This past weekend I had another triggering moment. The moment itself was so small, hardly noticeable. To most other people, the event would have passed without so much as an acknowledgement. But for me, not only did I notice it, I felt beat across the face with it… hard.
Lately, I’ve been doing pretty good with these discombobulated feelings. They have been less frequent lately and I just feel good about that! I feel like I’ve finally had a lot of time to breathe. Deep breath and relax. It feels good. I feel less tossed around and more stable. I feel pretty grounded. I’m becoming confident and sure of who I am. I would honestly even say that I probably feel the best I’ve ever felt and I am so grateful for all of the healing and freedom that has brought me to this place in life.
But sometimes the crazy thoughts still find me. And last weekend they found me in my hot car.
I had just left breakfast with a group of friends, which had been pleasant and comforting. I felt connected, which always makes me feel safe. As we were parting, we quickly brought up something we needed to work on for the following weekend because I would be absent, so I mentally made a note to address it in a group text to make sure everything was covered, and headed to my car. I quickly jotted and sent out my text once I got to my car, and then ran an errand. Before I was home, I got a reply saying that they had already talked about it and figured out a plan. Cool beans! some people may have thought. “Awesome sauce, thanks!” others may have responded.
I wish this had been my reaction, but my mind and body had other plans.
I felt my face and head go hot and numb. I may have held my breath as I read the text again.
They?!?! When did they talk about it without me? We were LITERALLY just together! Did they freaking start a group chat without me already?!? Seriously?! I can’t believe they would do that. Why are they so quick to leave me out of it? Why don’t they like me? Why don’t they want me around? I seriously can’t believe they would do that. We’re grown adults!
I think this is when my voice of reason saw it’s chance and tried to speak up.
Even if this is what had happened, would they really do that to intentionally cause you pain? Do they really hate you? Do you really think this was done to you on purpose? What if they just talked about it before they got in their cars and it really wasn’t a big deal? What if they don’t actually hate you?
…BUT WHAT IF?!?!??!
Truth tried to reason, but my racing mind would have none of it. I had already fallen and the ship had set sail at full speed. It’s embarrassing, but I’m just being real with you guys.
One of my positive traits is that I have always valued clarity and honesty in my relationships with those I cherish and care deeply about. However, in that moment I felt like a mad woman. I had to ask. I couldn’t ask. I truly felt crazy. I tried to reason it away, but the pain cut too deeply. When the wound could be ignored no longer, I decided to word a text to make it sound like I was still mostly put together instead of the true shrapnel pieces I had left of my brain. My thumb hovered over the send button and I put my phone down and walked away. Was it even ok to send this kind of text? To ask these kinds of questions? Was I putting too much on my friend if she truly had no intention or idea of the hurt? Finally I decided: it wasn’t wrong to want honesty and clarity, even if it did leave me vulnerable and looking pretty stupid. I pressed down on the blue send arrow, tossed my phone on my bed and walked far away.
It wasn’t long at all before I received an apology and simple clarification. It had indeed been a quick conversation on the way to their cars. What I believed had happened was not true and I’m glad I clarified, but later I felt convicted about what I had believed about that friend in particular. Not shame as I had earlier felt, but true sadness that my heart didn’t believe the good in her.
Situations that others may be able to brush off and say, “Eh, I’m sure it’s no big deal,” are the same situations that I immediately imagine the worst over, but it’s like an attack of lies. I’ve gotten much better. But still… Why? Where does this come from? What’s the reason I so easily feel overwhelming fear and betrayal in the absence of communication? Why?
I was laying in bed one night this week thinking about how I need things communicated to feel safe. It’s not just a nosy thing. It’s a survival thing. Why does this feel so vital and necessary when it really shouldn’t be a big deal. “Trust the process,” I was told many times throughout my college career in my social work program. “You just have to trust the process,” I was reminded over and over. You’ll never guess who could not, in fact, trust the process. So yeah… that doesn’t work for me. But the question burned deeply in my heart again: WHY? And then a door in my mind began to crack open. Hm. Communication during my childhood… Oh crap. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.
Growing up, nothing was communicated in our home. People didn’t talk about important things (or anything, really), so we were left to fill in the blanks on everything. Secrets. Lies. I was never really sure what to believe or what was going on and I had no one to ask. I learned to be skeptical of everything and didn’t trust anyone. So I had to figure everything out on my own. Everything. I was a little girl learning how the world works with no one to support me or help me understand it. There was no one to explain it or teach me about normal life. It felt overwhelming and exhausting… and it still does. Nothing was communicated and it was terrifying. You never knew what was around the corner and there was so much fear of the unknown. So much was unknown… except for when it wasn’t. At times, no one said anything and then at other times, our mom would share all the details of everything going on in the family including conflict with any extended family or friends, financial problems, bills that couldn’t be paid, marriage issues between her and my dad, her anger and rage… I was a little girl and it felt very scary. To me, she felt out of control. I couldn’t take it and I think I learned to shut down when I was around her. She never saw that it hurt me. She still does it. I still shut down.
Being left in the dark about your own life is no fun, but neither is being dumped on. There never seemed to be a normal balance. I’m concluding that maybe I have an unhealthy relationship with communication. I’m figuring it out—how to do it and receive it… how to translate it appropriately using truth. And maybe, just maybe learning to relax and trust the process.
But if you’re one of my mostly healthy adult relationships and wavering between whether to share additional information with me or whether it’s not probably not necessary and there’s really no need to share it…
Hear this from an ACA: If it involves me at all, please, for the love of all that is good, don’t leave me in the dark. Overcommunicate the details, please. Talk to me. Tell me. Be straight with me. If I said or did something that made you mad, tell me. If I know that you care, then I will trust you more if you communicate with me. Be clear. Be open. I know this may sounds ridiculous, but it actually scares me when I don’t know what’s happening. Being blindsided or—heaven forbid—surprised is the actual worst. It causes my body to react with intense stress and anxiety so just don’t, please.
I’m curious if you’ve had similar experiences and how they caused you to feel and react.
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