This weekend, a backslide with the negative girl inside my head felt more like going over Niagra Falls in a barrel. A few recurring themes echoed through the weekend and the last few weeks, shadows of old and fresh pain of betrayal and rejection. Made for a very tough weekend that has/had absolutely nothing to do with training or exercise directly, but my thoughts started tumbling and congealing with yesterday’s training recap. Apparently the healthier I become physically my mental and emotional improvements seem to naturally follow. Only improvements in those areas are not quite so linear.

Saturday I made the decision to take a day off from training. I typically do this once a month anyway, with some thoughtful advance planning. This weekend, not going to the gym seemed like a Very Good Idea, because I had hit some sort of emotional wall that knocked me flat. I emailed TM about moving a scheduled appointment up a week, to sometime this week because I was starting to hear negative girl drone on loudly inside my head and needed to purge some things to continue to fight back against her influence.

May I just say, again, that my village of professional teachers and coaches are populated with rock stars? TM not only got back to me shortly after receiving my email, he suggested we meet for coffee if I had some time. I definitely had the time.

Breaks from training and from the other stressors of life are natural, required. It’s part of life and what I would say to anyone else I care for an about in a similar situation. But rules that I state so clearly to others are not always directly applicable to me as well. While I have have made dramatic inroads on this quality in the last year, there is still room for improvement. I viewed my choice to take a day off from exercise as capitulation to the stress of long friendships crumbling and the accompanying drama trying to unravel the edges of my life. The tension from coping with defensive, unkind, and untruthful statements was bad enough; M’s inability to just let me vent about it without critiquing my handling or reaction was not helpful and caused a lot of friction for me as well.

Negative girl found the volume button on her megaphone and was relentless in reminding me of my many inadequacies. I resisted and I ignored her to the best of my ability, but the effort took a toll. And as the fatigue settled in and upon my shoulders, the self-loathing stepped up because of my perceived weakness and inability to push through.

The vicious cycle had truly began, and I am not yet strong enough, competent enough, confident enough to overcome it all on my own.

Talking it over with TM, somehow I can separate myself from the reality of what is happening to friendships, i.e., the distancing themselves, the inability or unwillingness to communicate, poor choices and bad behavior. I am not typically a terrible or harshly judgmental person; however, there are some basic standards in life where the line must be held. It’s not okay for people to be unkind or cruel to me just because they can. It’s not appropriate to lie to me about anything – big or little – out of convenience or inability to face reality. I do not hold it against people who may disagree with me, and I am fine with being told my behavior or words are hurtful or wrong or needs to change.

I suppose my cynical muscle needs some work and development or definition. People make mistakes and should not always be judged harshly and punished for those errors in judgment, but a pattern of behavior with poor choices and/or behaviors speaks volumes about character. I tend to believe people when they tell me things, and if they tell me about themselves through their behavior, it may take a couple of situations yet eventually I get the message.

I have a pretty good understanding of fear, because my own list of things that wig me out and cause anxiety is long. And I also understand how fear can be a factor in less desirable conduct. However, my recent experiences … I simply fail to comprehend what may have changed to make me worthy of such derision and cruel silence.

And I just have to let it go.

TM and I discussed this in some detail. It’s not so much the size of my arms or the numbers on my scale or my timing in asking questions so much it is a matter of the sum total of these things.

The exercise is something new for me, and it’s been this big, hairy monster of anxiety and fear and gym crazy to overcome. I’m succeeding in ways that are not so readily apparent, but the wins are big wins. Being happy and excited about my progress and increasing confidence carries over into other aspects of my life, including friendships where my role is to play the patsy. Step too far out of line and the other party or parties will do just about anything to return to status quo.

Work is progressing exceedingly well, too. I am now a small business owner as well as part of management in a successful professional services firm. My job is not only “just” anything, and my income is now dependent upon me and my ability to earn, not on a scale or negotiating with my bosses when it comes time for annual reviews. We are financially stable and have no serious money worries.

I continue to have a happy, well-adjusted, balanced marriage. We are not big, flashy, flamboyant people, but ours is a good union and a happy, loving home. M, as much as he drives me insane with his rational practicality when I am emotionally tearing my hair out, is 110% supportive and always has my back. Unfortunately many do not enjoy a similar situation.

