I came across a tweet yesterday where someone was lamenting the loss of a family member because they came out and the family member rejected them. They’d suspected it would go that way, and they felt stupid for having thrust themselves into that situation against their better judgment. It made me think about how on a larger spectrum, so many of us walk into situations with people who we think might hurt or reject us, and how I specifically have done this as an attempt to self-harm.
For example, the summer before freshman year in high school, there was a new girl who I befriended on MySpace, and she’d made me promise that we’d remain friends after school started. However, in the fall, despite having two classes with her, she rarely ever talked to me. So, instead of taking the hint, I would attempt to talk to her while we were in large groups together, though she’d made it very clear that she had no intentions of maintaining the friendship she’d basically begged me for during the summer. In hindsight, I realize she was likely playing a cruel joke, but to thirteen-year-old-Cydney, I thought that it was just a simple misunderstanding. Surely,she hadn’t meant to blow me off!
This is a small example, but the pattern is a recurring one for people like you and I. Empaths and empathetic people largely find it unconscionable for people to not like us or to mistreat us, and we are vaguely aware of how we don’t deserve it, but since we are also a lot more likely to be depressed or socially anxious, we condition ourselves to miss the signs as they are revealed to us.
The tweet resurfaced a lot of suppressed feelings I’d had about the times I’d been rejected, or felt left out, or taken advantage of, or disrespected. It made me realize that there’s no cookie for being long-suffering, no brownie point for being a doormat and allowing people to have no regard for my boundaries, let alone my existence.
We don’t have to wait for family members to reject us for being who we are. We don’t have to allow people to hurt us and then avoid taking a hint or believing that someone would have the audacity to hurt us. The best thing I’ve learned on this journey is that it is foolish and stupid of me to expect others to operate their lives how I do, and to treat me the way I treat them. As the sole occupant of your body, you have a responsibility to take care of it, inside and out.
Unfriend people. Block people. It’s not petty, it’s not cowardly, and it certainly does not mean the other person wins. Protect yourself first, always. Your family member rejects your existence? Gaslights you? Understand that your mental health takes priority over keeping up appearances. Someone plays a game with you or disrespects your time? Call them out and hold them accountable. And then unfriend/block and keep it moving.
Better people are on their way to us, but we won’t realize it if we remain committed to missing the point.
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