Hot on the heels of the lesson in how to express yourself when you’re unhappy comes the lesson of how little most people care. And then, what’s the next lesson?
This is not a cry for help post. But I am asking, because I think I’m missing the point of why I’m supposed to give voice to my unhappiness and anxieties. I thought the result would be understanding and help. But now I’m a little embarrassed I was that naive.
Here’s a conversation I had recently with a guy I play D&D with, re-capped.
me- Hey, I’m having this slight personality conflict with someone in the group, and it’s interfering with my learning process, so I’m suggesting this easy, non-invasive solution.
guy- No. You need to change yourself to accommodate him.
me- Oh, okay, well, that probably would solve the problem, but since that might not happen any time soon, how about we try my easy fix, that only involves two people changing seats so this guy can’t breathe down my neck while I play, dictating my moves.
guy- No. You need to understand that’s just how he is.
me- Yeah, I’d kind of figured that out. But since I’m a little bit tentative when I’m learning something, and he’s kind of pushy, I’d like the opportunity to make some space between the two of us so I can make my own decisions. This will help me learn.
guy- That’s just who he is. He has good intentions. He knows the game better than any of us.
me- Good for him. I applaud his superior intelligence, and his mighty moral code. Now listen to me as I tell you who I am, in the hopes you will afford me even a fraction of the empathy and acceptance you’ve awarded this fellow. When I was married, I spent many years under the thumb of a highly intelligent person. I allowed myself to be controlled, my moves decided by someone with the best of intentions. I allowed it to happen! After several years, I doubted myself so much, I started to go a little nuts. I didn’t leave the house. I mistrusted people deeply. I had addiction problems. And now, although standing on my own and finding my own voice is really, really hard for me, I’m hell bent on doing it. I just need to give myself a little bit of space when I bump up against people like my ex, until my confidence is up to speed. Otherwise I fall back into old habits, allowing this guy in the group to suggest the spells I should cast and how I should level up. I need to make my own decisions about how to level up.
**At this point I feel very proud of myself for my honesty and allowing myself to be vulnerable and my clever little levelling up metaphor.**
guy- (ultra condescending) This guy is not your ex.
me- Seriously? That’s your fucking take away from what I just said. Well, thanks. Not being a fucking idiot, I had already figured out that this guy isn’t my ex. But thanks anyway. And now let me abandon any attempt to provide you with personal context, since that was obviously a shitty idea, and just ask you, again, to please consider my simple, non-invasive suggestion for helping me out.
guy- No. You need to change yourself.
Amazingly, stupidly, I persisted for nearly ten minutes in this vein. And then, because I was so impossibly frustrated by this wall of indifference, I started to cry and flushed all my power down the shitter. Did I have any power in the first place? Maybe not. But then it was game over, for sure.
So then, with all this talk of the importance of having a voice, communicating your needs to people, letting those around you know when you’re having trouble, all of which have been argued passionately to me by friends and co-workers who know about my penchant for bottling emotions up and then imploding, I find myself at the next lesson, though I don’t know what it is yet. After you find that voice, and you realize you’re not being listened to anyway, what next?