Early on I learned to build a bubble around me and not let anyone too close. I thought people couldn’t see it and if I continued to be a good person and help others, I would be safe. But certain painful experiences have shown me what I was truly protecting myself from.
It is very difficult to have a good relationship with people that take everything personally. It makes it hard because you have to tip toe around them constantly, measuring the words you say so they are not offended by something you might have said inadvertently and they took it as direct offense. When people take things personally like that, it makes me wonder what they think of themselves, do they feel good enough? do they think the world is out to get them and have to constantly defend themselves from the attacks of others? I want to shout out, love yourself for goodness’ sake! Of course, then I think, why am I taking this personally? why is this bothering me so much? Why do I even need to talk about this? Yes, thank you, this is my lesson.
Don’t get me wrong, I think we all need to vent and get our feelings out. This could easily turn into gossip if we are not careful, into a pity party looking for others to side with us and reassure us that we are still good people and we did nothing wrong. They are the ones that made the mistake and judged us! we did nothing wrong, right? Wrong. When we look close at our own co-dependence and insecurities, we are the ones who might have made the mistake.
Sometimes we make the mistake to try to save others, to help them or make them feel better, but in reality we are just trying to act selfishly in order to gain their appreciation and value. We try to be a good friend so they appreciate us, looking for approval and acceptance, but still feeling insecure and trying to buy admiration and love by doing things that didn’t ask us to do -out of the goodness of our hearts.
When others confront us, our first instinct is to close the doors and to wish to move somewhere far where we don’t have to deal with this kind of drama, but that only creates distance and isolation and solves nothing. Sure, start fresh, go somewhere else where people don’t know you and could just leave you alone, but this problem will follow us because it is not other people’s problems, it is our own. Venting, writing it down, letting it cool down and let it go is a better strategy; we shouldn’t run away or hold on to things for long or we’ll live in misery for the rest of our lives.
In the bible it says that it’s easier to look at the speck of sawdust in another person’s eye than to see the log in our own. This is what it is all about. We could get mad about what another person did to us, but the real work is within us. Can we let it go? Is it about letting it go? What do we need to learn about this? How can we keep a relationship healthy while we both grow and learn?
Here we go again, thinking that others have to “grow” and “learn” too. We don’t need to be worrying about anybody that is not asking for our help. We need to work on ourselves. There seems to be an underlying need for control, making sure that everyone is happy, that things are taken care of, and that everyone is getting along, and for some reason, we are responsible for it. When did we sign up for that? Why is it our job to make others happy?
Whenever others get mad at me, I remember my psychologist supervisor who shared his own experience with his fiancee and how she appeared to take things personally, but all she did was call on his misalignment, when he wasn’t being truthful about what he wanted or feeling at the moment for whatever reason. He was able to recognize that in himself and make proper adjustments. I want to be like him. I have ways to go though.
Being completely honest with people is scary because not everyone is going to like what you have to say and most people avoid confrontations. I am one of them. It is hard for me to let people know how I truly feel and I tend to tolerate many things, making me passive aggressive and avoidant, which is exactly what bothers me about other people .
The truth is, this is about being honest and facing rejection, not looking for perfection. The fear of rejection is so deeply ingrained in us that it can mask itself as many things, like righteousness, being concerned, perfectionism, or avoidance, but it hurts people and creates mistrust. I have tiptoed around people so much that I have created a bubble around me that others can see but none can penetrate. It is tiring trying to keep it up.
I used to be very straight forward before I moved to the States, but then I kept inadvertently offending people and it made me wary of ever being truly honest again. If someone is open to receive feedback and asks directly, then I can tell them carefully what I see, but if they don’t, I tend not to say a word or decide to help without being asked and get the same ugly results. I’ve masked the pain of rejection with “they have their own path” and my bubble got bigger.
People would say I was enigmatic, like I was hiding something, and the truth is, I was, I didn’t let people in because I wanted to be perfect and not let people see my mistakes. Thanks Dad! Making mistakes meant to me rejection and a blow in the face. I was so afraid of imperfections that I hid some parts of who I am because I didn’t believe I had the perfect life regardless of how good it was. My life will never be perfect, I know that now.
When I was young, my dad would resort to using harsh ways to make corrections to my mistakes. I learned to save myself by either hiding, or pretending to be perfect. Perfect grades, perfect behavior around him, perfect obedience, or hide by going to sleep extremely early or behind jokes and laughter. When I made others smile, I felt accepted. It was a hard task with my dad though. No matter what kind of clowny acts I performed, he saw my fears and insecurities and pointed them out, which made me feel inadequate and not enough to deserve his love and appreciation. I didn’t want his full attention, I just wanted to be enough for him, enough to deserve love or an encouraging word, enough to deserve appreciation for who I was and the things I did. I kept hurting because I kept looking for this appreciation outside of me.
I’ve always hated people being mad at me. I wanted everyone to think that I was great, beautiful, smart and had the best personality. I was truly afraid that people would see the entirety of me and realize that I was not good enough. I was afraid of falling in love with someone and not be good enough for them. I wanted to be perfect and whenever I’d realized it was impossible, I would go into fear, jealousy and insecurities and all of the emotions I didn’t want. I liked myself and I thought I was pretty awesome, but it was that last bit of imperfection, the part I couldn’t achieve no matter how high I reached, that kept me in a bind.
Most of the time I can shake these insecurities, but sometimes they take over. I sometimes want to be so perfect -I know I am not- that I get paralyzed and do nothing. On the other hand I know I can’t achieve perfection and when I feel loved and accepted with my faults and mistakes, I get insecure and I go into fear and mistrust. Either way I lose.
I love myself and I like who I am but I still have the remnants of “I’m still not perfect” that kill me. I can’t keep blaming my dad for it. It kills me because when I want something really bad and I’m not allowed to have it, I blame myself for not doing or being perfect to deserve it. Then, I push people away because I don’t want to be reminded of what and why I can’t have what I want and I force myself to keep working on being perfect so I can finally deserve it, a never-ending cycle.
I want to be more honest with people, not try to save others or gain their appreciation for me. I will never be perfect and I need to stop trying. People will be disappointed in me, that’s inevitable. I want to love my imperfections and not try to hide them. As I’m writing this, it doesn’t matter anymore if other people get mad at me or not. That is their work and I still have mine to do. It doesn’t take away from how much I appreciate other’s friendship, it just teaches me to love myself and take care of my own feelings.
Even now these thoughts that are jumping at me; share this in a way people won’t think you have problems; write it in 3rd person; don’t publish it; don’t let people see your imperfections, if people ever liked this article they won’t like the others; this blog is not perfect yet, not enough; re-read it one more time and fix your mistakes, and so on. I’m sure I’m not alone when it comes to thoughts that negate our value and make us feel small. What I want to do is become aware of them every moment, challenge and change them as soon as I see them because I don’t want to live inside this bubble any more and I want to free myself.