About a week ago, some good friends of mine spontaneously dropped by for a visit. While they were here, I was overcome with anxiety, which they noticed and encouraged me to open up to them about. They made helpful observations and gave me encouragement, which I took to heart. Talking to them opened a door and shed light on my underlying issues of self-concept.
My sister later helped me to process some of the intensely negative self-talk that was exposed. I had made a list of traits earlier that day – things I need, things that would be nice, things I can handle, and things that I can’t. This was originally created about a potential partner, but I then turned it around and evaluated myself. I had all but one of my needed traits, some of my desired traits, and most of my tolerable traits; but the most interesting part was that, at some point in my life, I have been predominantly driven by my deal-breakers. Each and every one of them. None of them are dominant now, but some still come out from time to time. I realized that the traits I’d decided were deal-breakers were actually tolerable so long as they were not ruling forces of a person.
Looking at it again, I realized I’d date me. My sister pointed out that these were traits that make a good friend, reminding me not to fixate on partnership, so I clarified I’d want to get to know me and spend time with me. She then asked me if I would say these cruel scripts to a friend, and of course I wouldn’t. If I’m going to improve my self-concept and sense of well-being, I also need to be my own best friend.
Even after this point, I was still struggling. If I’m worth knowing, if I could make a good partner, why did people keep breaking up with me? Doesn’t that show there’s something wrong with me? This propelled her to talk to me about why we choose the partners we do over time, reminding me about attachment figures. (I’ll make a longer post about this topic soon.) We end up with people who will help us understand things we’ve been through, and when we are oriented toward the more destructive side of the list, we connect with other people over there, and they motivate us to work our way to the desirable side. They show us what we don’t want to be, and they force us to be better through our attempts to find more effective ways to interact with them. So ultimately, she explained, failures in these areas are actually successes. If those old relationships had been “successful”, as in lasting, they would seriously suck now due to extreme stagnation (among other things).
This helped me finally get some closure on some “failed” relationships that I had been using as false evidence against myself, things I’d been using to assassinate my own character. It had the additional benefit of helping me crystallize a message my sister shared with me months ago about how “bad” traits are not actually bad. (If anyone wants to know more about that, please leave a comment.)
I feel so much lighter now, like several large weights have been lifted from me. My proverbial joints are creaking and cracking, and this is taking some time to get used to, but it’s now substantially easier for me to focus on being productive. The patterns of attachment still linger, but it concerns me a whole lot less than it did previously. So I’d like to send out a deeply heartfelt thank-you to my wonderful sister for helping me overcome something that was secretly crippling me, and to my good friends for getting me to open up and make that healing possible.