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  • #367505
    Maria
    Participant

    Anita,

    I have asked some people around me to tell me how they perceive me and I am currently waiting for their answers. I think their answers will be very biased so I don’t really count on that.

    Back when I was dating him, was a period of my life in which I was super confident in myself and it was very obvious that I was. I would never say anything self-deprecating in public and speak up when I thought I was being walked all over. HOWEVER, I believed in the concept of “not giving time away to jerks”. Therefore, there were times he thought he needed to “save” me when people “were putting me down” (in my mind, actually mind themselves down because I didn’t feel concerned). How to explain this? Mainly, I used to only become aggressive with people when I thought they were worth it. Once, at work, a woman that seemingly felt so bad about her own person that she started confronting me because she felt I wasn’t giving enough attention to her presentation. She asked me what was wrong “I told her that her presentation was too long and not well organized”; she took it personally and started telling me how long she had to work on it when she was the one to ask me my opinion. So I just stared at her and I felt bad for her, she was pitiful to me. I had done nothing to her. It happened a couple of times and he felt the need to defend me, which I didn’t need at all.

    I am not like this anymore, he made it clear to me that the way I was was a weak to him, I have changed since and have become much more aggressive. I don’t know if it is a good thing but anyways. He always said that you could never get through this life without people fearing you otherwise they wouldn’t respect you. And it seems to be the case in many situations.

    But other than that, I have always been a very independent person, I left my parents home at age 19, changed continent, studied in a country where I knew no one, fell sick, almost died alone when hospitalized for a major chronic disease during months. And he knew that, that I was very independent and didn’t need him. I have been a lot into stoicism so I told him that if we meant to be we would be and otherwise it just wouldn’t, and that I couldn’t control others etc. So I don’t think he perceived me as having low self-worth. But you know what? I have read in a post long ago that narcissists or abusive men, I don’t remember like to break independent women because it makes them feel better about their ego, it is like a prize, the challenge and being able to minimize this type of women. I personally think, people perceive me as a strict, smart girl, arrogant comes back a lot unfortunately. A bit uptight lol.

    Keep you updated once they answer 🙂

     

    #367506
    Maria
    Participant

    @Peggy

    Hello Peggy,

    I am already working on affirmations every day, some days are better than others, some days, I can’t help it but feel worthless as I feel like he wouldn’t have left me if I was good enough. Which doesn’t make sense but I can’t help it.

    I will definitely go see a new therapist asap I can, from next week.

    I thank you so much for your kind words, I send you a lot of love! <3<3<3

    -M

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 4 days ago by Maria.
    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 4 days ago by Maria.
    #367510
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Maria:

    It will be a while before I am able to read and reply tour recent post to me (and anything you may add to  it), could be in as long as 19 hours from now.

    anita

    #367511
    Maria
    Participant

    **I forgot to say that I have always had a fear of confrontation (childhood abuse), that’s why I turned to Stoicism I guess, out of cowardice so I wouldn’t have to face my fears.

    I will wait! Answer whenever you want!

     

    #367524
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Maria:

    I read your recent posts and re-read your previous posts.

    Here is what you shared about your childhood: “I have always been bullied since I was a little child and all throughout high school, never understood why people did put so much energy in bringing me down.. ended up having fears about being abandoned and low self-esteem”. Later, you mentioned “childhood abuse”.

    About your young adulthood: you left your parents’ home soon after high school, at 19, “changed continent, studied in a country where I knew no one, fell sick, almost died alone when hospitalized for a major chronic disease during months”.

    About how you perceive yourself: “when I was dating him, was a period in my life in which I was super confident in myself and it was very obvious that I was… I was very independent… people perceive me as a strict, smart girl, arrogant comes back a lot”.

    About your beliefs and behavior regarding conflict and aggression: “I have been a lot into stoicism.. I believed in the concept of ‘not giving time away to jerks’.. I used to only be aggressive with people when I thought they were worth it. Once, at work, a woman that seemingly felt so bad about her own person that she started confronting me.. so I just stared at her and I felt bad for her, she was pitiful to me… I have changed since and have become much more aggressive… I have always had a fear of confrontation (childhood abuse), that’s why I turned to Stoicism I guess, out of cowardice so I wouldn’t have to face my fears”.

    About your ex’s beliefs and behavior regarding conflict and aggression: “there were times he thought he needed to ‘save’ me when people ‘were putting me down’.. he felt the need to defend me.. he made it clear to me that the way I was, was a weak to him.. He always said that you could never get through this life without people fearing you otherwise they wouldn’t respect you”.

