Update to previous post:

 

I received a Facebook notification that 3 members of the group I left, wished to message me.

I approved 2 of the notifications – One was from the person I saw bullied just prior to raising my concerns within the group. Their private message said thank you for the support, and mentioned that there is much discussion about what I said within the group now. I hope this person is treated with respect by group members in future.

As for the discussion going on within the group now – I can imagine it. There will be vigorous debate over all sorts of minutiae (‘how do we define ‘respect’?’) and in the end none of the real issues will be addressed. It shouldn’t be that difficult to be decent to each other. No debate required.

The second person I returned a message to was another ‘outsider’ who I recently shared a pleasant and interesting bit of conversation¬†with. She said sorry things didn’t work out for me in the group, and asked about the topic we’d previously discussed.

So that’s all good.

The 3rd message request is from a man who is close with the main bully of the group, and he supported her right to bully members. I have not approved his message request and am not sure if I will. Either way, I’m conscious that:

1) It would be delusional to think that he would suddenly begin valuing my perspective.

2) Any energy I expend communicating with this man, is energy thrown into the abyss. Squandered.

3) Though I hold myself to such high standards, I don’t owe this man anything. I can choose not to respond to him and that’s ok.

If I do respond to him, it’s going to be a respectful but very short message. It’s a form of gaslighting, to draw people out and say you are interested in their perspective – when all you intend to do is get into a battle over the matter and ‘win’ by attrition. I’ve recognised this as a fairly common practise online these days. It serves to weaken those with a differing perspective. The aim is to weaken the person deemed to be a threat, and ultimately silence them.

I see the game, and I don’t play it anymore.

 

Today I celebrate how my horizons are not closing down, but in fact opening up as I learn to walk away from people, groups, and situations that are not a good ‘fit’. It has become apparent that I’ve spent my whole life until now trying to have other people see my worth. But I have been worthy all along. The ones who couldn’t see that just weren’t my kind of people. I was searching in all the wrong places. In fact- show me a wrong place, and I’d be in there in a shot!

 

I worry about things like confirmation bias, and whether I could end up avoiding other perspectives… but you know what? I’m just going to give myself a break for a while. It’s about time I felt connection with others. I deserve that. We all do.

 

Best wishes everybody xxx

 

Edit: WordPress just notified me that this is my 100th blog post here. This is the longest stretch I’ve ever retained a blog, and I think perhaps this one has stuck because I’m finding my true self and my voice here. It’s been such a great space to unpack my brain and work things through. ūüôā Xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pattern of going where I’m not wanted

The pattern of going where I’m not wanted has been one of the most difficult for me to come to terms with. The conditioning is strong on this one – growing¬†up in a family that did not like nor want me really messed up my perception of relationships. I spent 3 decades or so trying to befriend family members who had placed me in a role that represented everything they hated. That formed my fundamental impression of relationships.

As a kid, my mother took me to buy gifts for ‘friends’ who invited all the kids in class to their birthday parties – except for me. I distinctly remember in one case dropping off the gift to my ‘friend’s’ letterbox and hearing the joyful squealing and hollering of my classmates inside the house. That was the first time – I was 7.

For starters; what the hell kind of mother teaches their child to be a miserable doormat like that? Oh yeah, mine. I’ve had enough nous, as a parent, to teach A to move on when people show her they are not interested in a friendship (or show themselves to be unsuitable friends, or not even friends at all…) but it has taken me until now to properly grasp those concepts in my own life.

Without fully realising, I have been making steps. An old friend emailed me a while back, out of the blue. Our entire relationship consisted of her picking me up and using me as an ego boost when her real friends did not pay her enough attention – and dropping me the (literal) moment they made contact again. For the first time ever, I¬†didn’t respond to her. I believe she even wrote in the message some line about how she doesn’t treat her friends very well and omg it’s been SO long since we talked…

It felt good to see that relationship for what it was. I’d felt sick about it many times over the years. That day I woke up to reality and was free.

A couple of days ago I saw something that didn’t sit well with me, in a Facebook group. The group belongs to an organisation I joined when I was 19 years old in a bid to make some friendships. Conversations within the Facebook group had become more and more combative. I witnessed what I perceive to be bullying.

I checked for the group’s code of conduct but could not find one – so asked about it. Responses were immediately defensive. There was no code of conduct, and the loudest, most opinionated (most popular) members of the group made it clear that they did not want a code of conduct. It would stifle diversity they said – plus we are all adults (I believe some children are in the group though), and ‘nobody here gets offended’, so why would the group require any guidelines?

As their comments racked up ‘likes’ from other members of the group, I took time to think and wrote a response:

 

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My message was met with silence. ‘Likes’ continued to accumulate on the other comments.

I started to wonder what kind of motives a person might have for not wanting an expectation of respectful communication between group members. It became clear that my perspective was neither welcome nor valued within the group. So I left. I left the Facebook group, and I am leaving this organisation that I joined 17 years ago in an attempt to find and build friendships. Friendships did not eventuate Рbecause I never fitted in to the group.

