Dear Strong Woman,
You teach others how to treat you.
Overwhelming gratitude for some new friendships in my life. I’m in awe of the depths to which we’ve gone in a few short months, and am currently ruminating in this glorious feeling of being seen, heard, and welcomed as ME and all that comes with that. The mess. The dreams. The dog photos. All of it.
This. More this.
I’m also very aware of my role here. Connection is a two-way street, and I’ve realized how often I’ve claimed this while choosing to do so solely from the passenger’s seat. Always one to listen, to ask for more details, to provide support, but not one to share as much about myself. (I do so a little more in this space, and yet even that is sometimes strategically censored or purposefully vague. I’m working on that.)
Funny, the “good” friend that I am, I’ve also been one to occasionally judge others for putting their issues on loud speaker, interpreting it as attention-seeking behavior. “Drama queen…” that voice in my head snarls out.
Continuing in this passenger-seat friendship pattern, pouring into others, eventually left me bitter. Resentful. “What am I getting out of this? I shouldn’t have to ask my friends to be interested in me.” I’d let these feelings eat at me, and then I’d let the friendships die because continuing them felt disingenuous. Fake. Texts to get together set me off into a rage-filled deluge of “they” and “shoulds” and frustration.
Audience or not, now who was being the drama queen?
It’s taken some intense self-reflection and been a hard pill to swallow, but when the pointy-finger-of-blame comes out, I’m recognizing it as a sign that I’m not taking responsibility for what’s happening. If I have a need, it isn’t up to others to take the wheel in filling that need. I drive that, and I ask others to come along for the ride.
“But I need to feel safe to really open up to people! I need to trust them!” I hear you. I’ve felt this, too. In fact, I’ve gone as far to say, in a rhetorical fashion, “Well whose fault is it that I don’t feel like I can truly be myself around them!?”
The answer? Mine, my friends. Mine mine mine.
I was so certain that trust and safety needed to exist before I could open up to people. Now, I’m witnessing first hand how opening up to people creates that trust and safety. The environment no longer dictates how I choose to be. My being now dictates what I do, and therefore, what I end up having in my life…like these friendships. I view them all as a precious gift, and then have to remind myself that they’re a gift I’ve given myself by operating at cause with them rather than at effect.
If you aren’t happy with the current state of your friendships, I encourage you, Strong Woman, to own the truth of what you have (and haven’t) done to make that so, and then be the source of a different result.
Anxious to own it? Afraid of the outcome? Pissed off that I would even suggest you’ve played a part in creating your relationship reality?
That uncomfortable feeling is your comfort zone expanding. Lean in.