    My understanding at this point: like you suggested yourself, you suffered childhood abuse/ bullying for more than a decade, and as a result you adopted a stoic mentality (practicing patience and endurance in difficult situations, remaining cool under pressure and serene in the most chaotic situations, riding the current of life with little or no  objection and rarely rocking the boat, not making waves).

    This stoic mentality is very useful in many situations,  but in social situations where assertiveness is required, the stoic must assert herself, otherwise she sends the message that she is weak and vulnerable to being mistreated/ used and abused. When you work  with people and it becomes your reputation in the workplace that you do not assert yourself when needed= that you are weak, then the common attitude in the workplace is disrespect or disregard for you, and some will mistreat you. Same is true in almost any other social setting, including one’s family, unfortunately.

    When the co-worker you mentioned became aggressive with you and your reaction was to “just stare at her”- you “felt bad for her, she was pitiful” to you, but some, if not all of your co-workers who witnessed the situation, probably felt bad for you and thought that you were pitiful.

    Your ex boyfriend understood that a stoic/ passive response to confrontation and aggression is indeed (in most cases) a disadvantage to the person at the receiving end of aggression. He was correct about that. But he took this correct understanding too far into wrong understanding when he told you that “you could never get through life without people fearing you, otherwise they wouldn’t respect you”. He believes in aggression, not in assertion. Aggression causes violence, wars and misery everywhere. Assertion is different: it corrects injustice. It communicates to others that you value yourself and that you can and will exert the power that is available to you, when needed, so to protect yourself and to do what is right and just.

    “when I was dating him, was a period in my life in which I was super confident in myself and it was very obvious that I was”- and it is indeed obvious to me and to others that a girl at 19 moving to a different continent, living independently and surviving a difficult illness is confident, is indeed independent and strong.. except that when you passively, or stoically respond to aggressors, you throw away that perception by others.

    You may feel strong (“super confident”) when you respond stoically to aggression, but when there is a way for you to be assertive in any one incident of aggression, and you choose not to, then it appears that you are weak even though your subjective feeling is that you are strong.

    You are welcome to respond and elaborate, if you wish, on any part of this post.

    anita

    #367528
    Maria
    Participant

    Hello Anita,

    As I told you earlier, I asked some people how they perceived me and they told me, mainly “timid”. Others, said I had a strong personality.

    I have always feared confrontation because of past physical abuse and emotional abuse.

    Indeed, I try not to confront anyone because, first I fear of being physically attacked and second because I get emotional very quickly and cry very quickly. I hate the thought of people seeing me as weak so I don’t engage in confrontation so I don’t cry in front of them.

    I guess that’s why people have been bullying me since I am little, you said “these things and more communicate low self esteem and being timid. In the minds of abusers, this means: someone I can take advantage of! Someone I can mistreat/ abuse and get away with it!”. He must have perceived me as very weak and therefore decided to take advantage of me. Yet, I am thankful, I think it could have been worse. But, you know what is funny? With him, I feared so much being disrespected, that I ALWAYS ALWAYS defended myself when he would do or say something disrespectful. I never let anything pass, and if I let it pass, I would always come back to him and tell him there was a problem. But, he definitely knew that I needed space and time to be assertive, we were working on it. I thought he was genuine back then and we were helping each other but I guess not lol. Now, I start to see his true colors, he definitely thought that he was better than me because of his skin color and would always make jokes about it, thought his family was more religious and more righteous than me. I once feared to tell him my mom asked me to buy her a red lip because he was so judgmental. And I believed him when he said he wasn’t at all judgmental. Every time I showed him girls with my complexion and told him I found them very pretty, once I even showed him a girl who, I think, looked like me, he always said of these girls that they were ugly LOL.

    The worst part is that I could never really fight this fight, I have known for YEARS that I am not assertive enough but I just have a blockage. Tried to work on it but nothing works. I now see that I just tried to cover this weakness with Stoicism because I just couldn’t tackle it.

    We went from a break-up to problems I thought I had buried haha. Do you think there are any ways I could become more assertive? Could therapy work or anything else? Self-help books, YT videos and tips on the internet never worked.

    Anita, do you ever ask questions or want to talk, maybe I could help with some of them. It feels weird to be helped and to give nothing in exchange.

    A 1000 thank yous.

    -M

    #367532
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Maria:

    You are welcome. The situation between you and I is not that I am the helper and you are the one being helped. It’s been all along you and I helping each other. When I read from you, analyze and respond, I connect not just with you, but with myself- with my own feelings, my own issues. So, let’s continue to help each other. When I have questions for you, I will ask. Thank you for offering!

    He told you that he wasn’t judgmental and yet, of course, he was/ is. Like so many people all over the world, he judges a darker skin to indicate human inferiority. This untrue judgment has brought so much pain to so many.