I met the criteria for entrance, sure – just¬†like I met the criteria of ‘family member’, but never fitted in the entire time I tried being a part of my family of origin.¬†

I’ve learned that it can take more than a match of one particular criterion to find a place where I belong. In fact, it probably takes a lot more than that for me to fit in anywhere. And that’s OK.

 

Thankfully, a short while back I joined a group of women on Facebook. It’s a space for ‘all women who identify as women’; I’ve recently become more conscious of the importance of this inclusivity. There is a clear expectation of respectful communication within the group. I feel as though I fit there. This is the first time in my life I’ve felt a fit in any group of people aside from the very small group of my husband D,¬†our teenager A, and me. Being a part of this community of journeying, open hearted and brave women has shown me that I’m not doomed to a life of isolation.

One of my concerns is that my lifelong lack of friendships might mean I let these women down. There are two other friends in my life now and I feel the same fears there too. I often feel unsure of how to respond and usually take a long time to do so – paralysed by the echoes of my mother mocking me, and the ever-present feeling that I’m going to say the wrong thing and be shunned. Mother used to tell me all the reasons why¬†I couldn’t have friends (namely: showing my true self and mistakenly expecting who I am to be acceptable in the eyes of others). When I was 19/20 she made it clear she wanted me to move out of the house… but when I returned home from flatmate interviews she would sit back and sneeringly comment that ‘nobody would ever want to live with you anyway’. I was so anxious during those interviews.

Even in my 30’s, prior to ceasing all contact with my mother, she continued to give me friendship advice – telling me what I should and should not say to people, and finally recommending that I be like her and only have acquaintances, not friends. Life is easier that way she said.

I cannot express in words how painful that all is. The complete undermining of my sense of worth, by my own mother.

But for now I continue to breathe through my fear, move slow, and take little little steps. I will no longer go where I am not welcome. That’s best for everybody. And the places where I am welcome… well I’ll take along my true self, trembling heart, and aim to have compassion for myself and others. That’s all I can do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently

I have suffered a lot, lately. The dysautonomia has worsened again. The best way I can describe my experience of a haywire autonomic nervous system is that it feels like there is another body directly under my skin, and it screams and retches and squirms the whole time. It wants nothing more than to burst through my skin and run outside and in front of a truck.

So a living hell, basically. And I’m not exaggerating. I’ve been getting through hour by hour; or during my worst times, minute by minute. I keep suffocating in my sleep and the sensations of nervous system dysfunction follow me even there.

That said, there have been a couple of positive developments:

I became more conscious of the damaging part that parrots at me ignorant opinions received from certain doctors over the years. This part was sensed as a very young part, down the bottom of a well. Scared. Diffident in the face of authority — especially male authority.

Makes sense, right. But the other day when I was home alone & really feeling sick – an older, wiser, female presence came to me and calmly stated everything I know to be true (but have repressed/denied). She laid out the facts of my illness, based on lived experience – not the imperious conjecture of some doctors I’ve encountered – and described my recovery plan in a really straight-forward and confident way. I really needed that.

Since then, the girl down the well has been silent. I like to think she ‘grew up’ into the wise woman I met the other day… and of course, I understand these are all aspects of my own psyche we’re dealing with here. So maybe I’m growing up. It had to happen sometime, right.

This evening my mother-in-law phoned. I was able to talk with her for a little while. Things have been going better between us – better between everybody on my husband’s side of the family, actually. For this I am grateful. Anyway, we were discussing a family matter and I found myself expressing how ceasing contact with my mother had been so healing (not just for me, but also for the people who had to put up with my crap when I was not doing well emotionally) and it was only once I got off the phone that my mother-in-laws tight lipped ‘Mmmm-hmmmm’ response to what I said, fully registered.

Ah. So she doesn’t approve. Not surprising though, considering D has ceased contact with her for a couple of relatively short periods in the past. But the beautiful thing was when¬†I realised that in no way was I seeking her approval of my choices when I talked about ceasing contact with my mother. In the past I would have been painfully and acutely aware of my mother-in-law’s disapproval in the moment. The shame cascade would have covered me head to toe… (damn that shame cascade!!)

It was a beautiful thing to register that disapproval, feel zero shame about it, consciously let my mother-in-law own her ‘stuff’, whilst claiming my own.

You know, I could go into details with her one day. I have fantastic justifications for cutting my mother from my life; and how things have improved in my life since, is vindication in and of itself. But why bother? I don’t need to spill blood in front of people to prove my worth any more. I cut my mother from my life. It was one of the best decisions I ever made, for me. I get to define what’s best for me. My perception matters. It has validity.

 

So there’s the update. My physical health certainly sucks right now, but isn’t it an amazing thing that I can be healing in other ways whilst my body suffers. In fact this really pleases the ‘do-er’ in me. Probably a bit too much ūüėČ I’ve got my eye on her.

 

Xx