Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Contrast.
Sometimes when I’m having a really good day, I hear a nagging voice in my head that serves only to undermine.
It’s not a voice from my childhood or from my ex or from my own self-doubts. Many of those—though not all—I’ve exorcized over the past few of years. This is different.
Like the others of the past, it’s an action-reaction pattern. I’ll feel a certain stimulus and then I’ll hear the reaction to that stimulus from so many repeats in my past.
Here’s how it works. Here’s exactly how it works.
I’m getting a ton of work accomplished. This is good. I’ve had to trudge through a lack of motivation due to emotional upsets and I’m finally getting some inspiration back. I allow myself to feel good about it.
That’s when the nagging voice hits. “Well, aren’t youbeing productive?!”
It’s not said in a nice way. It’s cutting and mean and sarcastic. It’s the voice of a former friend.
But that, looking back, was often the pattern. Any time I felt good about what I was doing, she found a way to tear it down though I don’t think she consciously knew that she was doing it. I know, at that time, I didn’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 my productivity. If a man adored me, it was a doubt-instilling comment that it wouldn’t 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 “funning” with me.
The comment almost always had a sharp edge to it. At the time, I thought I was probably overly sensitive because these remarks were always said in a light-hearted, joking manner by someone who supposedly cared about me…even though the content was often demeaning and cruel or downright angry.
Looking back at the friendship, I remember these comments more so than anything else that ever passed between us. Which is a shame, but that’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 that’s an indicator, I’ve discovered. If every time you’re with someone or talking to someone, you leave their presence feeling much worse than when you first saw them, something’s amiss, something’s out of balance. People who support each other and love each other will have their ups and downs and not every conversation is going to be giddy with joy, but if every interaction leaves one person feeling damned near suicidal, something is wrong with this relationship.
If the relationship is sound and balanced, then you leave the interaction feeling calm when you were upset or just plain feeling good after talking. That may not be the result every time, but I’ve had relationships and friendships where I almost always ended a conversation feeling really at peace or excited about just being alive. It’s a huge contrast.
Even when one has graduated from an unbalanced relationship and moved on, the pattern remains and the triggers are still there to be overcome.
I’m getting a lot done today, I tell myself, and I’m feeling good about it.
Then that nagging voice pipes up. “My, but you’re being productive today, aren’t you?”
And I have to pause, steel myself, and answer, “Why, yes. I am.”