I really feel like I am my worst enemy sometimes. My years in college allowed me not only to grow into the adult I wanted to be, but my studies actually taught me a lot about myself. Studying the human mind and its processes (and being a slight hypochondriac) leads a lot of people to the awareness of some mental struggles they may have never known they had. While it is easy to portray a perfect life on the internet, I'm here to tell you mine is far from that. I've been thinking of doing this for a long time now, and I think I'm finally going to bite the bullet.
There is nothing shameful about mental illness.
If I were to "play therapist," I would absolutely call myself co-dependent. While I don't feel that I fit this mold completely, I definitely have several co-dependent habits (mainly in the denial of my own feelings and putting aside my own needs for others) that get in the way of my relationships sometimes. I do not find myself struggling with these characteristics nearly as much in my closest relationships that include my husband, my mother and my best friend.
My biggest struggle is invalidating my own feelings. I often find myself feeling guilty for being hurt or angry at someone and justifying what someone else has done to make me feel that way. "Oh, she's just had a bad day," "He didn't intend to hurt my feelings by saying that," "Well I probably provoked it somehow," "I'm being too hard on her," "He's just going through a lot right now, and he definitely doesn't need me picking a fight," "She's not meaning to blow me off, I'm sure she's preoccupied by something else." Any of these sound familiar to you all? Maybe I'm the only one.
This cycle I put myself through can be really heavy on my heart. Not only do I struggle with hurt feelings, but in turn struggle with thoughts that my feelings are "wrong." Since my feelings are "wrong," I rarely speak up about them (another realm of my co-dependency that maybe I'll address later) and tell someone what they've done has bothered me. When I do speak up about it, I get all kinds of nervous and then end up not making one bit of sense. Of course, since it doesn't make sense when I'm trying to explain it, I'm often validated with my feelings are "wrong."
I'm not perfect. Sometimes I do get angry when I shouldn't, and sometimes I do take things the wrong way. My problem is figuring out the differences of those situations and overcoming the anxiety to actually do something about it. I hate confrontation, I hate arguing, but sometimes I hate feeling guilty for being angry more.
The confrontations I do get involved in often end up nastier than they would originally be, primarily because I've surprised the hell out of someone for actually getting angry. They're used to being rude and inconsiderate without me saying anything, it's hard for them to understand why all of a sudden they aren't getting away with it. It's almost like a parent/child relationship, where a mother would let her child jump up and down on the bed on a regular basis without correction, and suddenly the child finds himself in time-out and grounded for jumping up and down on the bed. Wouldn't you be confused too?
I've made it ok for people to hurt my feelings. I've made it ok for people to pick fights with me on their bad days. I've made it ok for people to take things out on me that are not my fault. I've let people know that once they are done with hurting my feelings, I'll forgive them and everything will be fine without any responsibility being taken. I've made myself the easiest target you can find.
I'm learning that I'm more comfortable making things about other people most of the time, but sometimes, just sometimes, it's about me too. Wanting someone else to consider my feelings or be a thoughtful friend is not selfish or unreasonable. It is not unreasonable to want a relationship that is consistently warm water, instead of extremely hot or cold water. I'd rather turn the faucet off.
Do you ever feel like the things you want out of your relationships are unreasonable?