It’s been a few years now since I sat down and gave myself a critical pep talk.
The time had come to take stock, admit my mistakes and grow because frankly, the alternative was beating my head up against the same wall indefinitely. Hardly attractive because I bruise easily and I have a low pain threshold.
I am the first person to admit I can come across as abrasive. I am often more concerned with truth and fact than I am with someone else’s emotions. It’s not that I don’t care, let’s separate those two issues because they are not the same thing. If I care about you and I call you friend I will endeavor to be honest with you and I expect the same in return.
The pure and simple fact however, is that there are many people who claim to want honesty but when they are presented with it and it doesn’t fit into their neat little box, they dismiss it faster than you can say “bullshit”.
They will also turn you into an emotional pirate who has no feelings and is unnecessarily mean.
If you believe that I am a mean person, you have absolutely no business calling yourself my friend. I have recently had to purge more people from my life because of their utter ignorance of who I am – partly because they are, if I am being frank, selfish. Which is not to say that they cannot be kind or have not been kind, because I have witnessed great acts of kindness from them both to me and others.
I say selfish because while they profess to be friend, they are infinitely more concerned with what they can get from me or how I can support them emotionally, than actually getting to know me and understand who I am and why I say and do the things I do. If you make little to no attempt to understand someone’s motivations they will never make sense to you. This is fine if you ignore what doesn’t make sense to you. If you are not the type to just let it slide over you and you choose to assume the worst and then call me on it, you will come up against the warrior in me and depending directly on how confrontational you are, I will be equally as brutal. The side of me who is concerned more with being clearly understood than not hurting your misdirected feelings will seem to you merciless.
Because I am factual first and sympathetic second, people will see my swift and logical dissemination of inaccuracies as hurtful. I am not responsible for this, you decide how you react to the external stimuli in the world and you need to take ownership of that. I am not trying to be bombastic and I am certainly not trying to be hurtful, perception is how you see things, it is not necessarily reality.
If you can look objectively at the facts and keep an honest dialogue open, you will see the massive expanse of my emotional and empathetic core. If you step into that arena and are comfortable with–yes, what can feel like brutal honesty sometimes–you will be rewarded with one of, if not the most faithful and true friend who will love and support you, unconditionally. One who will self sacrifice often in the right environment because my ultimate happiness rests in my relationships.
If however, you cannot step into that arena; it will seem like a harsh battlefield, you will be unable to sustain that level of emotional upheaval and you will one day lay down the gauntlet, whether consciously or not and set your feet on the path to ruin.
It will be painful and swift but more importantly, it will be final.
I say this because when I did not understand myself properly, I was the one who was in constant emotional upheaval and distress, trying desperately to please everyone around me with skant regard for how I was emptying out my entire self and getting very little back.
It got to the stage where I was of no good to anyone, least of all myself. When I realized that, I had to pull back from the emotional vampires around me who were shocked and horrified that I had seemingly ‘stopped caring and being supportive’. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard those words. It took me a lot of time (and therapy) to understand what was going on, why I was feeling the way I was and that I had to cut the emotional vampires out of my life completely. I liken it to the difference between being ‘dry’ and being ‘sober’. If you give some people an inch they will always take a mile because they are inherently selfish.
It is therefore, no small wonder that I have a very small group of exceptional women in my life who are caring, generous of heart and spirit, truth seeking warriors that I call friends. Women who love, support and truly understand me.
This is difficult for some people because they themselves are often in crisis and in need of support. From extra marital affairs to substance or alcohol abuse or eating disorders, those people are not honest with themselves and cannot bear the weight of my honesty as a result. They want my emotional support and buoyancy in rough seas without wanting to swim against the current of their own denial and resolve it. They want the empath in the ditch with them.
It is no small wonder that these relationships disintegrate. Despite the fact that I had to remove them from my life I carry them with me each day. I feel the presence of each of them and the loss weighs on me but I respect myself too much to allow people to take more than they are willing to give back.
It has taken me years, heart wrenching pain, oceans of tears, a failed marriage and the breakdown of a few friendships to reach this place and I will not allow anyone to unpick the work I have invested into becoming the best version of myself that I can be, endeavoring to learn how to be more gentle than I was yesterday.
Thank you for reading.