General chatter - I've id'd a big emotional issue - any ideas to help me deal?

07-03-2009, 10:13 AM
This got horrendously long ~ sorry!

I've always felt uncomfortable, to the point of nauseous, if I make anyone cross.

If I make anyone cross that matters to me deeply, there are not that many of them, then I am wrecked, totally, totally wrecked.

I've never much thought about why before, just tried to avoid it. Of course, that has given rise to all kinds of internal conflicts. Not that I try to annoy people, of course, but I have very rarely if ever put my needs before another's, and if I've felt that they should have regarded mine before theirs but not done so, on most occasions I've just swallowed it down. Not thought about why, particularly.

So I had that telephone fall out on Sunday with one of my closest friends. Completely from nowhere he started yelling and repeating the phrase he wanted me to agree with over and over again, completely running over the top of whatever I said. It's not the first time recently, and it felt like being held down and punched verbally, so I walked away from the call. He was exceptionally p.d off. I assume he still is, haven't heard.

Sunday night I barely slept.

Monday I could think of little else. I was distraught. I was convinced he would call off our friendship, call off our next trip in September, cut me off totally.

Tuesday eveing I rang him. Now, there is a reason why he's under huge stress and pressure at the minute, I can't give away his secrets, just please believe me I'm not trying to excuse him. I'd have gone off my head in his shoes. At the same time, telling me he's Not stressed by it all but adopting over recent weeks some seriously bullying behaviours towards me is not an option.

So I told him that [those who could have done sthg about the stress/still could if he'd go see them] were treating him disgracefully; asked if he'd made an appt to see them yet; assured him of my unqualified support and sympathy in the situation; told him how his behaviour had made me feel on Sunday (careful to say it was the behaviour that had made me upset, not that I didn't like/care about him) and that I'd had to protect myself from that treatment by walking away from it; that there was no point me saying I was sympathetic without offering practical help, and suggesting a number of pieces of work I could help out with to give him some respite.
He said he would ring back after his evening appointment. He hasn't.

I didn't sleep most of Tuesday night, again convinced it was The End.

By Thursday, having reviewed what I'd said on Tuesday, I decided I'd done the right thing: said what had annoyed me, offered my support both emotional and practical. There is no reason why it should all be At An End, and I've no reason to think it is. I assume he's embarrassed/busy/stressed/being a man and just hoping that if he doesn't deal with it it will go away. That's OK, I get it.

What I don't get is me. What is it in me that is so utterly, totally, crushingly devastated by my daring to stand up to someone, state an opinion, disagree? I assume it's something in my early upbringing on the lines of, if you do that I won't love you any more. Poor parents, I know mine meant nothing but good but they haven't half screwed me up! but it was accidental. It has been described by a counsellor in the dim and distant past as emotional abuse and I see that: but it was not intentional and I need to move on.

Any ideas how I do? I don't see counselling as an option, can't imagine convincing a National Health Service GP that I need one. Can anyone recommend any self-help books or strategies?

Finally, after 54 years, I've discovered that I'm so self-deprecatory, so passive before the face of someone stronger because I'm afraid that if I do otherwise they, basically, won't love me any more. That's unlikely to be true but how do I convince my heart?/inner child?

Thanks for reading.

07-03-2009, 10:33 AM
As someone who grew up with serious self-esteem issues, and who spent many years in an emotionally abusive marriage, I can certainly empathize.

Something that helped me a lot, particularly when having to deal with people I felt were trying to take advantage of me, was to tell myself over and over, I, too, am a child of the universe. I am worthy of being loved. Even today, many years later, whenever I tell myself I, too, am a child of the universe my heart rate will slow and I feel myself becoming more centered.

Hang in there, my dear. Sending good thoughts your way.

Donna D., Hemet, CA

07-03-2009, 10:51 AM
You have actually made several steps in the right direction. Asking for support/ideas here is a great step.

While I don't have the magic elixir to make things better for you, I can offer words of sympathy and empathy.

First, you CANNOT please all of the people all of the time. It isn't possible. Even if you totally forsake yourself (which is not a good idea).

