and the nasty, threatening comments/messages that were left, she asked me a question and offered examples to support her suspicions and I truly had an epiphany.
She asked me if I could see anything familiar in the behaviors of the various people who’d come and gone from my life.
At first, I drew a blank. She went on to say she did see familiarity between the people in my life who’d caused me pain over the years. She began to list off things she’d noticed when we’d been chatting.
Competitiveness. It seemed that a lot of the people in my life appeared to be constantly competing with me, even though I had not thought of our relationship in that way. A lot of the behavior people demonstrated made her believe they felt intimidated.
Resentment. She felt it seemed that people actually resented me for my accomplishments and achievements in life, that I’m disabled and still strive to adapt and overcome.
Narcissism. So many people in my life seem to think they should be my priority, that I should put their needs above my own, as if they have more value, more importance. They are due respect, but I am not.
Bullying. She thought it seemed to her that there were a lot of threats made, whether they be regarding participation in the friendship, the ending of the friendship, controlling how I behave, etc.
She pointed out that it seemed to her that insecure people were drawn to me. She said, “I think at first they admire you, but in short order they begin to compare themselves to you and see all their shortcomings in your achievements, especially since you are physically disabled.” She suggested that perhaps I seek out such people, trying to reconcile a previous relationship with a similar person.
Though I’m not conscious of seeking out such people or allowing these folks to have places of importance in my life, there certainly is a trend.
Without realizing it, I’ve been trying to reconcile my relationship with my mother. One failed friendship after another, as if played out by a common script, have become a pattern in my life.
I’ve struggled, for years, to figure out what I could have done differently, in my relationship with my mother, so that it would have ended better, or perhaps not ended, allowed me to leave home and avoid the abuse, but have some sort of cordial relationship with her.
I can see now, in looking at it in relationship to my mother, that I tried to be whatever these “friends” needed me to be, offered to do more and more, allowed them to disrespect and belittle me, to try to secure their love, affection and approval. In a twisted way, I was trying to gain the approval and acceptance of my mother, by putting myself into situations with people who possessed her characteristics.
My wise friend confided to me that she had this same realization about herself in regard to the men in her life. She had an abusive relationship earlier in her life and seemed to be constantly putting herself back into the same type of relationship, as if she were trying to “fix” it, “make it work”.
This really made sense to me.
She cautioned me that now that I was aware, the trick was to be more discriminating in choosing friends and to create healthy boundaries for myself, so that I didn’t fall back into old habits. She also suggested that when those old feelings start to resurface, I need to stop myself, do some reflection and if it feels like it did with my mother I need to recognize the relationship isn’t healthy and remove myself.
I’m definitely a work in progress. I won’t be a victim. I’ll continue to strive to be a better me than I was yesterday. There’s a lesson to be learned from every set-back.