I’m a fun person, at least I like to think so. I love to laugh and joke and drink wine. What I am not, as I’ve been told, a great communicator. Sure, I can get my thoughts out, rambling along most times, but what I wasn’t doing was making the other person in the conversation feel as though their thoughts mattered. And to be honest, I’m horrified to realize that I am 40 and it has only now been pointed out to me.
What’s even more distressing is that I didn’t even realize I was invalidating others. It was so ingrained in me I was doing it subconsciously. I could not figure out what the hell was going on when my friend would get so pissed at me and we’d go back and forth for hours and I just could not figure out what I was doing wrong. They kept saying I was invalidating them and it was hurtful and dismissive. Finally, after a particularly bad back and forth, I decided to look up this validation stuff. Crap. I’m a loser.
I read through the documents I found on the topic and it was me, word for word. I didn’t know what to do, what to say except for that I am sorry. But the biggest thing I learned reading those journals is that I had been invalidated my entire life by those that I needed it from most. I just never realized it. It was normal life. Imagine learning that. It knocked me down for a couple days while I processed it. Something so simple and it explained so much.
It described what was completely missing from my personality. But damn if it didn’t also explain what made up my personality and a huge part of that is my defensive nature. Always feeling attacked or unworthy. That alone is a blog in itself, but this realization did break down a bit of my wall.
Was this easy? Hell no, I came to this realization kicking and screaming and to my friend’s credit they stood by me the entire time. I’m a bit stubborn, took me a bit. Once I figured it out, I apologized profusely and began to change how I responded. My defenses went down a bit, which brought theirs down and holy hell, we could communicate and not get as frustrated with each other.
Do I slip up still? Yes, of course I do. It’s not an overnight thing but I feel I have come a good distance. I still have far to go, and I am still a bit defensive, but 40 years of feeling invalidated will do that to a person and I only ask for more patience and understanding. I will get to where I need to be sooner than later.
But in the meantime, I’m forever grateful to my friend. Thank you.