They claim to always be there for me, and to try to help me with my self-confidence. So it sucked pretty hard when they called me out on things, both in the same night. I'm over it today, but it was a devastating experience for a few hours. And they don't even know how much of an impact it had on me.
I've been trying to shut up this voice in my head, the one that says, you aren't worth anything, stop fooling yourself, people have no reason to care about you or prioritize you in any way. It came back full force last night in response to what I was being told, and I wasn't sure if I could stop it this time.
I had been asking for help with a problem. I hadn't realized that they were still discussing something they had already started working on; I had thought they were finished with that topic, so when I chimed in and got no response, well, I reacted based on what I've learned to usually be true. I'm so used to being ignored in conversations that at first it didn't occur to me that maybe they had heard me and chosen to put off responding for a little while.
Then, after I went quiet because I was sad and confused about their behavior, he said "don't worry, we're not ignoring you, we're just dealing with this first". Hmm. I had been so used to the ignoring that I had assumed they were doing it. How safe is it to put those assumptions away? What if I need them again? I might need my old reaction formations at some point and if I put them away now, I'll be stranded. I need to remember how to deal with this kind of treatment so that whenever it happens again, I'll be able to handle it without getting too upset. This is what my mind tells me, even if I see small flaws in that logic.
"You just have to realize that we were working on this first." Well, that makes sense. But then I don't know what happened; I guess for some reason I saw something wrong with that, or I got confused somehow, even though I knew it was a simple and non-confrontational truth. I don't always understand my own mind, but for some reason this time it wouldn't let me keep quiet. About my doubts, I guess.
"You've told me that I'm important, that my thoughts have value, but this doesn't line up with that," I said at some point in the conversation. Stupid. Like I said, my mind doesn't seem to feel any pressure about having to make sense.
That's when it rained down hard. "Realize that you aren't the only thing going on in our lives. You are important, but just because you have problems doesn't mean that yours are more important than everyone else's, or that we're going to drop ours to help you. You need to have enough sensitivity and caring about others to let them deal with their own things and not try to make it all about you." That isn't word-for-word, but by memory it's pretty close.
And every sentence, every new point was like...it was like standing facing an onslaught, and these nails were coming at me, at my torso and chest and face and they were being driven in and making me wince with every new things that was said. I shy away from the image of what my face must have looked like while I was listening. In that moment I became a wounded cowering thing, just waiting for it all to be over so I could crawl away and nurse my wounds as well as I could, waiting and wishing so hard for it to stop. Wishing I was stronger than this.
Then it was over, it was blessedly silent and I was struggling to breathe. And there was that voice in my head, the one there to beat me down at every chance; it had started screaming the moment his comments had given it some power to stand behind. He's right, you know. You're not worth it, you KNOW better, you should have known not to bring up your problems like that. If you had any sort of caring for these people, you would have left them alone to find their own happiness and enjoy each other's company without you screwing it up. Now he's mad at you and he should be. You're worthless.
Ugh, being attacked in my own head, how do I make it stop? All the reassurances I get now usually help, but last night they were temporarily torn down, leaving me defenseless in the face of that raw negative energy, eating away at the core of me.
And then someone else, wanting to know what's wrong, calling me until I answered. I thought "maybe this will make things better, maybe he can help me feel a little better and we can talk through things a bit or something". But that conversation? Had him telling me how angry I made him, how much he hates it when I say bad things about myself, how stupid and beneath me it is. Saying I'm really better than this, that it made him sick and he never wanted me to tell him these things again.
This was costing me so much. I was on the edge, two seconds away from hanging up the phone, desperate for silence because reaching out was just getting my hand slapped over and over. But I know him, and I knew that if I were to hang up on him, he would write me off and most likely never speak to me again, just say "I am done with this forever". When it gets to serious subjects, he can have a bit of a temper if he thinks he isn't being taken seriously, and even though I was having the opposite problem of that, he would have interpreted that way and I would have lost that friendship permanently. He doesn't know it, but those tendrils of wanting his friendship were the only thing, that absolute last thing keeping me from leaving the conversation and just trying to recover without him taking stabs at me that he probably didn't even realize were hitting so hard.
Try to breathe, just keep trying to breathe. I didn't know how to handle this anymore except to endure it. His words still coming through the receiver to my ear, to my brain and then I was crying, and he never even knew that I cried. I'm not allowed to tell him how I feel about this. I'm not allowed to say it when I'm dealing with that negative inner voice because he hates it so much, and me having problems dealing with it makes me weak, and it's something he says that I am above, when really it's only something I should be above.
After that I was able to continue in a different conversation, to steer it away when he was finally done ranting after several minutes and talk about something a little more neutral, getting a piece of my sanity back. Then when I was mid-sentence he suddenly had to go, said he would talk to me later, and left the story I was telling unfinished and hanging in the air above my head where he had cut it away from himself with the last hanging-up click of the phone.
All I'm saying is, I was feeling a little overwhelmed.
And I know, at least I'm almost positive that they thought they were helping, that this is the kind of tough love that is going to be beneficial to me once I get over being upset and realize that they were right. And although they are usually the best thing possible for me, usually know exactly what to do to help me in my personal growth, this time they were actually wrong. I know what tough love looks like, and it has been used to help me before. I can recognize it while it's being used on me almost every time, I can see the truth in things. But what was being said to me last night only powerfully awoke that voice, and hurt me in a very deep way that neither of them know.
So I come here to write it, to give it words. It's something that I feel compelled to do and it helps me. No need for a reason.
It's something I'm glad I can do.