I’m talking with a friend who has worked a lot on assertiveness and boundary setting over the years. It’s been an awfully long time since when she started working on it. Like a lot of progress, it hasn’t been steady improvement. It hasn’t been linear. Instead, there have been lots of stops and starts. Advances and setbacks. But she’s finally starting to get somewhere. I can hear the change in the way she talks about herself.
True to form, some of us are extremely proud of her and cheering her on as she pursues more healthy patterns in her interpersonal relationships. But other people who know her are really unhappy.
She recounts some of the play by play to me. Talks about friends of hers who are upset about the changes in her. I know these people. I’m not terribly close to them — for a reason. These tend to be selfish actors that I know through others — friends of friends. Colorful, entertaining. But selfish and manipulative. No one I could ever personally trust.
But she did. She was close to them. And in that closeness, she was oblivious to the ways they were mistreating her. Others would point it out occasionally, but she would argue. She couldn’t see it.
But now she’s started to stick up for herself, and predictably these selfish actors are upset.
“It’s so true, what you said,” she tells me. “People really do seem alike when you’re doing everything they want you to.”
It’s been heartbreaking for her to realize who doesn’t have her best interests at heart. But it’s valuable knowledge. And she’s moving forward.
“I’m so proud of you,” I tell her. Because I am.
And as we continue to talk, she says a lot of things some of us have been trying to tell her for years. But she wasn’t ready to hear it.
Now it’s coming out of her mouth. She’s saying it herself.
It makes me so hopeful for her.