I have this terrible habit of not expressing precisely how I feel if I think there’s a chance it’ll be met with resistance. Example: I sort of wanted to go to a partly last night. A party for a woman who is the mother of a child I used to teach in preschool. She’s celebrating a milestone birthday and I thought it might be fun to “show my face”. It’s important to say that I was not clamoring to go, I just felt like I might want to. YBW asked me earlier in the day if I wanted him to go with me. I told him, yes I did. (And here’s where I begin to undermine myself) But I also told him that if he didn’t want to go, that was OK too.
Later on when it was time to think about leaving the house, I got frustrated because he chose to take the out I so graciously gave him. I came upstairs and changed into my pajamas, brushed my teeth and got ready for bed. I was cutting off my nose to spite my face, but I was in no frame of mind to be around people.
I set myself up to fail.
I’m so adept at it, I almost never realize I do it.
Last night I realized it.
YBW and I had a conversation that began on an unrelated note, but found it’s way to this particular subject matter. I said something about how when the roles are reversed, I would go with him because I knew that he wanted to go and would like it if I went with him.
He said something to the effect that in that case, I’m being the better person.
At first I thought he meant I did it purposefully. That I thought I was a better person than he is, that I do these things to be the better person. He assured me that wasn’t the point.
So I asked then why did he choose not to be the better person.
I don’t remember if he answered me or not.
But here’s why: What I did was give him an out and hope that he wouldn’t take it.
I’m not skilled at saying what I want.
I spent a lifetime learning not to express those kinds of things. I learned quickly that what I may or may not want didn’t matter. I learned that I was to do what was expected of me without question. This was my childhood.
The moment I began to do what I wanted, I was unceremoniously ejected from my home.
Let me assure you, a traumatic event like that will give you pause. And reinforce the fact that anything I may or may not want were irrelevant.
I chose a passive aggressive, master manipulator as my first husband. I was expertly fooled into believe I was not only able to express what I wanted, but that I would also get it. This was tricky for me. It looked like I was finally able to articulate what I wanted and I was amazed by it. Only, it wasn’t really what I wanted most of the time…the sabotage was so subtle I didn’t realize it was happening.
I might express my desire, but for the most part it went unfulfilled.
Eventually I began to understand how it worked and stopped expressing my wants all together. I would simply deffer.
Example: If asked where I would like to go to dinner, I might have something I really wanted to eat but I would never say it, I would simply respond with something like, It doesn’t matter to me, where would you like to go?
It was hurtful to be specifically asked what I wanted and then not actually get it. So I learned to stop wanting things. I learned to stop expressing my opinion.
But I didn’t like it.
It created a toxicity in me. A bitter resentment.
A pattern is created and then it creates how one functions. I knew better than to express myself, but I hated it. I hated the people who started it, and I hated myself for perpetuating it.
Most of the time I try to be hyper-aware, but it’s so easy to fall back into a lifelong pattern…
I am creating a self-fulfilling prophecy with YBW.
I’m not giving either of us a chance.
If I don’t say what I want, I won’t get it. And then I get mad. At him. At myself.
If I say what I want and then add a caveat based on his wants, I hope he’ll show me how wonderful he is and do what I want even though I’ve given him an out. I’m setting him up to fail. I’m setting myself up to fail. And then I get mad when we fail.
Now, I’m not saying this is entirely my responsibility. It’s his too. But I need to trust that he’s not going to repeat the same patterns I’ve already experienced. I need to be clear and then see what his choices are.
If I’m clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that I want him to go with me to a birthday party and he chooses not to go, then I have a right to be hurt and frustrated and mad.
But if I’m not clear, if I say, but if you don’t want to, that’s OK, then he’ll choose what’s most comfortable for him. And when I get hurt and frustrated and angry it won’t make any sense.
I’m not good at expressing what I really want, sometimes I’m even worse at even understanding what I really want. It’s a skill set I need help with. I need to practice more.
It’s just so much easier to deffer, to say, “It doesn’t matter to me, whatever you want.”
I’m still getting hurt, but I’m not letting anyone else hurt me. I’m doing it myself.
I’m aware that is some kind of twisted logic…but it’s my logic.
And I’m working on it.
I’ve tasked myself to journal about expectations.
I have a feeling I’m going to surprise myself.