The Rest of the Way, Part Four: Putting On Grown-Up Clothes

Recently I’ve begun to tell myself something that helps to quell some lingering anxiety and it’s this:

If someone has a problem with me, they can put on their grown-up clothes and come talk to me about it.

One of the things my anxiety does to me is get me thinking people are wanting to land on me but holding back waiting for the right moment. In reality, I’m over-thinking crap I shouldn’t be and that unless someone is madly in love with me or obsessed with me, they’re not going to think about me very much.

Now the roots of this date back to my time in call-center Hell. There I was mostly ignored until I did something wrong or when some customer decided to grind an axe on my back and give me a low rating. Then it was off the races and I felt like I was always looking over my shoulder. But that rat-race in my mind ended six years ago after being told I should have known better when I made a simple mistake that anyone could have made when I realized this about people in general and myself:

Everyone else is just as full of shit as I am sometimes, but I’m not a bad person either.

What this means is that no one has all the answers all the time even if they act they do or say they do. I used to think if I made a mistake that it made me the worst person in the world and it wiped all the good things I’d ever done. I thought if I could beat the crap out of myself first then no one else would do that to me. In reality, if someone mouthed off at me five minutes after they were done, they’d forgotten what they’d said to me in the first place.

I know I’ve been talking about a lot of negative shit here these past few days but this has been a large part of the work I’ve been doing on myself over the last few years. As an anxious over-thinker, I internalized way too much bullshit like this and have been working to extricate it from my psyche ever since. And one big thought is that I don’t need to sit around and clench my hands in nervous anticipation thinking someone is gearing up to make my life miserable. If someone is hesitating to come to me with some problem, that’s on them.

Now I’m not good at dealing with people or coming at them with something. And I’m absolutely terrible at asking for help. But I hope to overcome this to some small degree someday. But at the same time, if someone does have a problem with something I’m doing, they can come and talk to me about it. I have vowed to own my shit and blame no one else for my mistakes. All I want is to be given an opportunity to know what I did wrong and to fix it as much as possible.

Yesterday I talked about misdirected anger and one way this manifests is by passive-aggressive behavior. This is when someone hints at something then gets mad at you when you don’t put the rest of the pieces together even though you don’t have all the information you need. People who do this are freaking idiots at best and assholes at worst, including myself. With me, it was a fear of putting what I needed to on the table and getting blasted for it. This goes back to not being good at asking for help or stating what I want or need very well.

So I’m working on putting on my grown-up clothes (nothing stained or torn as my mother would advise me to wear) and doing my best to state my needs or ask the questions I need to. In turn, I’m also telling myself when I get anxious about someone lying in wait to land on me (when they’re definitely not doing that) is to tell myself that if someone does have a problem with me, they can put on their clean grown-up clothes and come talk to me about that. I’ll listen and take ownership of any mistakes I make.

But under no circumstances is it justified to make people think they have to be mind-readers when telepathy is still confined to the realm of science-fiction. And if someone does come right out and tell you what they want, need, or give you the information you need, don’t blast them for it. This ties back to yesterday’s piece of advice not to make someone your personal ass-cream. Clean clothes and all the words needed will do just fine. Or as my dad would say, “Grow the fuck up.”

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