Dear ______ (because I can’t think of a name to insert, but it’s going to be one of those entries where I just write a personal letter to all of you),
Coming home from Portland was the right thing to do, even though people call Dana my “friend” and there’s no Biddy McGraw’s here. Portland, for me, was just one struggle after another. I got so frustrated that I moved back home… and then moved back 18 months later. Houston was not the city back then that it is now. I endured a lot of prejudice, a lot of it coming from people I already knew and not from strangers. However, when I moved back, Portland wasn’t the city it used to be, either. Unemployment was too high, the city was too expensive, and for all the benefits we had there, they didn’t matter. We could barely feed ourselves.
I also had to work on myself emotionally. When I left for Oregon the second time, I still had terrible boundaries and couldn’t bear to stand up for myself because I thought that people would just think I was being an imposition, because that’s how it had come across when I’d tried to stand up for myself before.
Feeling like you’re imposing on someone is sometimes the worst feeling in the world, depending on the situation. There are those times when what you need is truly maddening, but if you have terrible boundaries, the flip side is that your friends will get used to you never needing anything and will treat you like dirt when all of the sudden, you try and grow a backbone.
For me, the hardest part has been sticking to my guns even when I feel threatened. Threatened is a harsh word, but it’s exactly how I feel when my request is met with anger and frustration at “being needy…” because I know it’s not true. I jump on the defensive because even though I understand people and the fact that they have their own stories to tell, rejection feels a lot like a knife to your front.
But at least you can see it coming.
Then, if you’re perceptive enough, you realize the paradigm shift. People are calling you needy because they can’t or won’t try to understand. Don’t want to take the time because you’re so insignificant. If you’re not the perceptive type, you’ll keep jumping up and down trying to get noticed, instead of just realizing that your friend is a jerk and you need to go to someone who won’t make you jump up and down in the first place.
Making the connection between healthy and abusive is what led me to Houston. I realized that I had a lot more ways to deal with feeling like the world was ending because someone didn’t like/trust/respect me. It hurts because I would like to think I’m the type of friend you keep. It hurts when you’ve been told your entire life that you matter above everything else, but actions and words say complete opposite things.
Healthy is where actions and words match up, even when the outcome is separation. You may not like it, but at least you’re parting ways knowing the truth. There’s so much dysfunction in the world that it’s often not possible to get the answers you want, because a lot of people retreat into their own shells instead of facing problems head on and handling them with care.
Learning to be healthy has not only given me better boundaries, it has given me the ability to spot when words and actions don’t line up and call people on them. Because I’ve been so meek about asking for help until now, even the smallest thing sets people off because they feel like they don’t know you anymore. You’re not the friend you were.
You’re fallible, human, and alive.
Just like them.