I cried today.
In a class on managing stress in relationships we did an activity where we had to list the 10 people we spend the most time with and whether they were draining or energizing. On my list most of the people were energizing, but those were the people that I didn’t see as often. The people that I saw the most were draining.
I mentioned that those draining people were mostly family members. I love my family to death, I really do, but they mostly have a draining effect on me. And my small group asked me more questions which led me to explain my family situation and how my parents divorced messily and how I tend to be the one that listens to the worries and stresses. I also explained how for the majority of my life I’ve been the family punching bag (not literally).
We all tease each other and fight, but there are periods of my life where I’ve taken verbal abuse from family members that no one should ever have to deal with. My brother, who I now love and adore, made my life hell when I was in middle school. He ruined any shred of happiness with his constant teasing and mean comments. Fortunately he grew out of it in high school and I know he did it because he recieved that and worse at school, but he started a pattern in my life where I turned to food for comfort. I was living in a new town with no friends yet and I would come home every day just to be tortured by his words. Food was easy, it was there, it made things feel better. That started it, but it only lasted 2 or 3 years.
Eventually my brother grew out of that and we became good friends. But there was always someone else willing to step into that role after he dropped it. My father and another brother did their best to cut me down through high school. I remember high school as a pretty happy time when I look back even though I struggled with depression then. After my first year I made friends and started getting involved and enjoyed life even though I was obese and still plagued with crap at home. Though none of my friends or kids at school ever teased me, most days I went home to be teased about being fat, never having a boyfriend, being ugly, etc. It sucked. My dad was also always there as a constant negative. He had a terrible temper and cursed at me a lot but the worst thing he ever did was spit in my face. Mostly, the words did the job to cut me down to the ground.
When we were talking in class Mimi, the instructor, said, “Negativity will always bring us down, whether we create it or others do.” How true that is. I was always under a cloud of negativity when I lived at home because the people around me were so negative. Even this last year of living at home with my little brother Charles was a terrible experience because he was so negative (which luckily he seems to be coming out of!). When you are around negative people it makes you want to be negative too, no matter how much you would rather not.
How to deal with draining people
In the class we talked about how to deal with these negative, draining people. Basically you have two options.
1. Talk to them about what they do that is negative or drains you so they can change.
2. Cut them out of your life.
Harder said than done, but I’ve done both. For example, with my dad I tried to build a relationship with him after he left my family but he was constantly negative about my mom, about us kids, about everything. He complained, he focused on himself, he never cared to be nurturing to me but expected me to care about him. I tried and tried, even going to therapy with him once, but it never changed. I asked him to talk about other things or try to leave my mom and the bad things out of the conversation. It never worked so I had to cut him out of my life. I no longer talk to him or want to talk to him.
Sometimes the decision to cut someone out is hard. Sometimes it is impossible. But sometimes it is the right thing to do. Negative people will always drain you and sometimes you just have to find distance from that or cut them out entirely. It’s good to take stock of the people you surround yourself with. Ask do they drain you? Do they energize you? I want to be happy and live with positivity, not be drained and negative. I want to surround myself with positive energizing people, so I try to do that with my friends. Do you?
Talking about all of that in class made me cry. These aren’t new issues for me. I’ve dealt with them for several year and have resolved them even before coming here. But you can only discuss past painful things with so much detachment. Today just explaining the past things in my life made me cry. I have a reputation of being a happy-go-lucky girl because I am in fact happy the majority of the time. People always say they love my attitude or my perspective or my happy nature. I appreciate that so much, but it hasn’t always been this way. I’ve suffered through a lot of bad experiences to cultivate this outlook on life. Each pain and struggle I went through hurt, and sometimes still hurts, but I would never wish it away because it has made me the person that I am. And I really, really like who I am.
Alright, therapy is over kids. Now for the good stuff.
Meals & Moves
Not pictured: veggie sausage, slice of wheat bread, pancake with maple syrup at breakfast (started eating before I could take a picture) and sugar plum parfait for dessert at dinner (technical difficulties)
70 minutes hiking, roughly 2 miles (1 mile uphill)
1 hour lower body conditioning class
1 mile walked outside on track
First time hiking in Vermont!! The hike was great! I can’t wait to do more!