Reminders

I had a moment today. I caught myself about to repeat a behavior that on its surface doesn’t seem destructive, but when considered in the context of my life and personal history, isn’t great.

I had been chatting with someone who is now an acquaintance, and who I had distanced from and set to acquaintance status for a reason. We both agreed on a point I made, and I had the thought, “Well, maybe the two of us could work on that together….”

I immediately smacked that down with a NOPE. Bad idea. There goes my brain, trying to weasel its way into reconnecting with that person and getting validation from an unhealthy place.

I had to remind myself that this person is no longer of a status in my life to get that kind of connection or attention from me for a very good reason. They had themselves shown me that they didn’t want to be.

I thought to myself, “Once again, why can’t *they* be the one to reach out in the way I want to?” Because they barely ever did, while I carried the connection for the both of us. So why am I always the one to make the effort?

This happens a lot in my relationships, and sometimes even friendships. It’s an unhealthy pattern I carry with me from my family, and thankfully years of experience and therapy have helped me to recognize this, and like today, nip it in the bud before it happens.

In the past, out of some deranged sense of feminine duty, I’d overfunction and pick up the slack and do all the work thinking it was a demonstration of how much I cared. Problem is, the other person was underfunctioning and was barely even paying enough attention to see (or care about) what I was doing.

I mean, it was a demonstration of how much I cared. I love doing things for others. It’s probably part of my “love language” or whatever bullshit that is. But the problem is, I gravitate to the underfunctioners. The emotionally unavailable. The vampires and human lampreys that do nothing but feed off of other people’s support and don’t give back.  Why? I know that it has to do with growing up with underfunctioning people in my family. When that is all you know, you equate it with “love.” You think it’s “normal.” Obviously, I’m still working on killing the tractor beam of these people.

Not long after I caught myself thinking of repeating that unhealthy behavior, a reminder popped up on my phone. A couple of years ago, a friend told me she had this reminder set on her phone after a bad relationship, so I decided to set it as well:

“People are a priority only when they’ve earned it.”

Bam. There it is. I’ve kept this reminder up for so long but today it finally served its purpose. THIS is why I cannot go through with that behavior. THIS is why reconnecting with that person isn’t worth it. They haven’t earned it. Maybe someday they’ll be in a place to make an effort and reach out to me to connect the way I had tried before. But that isn’t happening today, so I’m not going to waste my time or energy. There are plenty of other people that can help me do what I was going to ask of them, and not make me feel like shit in the process.

As the singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile sang:

“I’m too proud to beg for
Your attention and your friendship
And your time.
So you can come and get it from now on.”

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