Second, to be happy, you MUST be happy with yourself. And, that includes happy with your behaviors. They must be consistent with who you are - your core values.

Thirdly, you do not need others to be happy. Your happiness should not depend on your relationships with others. While having other folk in your life is a blessing, it can't define who you are.

Fourth, friends will come and go. TRUE friends will stay, regardless of what you say to them. You must be honest with true friends, to do otherwise would diminish the friendship. Honesty includes expressing your thougths and opinions ESPECIALLY when they differ from those of your friend.

Fifth, Only true friends matter. Those others, WILL come and WILL go, and you can't change that. AND - hear me here - you shouldn't try. If they cannot accept you for who you are, they are not worthy of your time and attention. They are surely not worthy of any emotional grief that you are feeling.

Sixth, in summary - love yourself, first. From that, all other relationships will fall into place.

How do you do that? Lots of ways. Books can help. True friends can help. The folk here at 3FC can help. But, ultimately - it needs to come from inside you. You have to believe that you are worth it. Self talk helps me. I actually talk to myself in the mirror some times. I have a few true friends that help set me straight when I get into unhealthy places, mentally. Some folk use a journal to help them. Some use prayer and meditation.

Whatever path you choose, keep at it. You are a wonderful, unique person. Embrace who you are, and don't compromise that - for anyone.

:hug: You are in my thoughts and prayers.

07-03-2009, 11:44 AM

For what it's worth, I think that your feelings are shared by many (dare I say the majority of) women worldwide. Many of us were raised to be the polite caretakers who were expected to put the needs of others before our own. I know in my own dysfunctional upbringing, the male was the dominant figure in the family and it was modeled by my mother that we just keep Dad happy at all costs. Don't rock the boat. Sweep it under the carpet. This has had lifelong, damaging effects to my psyche, that I struggle with each and every day of my life.

I LOVE CountingDown's advise. I can just feel the warmth, understanding and companionship in her and this community. I am new to 3FC's and I know that I am already so grateful that I found it.

I pray that you find the inner peace to believe in what YOUR soul needs. You are the only person in this world that you have control over. Gaining control and acceptance over what you think, feel and believe will ripple into all of your relationships. When you feel weak and alone in this world, I pray that you can find comfort in yourself, your Higher Power, and your friends here at the 3FC community. We are all here for the same reasons. That's the best family I can envision!

Good luck and stay in touch!

07-03-2009, 11:51 AM
I thought your post sounded so sweet, and I really related to it. I moved from California to NYC in my early twenties, which was like moving from "laid back, overly friendly" to "in your face aggressive." quite an adjustment for me, a woman who had a seriously tough time standing up to bad behavior in others or handling anger. I can't say I'm perfect now, but I'm better able to speak up in the moment. For me, it took practice. I consciously had to think about how I was responding to situations and people, and change my behavior. It was tough and a little scary, and I went overboard on occasion. Think about specifics in your past and how you wished you responded.

I do agree with you that you handled your phone conversation with your friend in the right way.

it's such a relief to just say what you need to say in a reasonable way, and to get appropriately angry in the right moments, and to take care of yourself. that makes it much easier to let go of all the angst when a run in does happen.

my guess is that you friend will cool down and chill out and over a little time the kinks will resolve themselves. I mean, you have a right to be miffed too. just as it's a privilege and gift that he's your friend, it's his privilege and gift that you're his friend.

07-03-2009, 12:39 PM
I, too, can become really upset if I make someone who matters to me upset. I used to beat myself up horribly about it; I would tell myself internally that I'm a bad person, an ugly person--oh, I was meaner to myself than anyone else ever was (and I grew up in an accidently emotinally abusive situation, too).

Then one day as I was being so cruel to myself as I was driving down the road, crying, I felt a calm, firm, kind voice inside my head say, "Stop. That's enough." I'm not a religious person and I don't go to church. I'm not even sure I believe in God most of the time, but it was something good in the universe that spoke to me.

You are a child of the universe. We all are. My needs are not always more important than yours, but neither are yours always more important than mine. It's a give and take world, and you have as much right to receive emotional support and to have your needs known as anyone else.

