Lately I am noticing how much I now try to keep peace when people hurt me in my grief. I choose to avoid conflict than to let them know. I write about some issues I face with many people, but not individual hurts. Quietly, I let them dictate how I talk with them and how they treat me. Am I supposed to be happy they have taken a moment from their schedule, on their terms, to make the rare appearance and give me their judgement? It might be terribly inconvenient for me to meet with them, but if I do not meet now, then I am at fault. If I need to see or talk with them, they are busy. When I have confronted it, the hurt never happened and I am imagining it.
The root of my dysfunctional management of relationships might be rooted in my childhood.
Most people have a stable childhood, make friends, and spend time with family. I lived far from extended family in church basements, church classrooms, and in rough places. We never stayed in one place long enough for me to make friends until my senior year, attending three schools my freshman year. Kids bullied me relentlessly because I was always the scrawny new kid who wore old hand-me-downs that did not fit.
I found value in making people happy in order to make friends faster. This is not how a real friendship should occur, but I was young, socially ignorant, and had no time to make lasting friendships. I never knew because I was gone before the dysfunction manifested. My insecurities and self-esteem issues led to me over-compensating and appearing arrogant.
Once I make friends at work, I stay at jobs far longer than I should, which reduces my earning potential. People who were my peers long ago are now leading large companies because they moved when I played it safe to be with people I knew.
My love language is words of affirmation**. There is nothing wrong with wanting appreciation, but it means I am sensitive to words, both positive and negative. Did this need for expression come from my need for lasting friendships, or did it drive the dysfunction? I don’t know, but I am trying to establish healthy boundaries.
** See Gary Chapman’s bestseller book The 5 Love Languages.
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