Righteous Anger: Goodbye for Now
I said a (much needed) temporary goodbye to someone I still care a lot about tonight. And the funny thing about it, is that his urging me to take better care of myself, his devotion to raising my self-esteem and self-worth, and his support of me getting medication to treat my anxiety is what helped bring me to this point.
I have anger, and it is righteous anger.
Before I say anything else, I need to say this: He is very important to me, and I love him very much as a friend and confidant in ways that he may never grow to understand.
The thing about suffering from anxiety (and to some degree depression), is that it’s very difficult to get angry at anyone but yourself. Either you don’t have the attention span to get mad and stay mad (anxiety), or you find a way to blame yourself for all of the problems you have in your relationships (depression). For me, it was the former most of the time, but the latter showed up often enough to make me both blame myself and hate myself for so many things that went wrong.
The worst part of this is that I let him blame problems in the relationship on my anxiety, accepted the blame, and convinced myself it was true, where there were times that it was only partially true or not true at all.
I was too anxious for so much of my relationship with this person to see that the relationship wasn’t healthy from the beginning. I was quick to take responsibility for causing problems that I didn’t always cause. I spent so much time living in abject fear of losing my relationship (both friendship and otherwise), that I never really spoke my mind in a way that he could hear me clearly.
I’m angry that I allowed myself to be convinced that I could be in a healthy relationship with someone who was fresh out of another relationship. I’m angry that he made me spend the first half of the relationship worrying about losing him to his ex (by his own admission), and the second half worrying about losing him to someone else (I’m not built for open relationships). And I could go on and on, but you can see even as I write this that most of the anger that I’m expressing is still directed at me.
But the biggest chunk of my anger, which I realized over the course of the last three weeks, is from having someone else control so much of the course of a relationship, which is supposed to be a two way street. And to be fair, there were BIG parts of it that were totally a two-way street. But there were other parts where he controlled everything. How we communicated, when we communicated, if we communicated, what we communicated about, etc. And it happened again tonight.
Just because you don’t want to hear something does not mean there is a problem with how it is communicated.
Let that sink in for a minute…
Just because you don’t want to hear it, or it’s not phrased in a way you like, doesn’t make it less pertinent, true, etc…
Tonight I was trying to drop some knowledge about real life in the professional workplace (which my friend is VERY new to), and he didn’t want to hear what I was saying, because it was discouraging. Just because it is discouraging, depressing, or maddening does not mean that it is not reality. I was essentially told, by this person, that I was not in a good state of mind (because of other issues that happened today), so I was not delivering the message in a way he wanted to hear, and he shut the conversation down.
So let’s replay that for a second: You don’t want to hear what I’m saying, so you blame my state of mind (a very effective control method for people who suffer from anxiety or depression), shut down the conversation (control), and move on to what you want to say/do/hear (control).
Don’t shoot the messenger just because the message isn’t what you wanted to hear. And if you do, you’re exerting control over the dialog, and in this case over the evening’s activities.
But where my anger, which I think is righteous, kicks in, is that I was saying the things I was saying to prepare him for the reality of the workplace and for his own good. I’ve counseled him a lot in this area, quite successfully by his own admission, but today the piper wasn’t playing his tune, and he shut the music down.
I hear negative, discouraging, hurtful, depressing, and maddening things from everyone I know at one point or another. But I’ve never accused anyone of skewing the message because of their state of mind, and or prevented them from delivering the message. Sometimes you have to listen to things and take them with a grain of salt, or let them say their piece and mull it over before you toss it to the side. But to say someone’s message is skewed due to their state of mind and shut them down because it’s not what you want to hear is uncalled for.
But anyway, it boils down to this: He used his knowledge of my anxiety to control the situation. For someone who suffers from depression that would be like me telling them that whatever they said didn’t matter, because it was their depression talking, and it isn’t based in reality.
Think about it. Think about how easy it is to manipulate someone when you can always try to blame things on their depression or anxiety when you don’t want to hear what they’re saying.
So yeah, I’m glad my brain has slowed down enough for me to process things and get appropriately angry. I have no desire to scorch the earth at this point. I just feel like I need to be heard, and I’m hoping that this post accomplishes that.
And to some degree I fear that he will read this and decide that he doesn’t want to be friends with me at all, but I’m prepared for that reality. Sure it will hurt, but not nearly as much as all that I’ve been through over the past five months.
I’ve learned a lot about myself from all of this, and I’ve learned a lot about him. He’s very self-aware, and while some of the things I’ve said here will be hard for him to read, I hope that he’ll learn something and take something positive away from it if he reads it at all.
If not, I feel like I finally voiced what needed to be said months ago. I’m sorry it took so long, but I was preoccupied with blaming myself and tearing my cuticles off due to anxiety. :)