“You have things you need to work on, too.”
This was said to be in the midst of a discussion about something I felt hurt by. First, let me state that I am proud of myself for having the discussion and staying in it until the resolution. Because you see I don’t normally do that and that’s growth. Second, let me say I’m proud of the other person for sticking with it too and seeing it to then and for making it feel safe and good.
You see I’ve never been comfortable with criticism, especially when it’s about me but even when it’s about someone else. I have worked so hard my whole life to hide my faults that I don’t like when you notice them and I like even less when you point them out. I naturally get defensive but if it starts feeling confrontational I retreat. I apologize for things I’m not sorry for or exit stage left at first opportunity just to diffuse and stop the confrontation. I never met constructive criticism because it always felt harsh and scary and mean, even when that’s not how it’s meant. It always felt like being attacked.
Until two weeks ago when I realized I valued this friendship enough to stick with it and talk about it. It was hard at first but we both stuck in. I accepted my responsibility for the situation and she did the same. And we did what my therapist gets me to do…figure out the alternate explanations for what could actually have occurred. You know…my truth, your truth and the real truth deal. Because ya, there was fault on both sides, and yes, thankfully it’s all so fixable.
And when we finished with that situation and dove headfirst into what I could improve upon and where she felt hurt in another situation, it felt safe. And when I heard “this is where you need to work” I heard it as let me help you along this journey because I love you and I want you in my life instead of the usual you’re screwing up again and I’d like to rub your nose in it. It came from a place of love. And because we do mutually love and respect each other and value this friendship to its core, I left the discussion so glad that it had been had.
And as I played it over a few times (because I’m an obsessor…it’s what I do) I came away every time feeling good about the discussion. I told my therapist yesterday that this must be what real grown up friendship should have always been. What I didn’t say but realized is that I should probably apologize to my best friend of 42 years for never allowing these types of discussions before without defensiveness.
The thing that changed is me. I’m learning to own my space. I know there’s things I need to change and I am working on them more every day. Admitting the problem was huge for me. Actually getting help and seeing a therapist had been even more huge. To think of the years I ran from and got angry at the idea of seeing one makes me sad. It makes me want to be honest with this journey because y’all, life is hard. And sometimes we need guidance. And sometimes that comes in professional help. And ALWAYS that’s nothing to be ashamed about. When I first picked up medication I felt ashamed. I felt like I picked up failure at the pharmacy. (In fact you’ll find that phrase in my journal) but now I embrace it as something that has helped me. I hope to not need it for long, but for now I accept all the help on this journey that I can find.
My people are so important to that. By learning to love and understand myself, I hope I will be better able to accept their love and teach them how to best love me. It’s an interesting place. They make me feel loved and accepted when I don’t love or accept myself. And when the dark days come I want to run because I don’t feel deserving of their love. I haven’t earned it.
There’s a question that was posed on the That Sounds Fun podcast episode on Enneagram 2. (If you didn’t know yet, I run hardcore in the two lane). It’s a question that I’m currently wrestling with. It’s a question that we discuss in therapy regularly. It’s at the core of a lot of my troubles sometimes.
If you don’t need me…if you reject my help…if I’m not in a position to help you (I’ve been there a lot lately), then where is my value to you?
I don’t have an answer right this second. I think I’m going to sit down with my journal and puzzle this out. I think figuring out the answer may hold the key to moving to the healthier side of the enneagram 2.
If you love me well in real life, help me figure this out. (I’m looking to you, my people, and actually asking for help.). Who am I to you when I’m not doing anything for you? Help me find value and a place in your life when you don’t need anything from me. Help me to learn to serve out of love and not obligation and a desire to find value there. Reinforce that unconditional love that I don’t understand. Because if I find that understanding, I think I might understand God’s love for me better. Help me learn to value helping myself. I’ve come a ways in that but positive reinforcement will help so much.
I say that because someone asked me how they could help me. Right now that’s it. That’s what I need to figure out. Who I am when no one needs me to be anything. How I exist in a space without looking for needs and trying to meet them all. How I admit needs and let other people meet them for me. Feel free to send me a message on a social media platform or an email. Or hey, just say come get coffee and let me help you with this process. I’m open to discussions and even criticisms right now because I’m trying to learn about myself so I can be a healthy version of myself.
God has blessed me with amazing resources and friends. I’ve started to see and appreciate growth in myself. I want to continue to figure out how to be the person I can be proud of and the person living how God wants me to live. The last few months have been so hard. Depression, anxiety, none of it is easy. Realizing you don’t have it together and you need help is brutal. But putting away the pride and getting that help is liberating. And finding pride in your ability to take that help and run with it…that’s the secret to happiness for now. The little victories. The little joys. It’s all about the journey.