This is going to be a post about “things I wish someone had told me a decade ago.” (Or maybe they did and I just wasn’t ready to hear it yet. Always possible.)
One of the results of growing up in a dysfunctional dynamic is that it is possible to become used to the idea of being the problem. Of being the one who is selfish. Or needy. Or has too many emotions. The one who is causing all these problems and without whom, everyone else would be fine.
And that’s bullshit.
One of the things the psychodrama facilitator said to the group was that she doesn’t trust anyone who at any given point, couldn’t articulate three things that are bothering them that they would want to work on.
Meaning, everyone has baggage. Everyone has shit. Anyone who is trying to convince you that you are the problem for actively working on your issues (because they don’t have any issues to work through) is bullshitting you. And probably themselves.
They are either so oblivious to the way they walk in the world that they are ignorant of their own baggage (which means they have a lot of unchecked privilege.) Or, they opened the box once, looked inside, said fuck that shit, and closed it. And now you’re reminding them of what they saw in the box and they don’t like that. So they’re trying to silence and shame you into being as deep in denial as they are.
I have found that I tend to gravitate toward people who have mental health issues as friends and partners. At first I thought it was because they could get me on a deeper level. And that’s part of it. We have similar struggles. But now I’m realizing there is another piece. It means they know what their shit is, where it is, and are working on it. That makes them safe for me to be around.
I grew up in a culture of denial. Spending too much time around anyone who is not consciously working on their issues is a fast track to falling back into old habits and destructive patterns without being aware of it.
For so long, I felt grateful that anyone would even be with me. Me, with all my issues. Me, with all my baggage.
So grateful that I didn’t look too closely at who was interested or why. I just liked that anyone was.
But now I realize that is the wrong way to think about it.
What I am doing is healthier than what they are doing.
I’m aware of my issues. I’m working on them. I’m open about them. I may not have a complete picture of every land mine, but I can hand someone the partially finished map I’m drafting as a guide for dealing with me.
The person who claims to have all their shit together? They either haven’t a clue where those land mines are or they just close their eyes and hope for the best.
I shouldn’t have been grateful for anyone who would put up with me.
I should have been skeptical of anyone who framed our relationship in such a way that I was the problem. The one and only problem. Me, with my issues. Me, with my baggage. Me, with my all my various emotions. Always me. Never them.
If you are working on your shit, whatever that looks like, that is what’s healthy.
Our culture stigmatizes mental health issues so much that the big lie is that most people don’t have them.
But everyone has baggage. Everyone has issues. Everyone. Full stop.
Beware of anyone who tells you differently, and anyone who can’t articulate any area in which they struggle.
If you’re working on your shit, you’re ahead of the curve. People should be grateful to be with someone as introspective, honest, and emotionally intelligent as you.
Don’t tell yourself anything different. That’s the shame and denial talking. You’ve got this.