About a month or so ago I had an “intervention” of sorts. I met a friend of a friend, who has now become my friend. And she intervened in my life, by talking to me about myself. In many ways it came out casually as talking about other things and then it came to the point of talking about what is going on with me and with my life. The conversation made me very uncomfortable.
I hate talking about myself, especially in public. I don’t like being pushed for answers it makes me breakdown. Especially if it starts to feel like a lecture. This new friend, Liz, came at me with a ton of questions and tough love similar to my mother. That breathing down your throat I’m going to push you until you are uncomfortable and say something kind of tough love. You see in the last four years of living overseas, I haven’t had any friends like that. I haven’t had a friend that pushes past my ‘shutting down mentality.’ So they don’t know when I am shutting down in public or they don’t know how to deal with it.
I shut down when I am uncomfortable. I stop answering questions and I just say okay, sure, whatever, I got it, I know. I want to leave. I want to flee as far from the scene as possible, so that I can recover my sanity. My emotions are flying, I might have tears running down my face, my adrenaline is cursing through my veins and I just sit there not knowing what to do.
Liz knew I was shutting down and addressed it. She told me not to shut down to fight through it. If you make it through that uncomfortable feeling you will be okay. And I sat there uncomfortably for the first time. I was able to come out and say how I feel about certain things. How I hate confrontation so even though I’m sick and tired of hearing what you have to say, I won’t say anything. Because I want to avoid it, because it doesn’t make a difference. Being able to say I can listen to the shit going on in people’s lives, but I can’t listen to it for hours as the only topic was liberating. (It is still an issue at times, but it has been at least thrown in the open.)
For me hanging out with others that can only talk about the things I don’t have in life (that I want) for hours on end is damaging to my mood. I’m cool for an hour or two. If I’ve been listening to it for four or more hours I’m starting to feel negative about myself and where I am at in life. I learned its okay to say that. I learned its okay to say I don’t share anything about my life with others, because to me it isn’t a big deal. I don’t have big events going on in my life. I’m not dating. I’m not married. I’m not pregnant. I don’t have kids. I’m not planning my future and worrying about things. So when I want to say something, I can say I’m working on myself. I’m worried I won’t have what all of you have. It just seems insignificant in the grand scheme of life even if it is just as meaningful to me.
To me finding myself and learning to love myself is important work that I have neglected. It also seems a bit shameful to say I’m still working on it at 31 when others all seem to have figured out who they are and what they want in life, even though I know, that isn’t me. Liz told me, I’m single and working on yourself means you will keep growing as a person. Most people once they are married and with kids become stagnant. They lose parts of themselves and can’t grow the same way someone who is single can. I can see the value in that and it made me feel somewhat relieved, but at the same time made me a bit envious of that stagnation bit. When will my stagnation set in?
Her intervention was one of the most uncomfortable things for me to sit through. I did it. I learned a lot about myself and how I view myself. How when others say things to me even if I am making improvements it sometimes feels like I’m being discredited. Or I’m being attacked for my choice of words. My choice of words are some what defeatist or neutral in nature which means they aren’t great for cheering myself on. But they are my own words and in changing my inner dialogue that takes time. Like she said all those negative comments through my life aren’t just what I feel and hold on to, they have transformed into my own inner dialogue from years of cycling through my mind. It’s hard to admit that you have used the words that hurt you as your own inner dialogue with yourself.
I’m slowly changing that even before this intervention. Yet those words resonated with me as I realized how true that is. Words hurt. They sting and they cut deep. Actions that can be linked to words also leave an impression on us in a good or bad way. Part of learning to break that mold is ending the negative talk and replacing it with something neutral or positive. I strive for a little progress versus no progress. I decided for once that I am going to not say no to myself, or shut myself down if I really want something. I am going to say it, and whether it works or not then that is the answer. But at least now I’m willing to give it a try before giving up like I did before.
I’m thankful for my intervention that had me crying in a cafe until 10 p.m. one night. I got to see a lot about myself. I got to voice my opinion and it was listened to instead of being passed over within a 10 minute period. I can’t tell people how to react to me or how to treat me. I can’t plant that in my head that that is how people will react or feel either, as I’m not the keeper of their emotions. One of the easiest ways to protect oneself is to distance yourself and anticipate how others are going to react to you. It doesn’t mean that is how they will, but if your mind is already set on it that might just turn into reality.
My lovely intervention a month ago, by my new friend Liz, who I had only met once before, helped me grow as a person. It helped me acknowledge where I am succeeding and what I still need to work on. So I challenge others that even if it is uncomfortable, try to sit through a situation like that. That one time don’t run. Just let the waves of emotion hit you and you will feel yourself become lighter through the process.