K made me cry today. Unintentionally, of course; she was going for the opposite.
She brought up in public something I’d said to her in private. It made everyone laugh, and I got defensive. When they left, I tried to explain my (over)reaction. That I know it’s not healthy but I need to be in control of who hears me say what, and that I don’t like other people relaying in my presence something I said to them before, because I have trouble communicating in the first place, and that only further distorts my intended message. And because it draws attention to me that I would never draw to myself by saying certain things in the company of more than two people.
She didn’t understand.
She said she saw nothing wrong with sharing with other people a neutral statement somebody else made, and it didn’t matter who shared it or what effect it had on those others. It didn’t occur to her that I make myself look stupid so often, I don’t need other people making me look stupid in front of additional witnesses. Nor did she take into account that “neutral” statements still say something about the person uttering them; not always something positive. (She claims to have social anxiety by the way. So I kind of expected her to sympathize? But our experiences of anxiety vary wildly.)
But that’s not what made me cry.
What made me cry was how she responded to my saying that I know it’s wrong and I don’t expect her to change, but just want her to understand my seemingly irrational behaviour.
And she said
that maybe I should stop seeing everything in terms of it being something wrong with me, and consider that maybe sometimes, it’s something wrong with other people; maybe it’s something wrong with her?
And I just started sobbing. Straight up bawling, because of how right she was. And I never thought of it that way. My feeling bad is always my fault, and I never even entertain the thought that somebody else might (also) be in the wrong.
I mean, obviously, in this particular case she wasn’t. But I’m pretty sure it was the first time I had ever stood up for myself and for my right to feelings, however irrational. It was an uncharacteristically confrontational behaviour on my part, broaching the subject as soon as I could and being (more or less) unapologetic about it. Putting my feelings first.
I always thought I was selfish. But maybe not in all the ways I could be.