TM asked if I have considered competitive jealousy as a factor, and I actually laughed out loud when he suggested it. Jealous? Of me? But when he lays it out the many positives in my life, it makes more sense. I am so under-the-radar of average that it never occurs to me anyone could possibly be jealous or feel threatened by me.

Just the act of talking about it and having him dispassionately dissect my frustrations and hurt over behaviors and actions I cannot control gives me enormous perspective. Not caring what strangers on the internet may say or may think is one thing, but when it’s people I have actual friendships with offline and in real life for many years, it is so much more difficult to not care. What’s worse, I wonder why. Accepting I am unlikely to receive an answer I can accept much less understand is the first chink it that give-a-damn armor.

The ripples from gossip and conversations about me is probably the most upsetting part of this. Former friend talks to other friends in our social circles and next I know it’s “who do we invite if you do not get along?” Really? Are we regressing back to high school now? I absolutely hate being the focus of any extra attention.

Essentially this stuff has been building, layer by layer, and mostly I have shoved it aside and tried to take the higher road until it all blew over and away. Except it became so thick breathing normally became difficult and negative girl was finding bigger and bigger cracks in her cage.

Today I would not say I am 100% over it, but shutting the door is not requiring that I lean against it with all my might to keep it closed. I am a little sad, because I care deeply and it stings when people fall away. But free will is free will; they are within their rights to dump my ass without reason or cause. My reasons for pursuing my values and objectives are not going to change because someone does not care for a stronger, healthier, better version of me.

I will meet new people, make new friends. And I will do it with my shades tinted to slightly more cynical and less trusting than before. Because many of my emerging strengths come packaged with a different brand of wisdom and needs as well.

At the gym, I find myself sporting this silly grin when fatigue is weighing and I am trying to finish the set. It’s such a goofy expression and feels inappropriate for the circumstances. But I am truly happy when the work is done, when I can finally stop and breath a big sigh of relief that I am done with that for now, for today. Sometimes it’s painful then, sometimes it’s more painful later or the next day, but I still feel good about my efforts. I know that with time and effort I will leave this present plane and continue to move along toward something else.

This process of ending associations and letting go of friends and people I loved is similar. Right now, in the moment, it is very hard for me. By their actions, though, they have already let go of me. Trying to hold onto something that pains me this deeply will prevent me from continuing to make progress and is far, far worse.

6 thoughts on “Growing on

  1. I had assorted feelings as I read your post and wanted both to help you lock up negative girl and simultaneously bitch slap some people for you. I am so glad you have rock stars on your team!. Hope all will continue to improve.

    Then I read that last statement: “Trying to hold onto something that pains me this deeply will prevent me from continuing to make progress and is far, far worse.” I am planning a little closure ceremony for myself on Monday to let go of some of the past, finally. My TM thinks it is a great idea so – onward and upward – wish me luck

    1. Vesta, I’m totally in your corner and on your side in this. Letting go is hard no matter what the circumstances, yet it makes way for new growth. Negative girl is back in her box, back to bleating in the background. All is well in my little world.

  2. It’s so hard. You love someone, even cherish them. For whatever reason, the relationship turns sour and is no longer positive and validating. Instead, each encounter becomes a new target at your core. I have been there…and then I let go. My coveted “besties” of 22+ years. I didn’t think I was going to survive. I still miss what we had but know that it failed to exist long before I was willing to move on. Simple rule for me today…. If I can’t feel as good about ME after having had spent time with you, something isn’t right. It eventually gets better.

    1. Hey, thanks so much for the kind comment. I know it must be done – something not right is unlikely to improve – yet it is hard in the moment. Your simple rule is the perfect encapsulation of what I am experiencing right now.

  3. Ahh..the hardest part of all. First remember to be as kind to yourself as you would be to others. No matter what negative girl says. The letting go is painful. The not understanding the why just kills me. This has kicked me in the butt a number of times this past week. Had a good conversation yesterday with a long time friend that I thought was headed down the same path but we cleared the air and misunderstandings were cleared up. Thank god. Hard sometimes to believe someone can be jealous of you – or at least the “you” that you see in your head. But it is there. And I love Your J Tribe Sister’s rule – going to adopt that!

    1. It does seem the conflicts and bumps with friends seem to cluster together and hits all at once. That or my ability to compartmentalize and ignore what I do not want to see or deal with is even stronger than I realized. And the why – crazy-making at its worst. So sorry to hear this type of thing is an issue in your life this week as well.

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