I hate confrontations. I seriously, big-time loathe them. I will do almost anything to avoid them, usually to my detriment. I don’t stand up for myself. I don’t share my feelings when I’ve been hurt or harmed. I am determined to not rock the boat.
It is not a policy that works out well. For me, at any rate. It works out fine for the people I don’t challenge. They are never called to account for their behaviour and they never think twice about doing the same thing again. And, why would they? I’ve made it clear that there are no consequences when they mistreat me.
It’s because I’m afraid. I worry that standing up for myself, or disagreeing even, will lead to my rejection. I sacrifice everything to avoid being alone.
We’re social creatures; the threat of ostracism chills our marrow and we do what we can to avoid it. But there are lines and some of us, like me, take it to extremes. We’re willing to let ourselves suffer harm rather than saying what we think or drawing a boundary. We’re willing to bury the pain and pretend we aren’t bleeding just to avoid rocking the boat. We live in fear.
I’m not going to Mexico. I’m not going to Mexico twice, in fact.
I was initially set to go on March 3, 2020 for a destination wedding. It was going to be a week in the sun, which I love, in Cancun, which I love, and I would be with people I know so I would have had resources if I ran into problems. [suicidal ideation in Mexico post]
I paid the deposit. Joined the Facebook chat. Planned to buy a new bathing suit. And then I looked at the calendar. And, looked again. And realized I was not going to be finished my radiation treatments in time. [link cancer post]
“Devastated” pretty much sums it up. And pissed. Cancer is proving to be kind of a downer. At any rate, a different group of friends came by to cheer me up and in the middle of the chat we came to a decision. We’d go to Mexico ourselves on a different date. We’d book for the beginning of April and have a girls’ trip.
We each periodically texted deals we’d seen online to the group. I sent the last a week ago and got a phone call about an hour later from one of my friends. Let’s call her Karen. I’m so sorry, she said. We were looking on line, and it was a great deal, so we booked it because we really needed a vacation.
I was beyond upset. I had to end the call. I told her; told her I couldn’t bear to talk to her at that moment. The trip we’d set up the trip to coincide with me finishing radiation was off and two of us were cut out entirely because the other two were selfish and impatient. Ironically, they booked it for the same time as the first trip I couldn’t go on, the impetus for the arrangements in the first place.
I couldn’t believe what they’d done. To simply cut us out like that without even a call to inform me that they were changing plans. I couldn’t believe they wouldn’t wait three weeks for the trip we initially planned.
It was a bad night sleep. Yes, I was angry but that’s really just hurt and sadness. I was counting on that trip, a lot. I was counting on my friends. I felt – still feel – betrayed. It felt so selfish and inconsiderate. I needed that trip, needed something to look forward to.
It’s been a difficult few months. The depression has been awful, I’m losing another tooth, my parents are having health issues, my homelife is complicated, and I’m getting cancer treatment. I know I only have low-level cancer but still. It’s been a hard slog. And now the thing I was counting on had been yanked away. And I really wasn’t sure what to do about that.
What have I done to date? I’m quite proud of myself actually. I stood my ground. I talked to Karen, told her what I was feeling and why. I told her I was angry and hurt. It was terrifying. I was expecting an attack. I was expecting to be abandoned as a friend forthwith. But, I’m tired of being a doormat. So, I shared my truth. She prevaricated and tried to make excuses and then stopped. And then, she apologized.
The apology was nice because it’s not how I expect things to go when I stand up for myself. It was nice to stare fear down and prove it wrong. Unfortunately, it changes nothing. The Mexico trip is going without me. And I’m still devastated. Once again, the litany races in my head: Why me? I’m a good person.
I didn’t hear from my second friend, who we’ll call Susan, for a full week and then what I got was a two-line text with a shrug emoji. I consider that to be a day late and a dollar short. So now I’ve got some thinking to do about the quality of our relationship. Whether we have a friendship or are merely friendly acquaintances.
I’ll get over the disappointment. I’ll forgive and we’ll move on in some fashion. But the friendships have been altered and my sense of trust damaged.
I realized some things about myself as a result of this depressing debacle.
First, it’s good to check in with a neutral party in cases of extreme emotion. Another point is view is very helpful. I had started to wonder, as I thought about what had transpired, if I was overreacting? If maybe it was my fault in some way? If maybe I shouldn’t be upset because they hadn’t intended harm? Was it okay for me to think this thoughtless and selfish?
The friend I checked in with backed me up. My friends and I had been planning a specific trip for a specific time for a specific reason. Karen and Susan co-opted it for themselves, leaving me out and making alternative plans without ever talking to me because they were impatient and “needed a break”. They didn’t even have the basic courtesy to let me know what they’d done. Their protestations after-the-fact, that they meant no harm, that we could do another trip later, felt hollow.
Having your feelings validated is a good thing. It helped me when Karen called back so we could talk. Being heard helped me express myself more clearly. It helped me challenge her justifications without backing down. It made me strong enough to say “You know what? I’m angry and sad and hurt and you can’t fix that. I’m allowed to feel these things and I will feel them until I don’t. It doesn’t mean we aren’t friends. It means that I feel bad and you’ll just have to wait ‘til I feel better.”
Challenge people who hurt you. Speak your truth. You are allowed to feel what you feel. You are allowed to talk about it. You can even tell people you are mad at them.
The other thing I realized is this:
You can’t make external things your reason for living. I put too much weight on the trip, a thing “out there”. Out there is beyond your control and things happen. Any number of things could have arisen to prevent me from going. The promise of something good in the future can’t be the thing that’s holding your life together. That’s not being in control of your life in any way. You have to live in a way that makes things okay, or at least manageable, in the now.
Better to have internal motivations that endure changes to external circumstance. Fate really doesn’t much care what you have planned or how much you want it, anyhow.