Counting Down is right--friendships don't always last. I'm guessing that's not something you want to hear right now and I'm sorry. :( Some friendships are for a lifetime. Some are for a short time, and some are for a season. It's quite possible that you have changed quite a bit on this journey and maybe now the season of this friendship is coming to an end. And you know, if that's true--it's not always a bad thing. It can be painful while it's happening, but it can also be making room for a different type of friendship to enter your life.

I don't know if any of this is helpful or if it will just sound like platitudes to you. Hopefully it's a little helpful.

07-03-2009, 01:37 PM
Ailidh sorry to hear about your confrontation with your friend. Hopefully, after he calms down, he will feel bad about the fight and call you. I have trouble beig assertive. Maybe, you could take an assertiveness class. There is a book called How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I have been wanting to read it but haven't yet. I think Dale Carnegie has some sort of course people can take. I forgot what it's called. But my Brother in law took the course. When I find out I could let you know.
Hope your friend has called by now and you feel better. You can check at the library about self help books.

07-04-2009, 07:20 AM
Thank you very much for the replies, they are very helpful and I am still pondering them.

As regards the present relationship: well yes, it might be ending; or it might not. At the minute I can't really assess it until I sort out my fear of assertiveness issues in my own head. I think one issues is that he has self esteem issues that manifest in dominant behaviour that sometimes falls over into bullying (strictly verbal); I have self esteem issues that manifest in submissive behavour. Now, if that were all it could be a friendship made in heaven! but I'm not a happy sub., not all the time anyway, and that's where the flashpoints are with this guy.

I need to work at my issues regardless of him.

Oh, and while thinking it over last night I um joined an online dating agency. As you do. Haven't put my total ad. together yet but I will be completely honest and not pretend I want more or am other than the truth. Talking to one really nice guy who's a passionate linguist, like me!

07-04-2009, 11:00 AM
Oh, and while thinking it over last night I um joined an online dating agency. As you do. Haven't put my total ad. together yet but I will be completely honest and not pretend I want more or am other than the truth. Talking to one really nice guy who's a passionate linguist, like me!

that's awesome! good luck and keep us updated on everything.

07-04-2009, 11:55 AM
Here is some food for thought:


Abusive men are often very charismatic, living in virtual denial, quick to blame and manipulate others into thinking and believing they are Mr. Wonderful. These manipulative tendencies often create doubt in a women’s mind over a period of time as to whether she herself is at fault for the abuse, where she then begins to try and make changes in herself in hopes it will end.

And from about enabling the situation:

Do you find yourself worrying about a person in ways that consume your time, or do you find yourself trying to come up with solutions to his/ her problems rather than letting that person do the solving?

Do you ever excuse this person’s behavior as being a result of “stress, misunderstanding, or difficulty coping,” even when the behavior hurts or inconveniences you?

There is lots more on the site above, that might be useful for you...

I think self-reflection is important, and there are lots of books out there that can help you deal with the issues you face, which seem to be learned behaviours as a result of your upbringing (not intentional on your parent's part, but still there!) -- do some research and find some workbooks on self-esteem, assertiveness, and on how to change your thought patterns, as they may be helpful...



07-04-2009, 01:19 PM
Completely from nowhere he started yelling and repeating the phrase he wanted me to agree with over and over again, completely running over the top of whatever I said. It's not the first time recently, and it felt like being held down and punched verbally

I'd just like to say, that's because you were. Period.

07-04-2009, 07:39 PM
so I'm enjoying the online dating site. I put my pic up tonight (the new, booby one!) and a couple of guys have said how much they like it. that's nice. the one I got talking to yesterday seems impressed, and another guy has emailed on the strength of it. his profile says he's looking for a petite lady, so I've emailed back to tell him that heightwise, I'm petite, weightwise I consider myself average but a work in progress from higher to lower. don't want anyone to misinterpret!

so far, this is gentle fun!

07-05-2009, 03:18 PM
you go, girl! I can see your inner flirt emerging and enjoying herself!

07-05-2009, 03:27 PM
Enjoy! Be careful and safe, but enjoy!

You deserve it :)