Tuesday, December 8, 2015

#341: Being Powerless

Today I was disappointed by someone. I had expectations that didn't get met and I was very hurt and angry. And I had done everything "right". I had reminded, I had texted, I had prayed, I had dropped hints, given gifts and been kind. I kept waiting and waiting, but my friend didn't "come through" for me.

I finally called another friend to talk me down from the cliff of anger and anxiety I had climbed. Our conversation went like this:

Me: I can hear myself thinking "if he really cared about me he would have..." and I suspect that's not correct thinking but I'm not sure why.
Friend: When I say that, it's about control. I think I can make someone do something. 
Me: You mean I have no control over whether he does this or not?
Friend: Nope.
Me: I have no control over whether he even calls or says hello or even enjoys my company? None? Nothing I do can make him think, feel or do anything?
Friend: No. And when I figured this out, the sense of relief was astonishing. No more worry, fretting or trying to figure out the right thing to do.

Suddenly I knew why I was so mad. I'm powerless. Absolutely powerless over whether or not my friend follows through. Or does anything, actually. I'm powerless over what anyone does. But I didn't really get that before tonight.

Most of my life has been run on the assumption that people only wanted to be around me is because of something I did; maybe I gave them presents or I was cute or I was funny or I said the right thing or I was available when they wanted to go do something. This has been especially true with men—I thought that men would only want to be with me because I did or said the right thing at the right time. Or reminded them at regular intervals that I am still here. Whatever the details, I've thought that something I was doing was the reason anybody wanted, or remembered, to have me in their life.

Tonight, then, I was so angry because I was facing head on my own powerlessness over my friend that I thought failed me, over the men in the past, over everyone. 

It was a devastating yet freeing blow. No control means I can stop trying so hard to get people to remember me. This frees up lots and lots of mental and emotional space that has previously been devoted to trying to manage and interpret other people's reactions to me. Devastating because no control means there is the real possibility that people may not actually want to be around me if I stop trying to manipulate.

But for tonight, I'm going with the freedom idea!

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