Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Contrast.
Sometimes when Iâ€™m having a really good day, I hear a nagging voice in my head that serves only to undermine.
Itâ€™s not a voice from my childhood or from my ex or from my own self-doubts. Â Many of thoseâ€”though Â not allâ€”Iâ€™ve exorcized over the past few of years. This is different.
Like the others of the past, itâ€™s an action-reaction pattern. Iâ€™ll feel a certain stimulus and then Iâ€™ll hear the reaction to that stimulus from so many repeats in my past.
Hereâ€™s how it works. Hereâ€™s exactly how it Â works.
Iâ€™m getting a ton of work accomplished. This is good. Iâ€™ve had to Â trudge through a lack of motivation due to emotional upsets and Iâ€™m finally getting some inspiration back. I allow myself to feel good about it.
Thatâ€™s when the nagging voice hits. â€œWell, arenâ€™t youbeing productive?!â€
Itâ€™s not said in a nice way. Itâ€™s cutting and mean and sarcastic. Itâ€™s the voice of a former friend.
But that, Â looking Â back, Â was Â often Â the Â pattern. Â Any time I felt good about what I was doing, she found a way to tear it down though I donâ€™t think she consciously knew that she was doing it. I know, at that time, I didnâ€™t realize she was doing it either or its effect on me.
If I was cranking out the work, it was a snarky remark about Â my Â productivity. Â If Â a Â man Â adored Â me, Â it Â was Â a doubt-instilling Â comment Â that it wouldnâ€™t Â last. If I was happy with something in my home, then it was a guilt-trip on the size of my house or that it was comfortable.
No matter what it was, if it was a sweet moment for me, there was a comment to be made, all in the name of being supportive or just â€œfunningâ€ with me.
The comment almost always had a sharp edge to it. At the time, I thoughtÂ I was probably overly sensitive Â because these Â remarks were always said in a light-hearted, joking manner by someone who supposedly cared about meâ€¦even though the content was often demeaning Â and cruel or downright angry.
Looking Â back Â at Â the Â friendship, Â I Â remember Â these comments Â more so than anything Â else that ever passed between us. Which is a shame, but thatâ€™s the legacy that lives on so many years later.
Often after talking to her, I felt awful. And then I felt guilty for feeling awful because I thought she was so supportive of me. Then I felt really bad.
And thatâ€™s an indicator, Iâ€™ve discovered. If every time youâ€™re with Â someone Â or talking to someone, Â you leave their presence Â feeling Â much Â worse than when you first saw them, somethingâ€™s amiss, somethingâ€™s out of balance. People who support each other and love each other will have their ups and downs and not every conversation Â is going to be giddy with joy, but if every interaction leaves one Â person Â feeling Â damned Â near Â suicidal, Â something Â is wrong with this relationship.
If the relationship Â is sound and balanced, Â then you leave the interaction feeling calm when you were upset or just plain feeling good after Â talking. That may not be the result every time, but Iâ€™ve had relationships Â and friendships where I almost always ended a conversation feeling really at peace or excited about just being alive. Itâ€™s a huge contrast.
Even whenÂ one has graduated Â from Â an unbalanced relationship Â and moved on, the pattern remains and the triggers are still there to be overcome.
Iâ€™m getting Â a lot done today, I tell myself, Â and Iâ€™m feeling good about it.
Then that nagging voice pipes up. â€œMy, but youâ€™re being productive today, arenâ€™t you?â€
And I have to pause, steel myself, and answer, â€œWhy, yes. I am.â€