A while back, I had an interaction with a person who usually drives me crazy. But this time, I held it together and made it through the conversation without losing my top; I just boiled on the inside. But I was still pissed. REALLY pissed. This person usually is able to manipulate me with a snap of her fingers but I held my ground, set my boundaries, so I should have been proud of myself, right? And I did it all without raising my voice once. But the anger was still there. Irrational, uncontrollable amounts of anger.
Luckily, I had an appointment with my therapist a few days later (funny how that always happens, huh?). And we talked and talked and how this person pushes my buttons. I explained the situation and my therapist felt it really wasn’t that big of a deal, so – what was really getting me so wound up?
And we realized that the situation, and the person for that matter, were tapping into a time of my life where I was incredibly lonely, incredibly rejected – and THAT was what I was feeling. I was being a 13 year old all over again. Not the (mostly) reasonable 37 year old woman I have come to be.
I could feel the tears welling up behind my eyes and I realized we must have hit upon the problem. Rejection has always been a major hot button for me. In fact, I think it’s why I am so open and upfront about my life sometimes… as in, let me barf out my crap all over you and if you still want to stick around: COOL!
And while I had built the emotional strength to keep the boundaries strong and not actually give in to the manipulation this person always throws into my life, I still felt it. It still made me ache. It still made me feel like that 13 year old girl who hated when semesters changed at school – because that girl didn’t have the pluck to just walk up to a lunchtable and say, “Hey! Can I join you?” The girl that didn’t have those tight girlfriends that help you through the awkward middle school years, the ones that teach you to paint your nails and giggle the hours away on the phone with you. One of my most terrible memories from that time was being told I was 6th choice for a playdate. SIXTH.
And since I was so fearful of rejection, I was easily manipulated. Oh, nothing dangerous or unethical – but I became a people-pleaser. Even when it was totally unfair. Even when I felt like I was being judged without a trial. I would make nice-nice.
And that feeling has obviously carried forward with me. AND PISSES ME OFF.
So my therapist gently reminded me to act my age.
…That I handled the situation correctly. That I politely held my boundaries. That I didn’t let this person manipulate me. That the only thing I needed to do now was not let it bother me. That I needed to remember it was their problem, not mine, when they are making outrageous demands. That most people would shrug and say, “Oh, there goes so-and-so, acting all crazy again.”
At least that’s what any (mostly) mature 37-year old would do, right?