    Notice, in the future, when a person expresses to you judgment of other people, he/ she judges you in the same way and for the sane things for which he judges others.

    “Do you think there are any ways I could become more assertive? Could therapy work or anything else? Self-help books, YT videos and tips on the internet never worked”-

    – yes, there are ways to become more assertive. And you already practiced being assertive; you have some experience behaving assertively. Even in your most recent post, you told me that you feel weird being helped and not giving help in return- that’s you asserting yourself with me, telling me how you honestly feel, a feeling that you would like to change,  and suggesting a way to change it.

    The way to become more assertive is to notice all the ways you are already assertive, then identify circumstances that are most challenging, those situations that make you feel “fear of being physically attacked”, and/ or “emotional very quickly and cry very quickly”, and figure out a plan to deal with each such circumstance.

    When you identify the next such circumstance, let me know what it is, and together we can come up with a plan to assert yourself in that circumstance,  and execute that plan step by step. Key is to come up with small, doable steps that will not overwhelm you.

    anita

    #367575
    Maria
    Participant

    Hello Anita,

    I hope you’re doing well?

    Update:

    -I have checked a lot of information lately and it seems like the friend that blocked me was plainly manipulative, she couldn’t get her way so she just threw me lol. I once saw a msg from my ex’s ex and she was lecturing him and telling him he was narcissistic (she’s a therapist). I checked today, and INDEED he filled most of the requisites. I had suspected a lot but at the time, I thought she was just angry and said nonsense! That’s crazy! I was given such a blunt proof yet I didn’t believe it. Love surely is blind.

    These are some circumstances you asked me to think about, in which I haven’t been assertive, which we could create a plan for:

    -When the co-worker harassed me because I didn’t focus on her presentation (I didn’t want to cry and was to slow to react and see it was disrespect, I have a hard time identifying when people are being direspectul)

    -Bullies during my childhood (fear of being physically attacked and self-hate)

    -A guy at a bakery who served everyone with a tong and then saved me with his bare hands (STILL ANNOYED about that time), also made jokes about me being bad at maths because I couldn’t make the calculation for the final price (I didn’t want to ask him to change the articles he was handing to me for fear of appearing arrogant when he was definitely the one being rude)

     

    I am also facing a little of a situation right now:

    -I have this friend A, I have been friends with her since we’re children, she once was my best friend, in high school, she betrayed me and told another friend B that I thought she was fake. The other friend B came with her A and confronted me and she A told to my face that indeed I had said that. From that point forward, I lost the trust I had for friends. Since, they are best friends, I don’t speak to the other girl B anymore and I still am friend with the friend A who betrayed me. I wouldn’t tell her my secrets. Thing is, I have always perceived this friend as a sister, even though she was often there when I was bullied and never tried to defend me or anything. I am very loyal. We are still friends and last year I went to visit her to her place. However, every year we come back for holidays in our home country and she always makes sure not to see me. I mean she comes with all sorts of excuses, that she is sick etc. It’s true that she is sick but I often see her posting pictures with other friends. Yet, when I ask her to come home, she says yes and then doesn’t come and gives me an excuse. This has been going on for a long time. I keep giving and giving and sense as if I am not receiving in return, she talks to me when I talk to her, otherwise she doesn’t. Last time, I asked her if she would travel with me to go pick my master’s degree diploma and she said she would ask her dad and let me know… I truly feel as if she doesn’t like to spend time with me.

    I was wondering if I should be assertive and tell her how I feel about the situation or if I should just give up on her because friendships can’t be forced and if she wanted to spend time with me, I wouldn’t have to do all of this. I don’t know if I am being passive aggressive and trying to avoid confrontation or if it is really not worth it and I should once for all cut ties? Any opinion?

    Also, one of the acquaintances I told about my break-up to, never contacted me since I told her to ask if I was feeling ok, I felt kind of hurt, normally I would just brush it and tell my self they don’t care about me and keep the pain in my heart but today I sent her a msg and said: “hey, I hope you’re doing ok. I feel hurt that you haven’t asked how I feel since last time knowing that I am going through a break-up. In my head, it looks like you don’t care. I wish you had asked”. I knew this was assertive but I have been feeling bad for doing so. Do you think it was a good idea? I feel like I always have to chase after my acquaintances (I wouldn’t call them friends), what’s wrong with me?

    -Maria

    thank youuu

    #367583
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Maria:

    I am well, thank you. Your friend who is a therapist told your ex boyfriend that he was narcissistic, based on his behavior toward you. I wonder what diagnosis she would have offered for herself, based on her behavior: blocking you because you suffer from an immune disease that would have endangered your life if you attended her event.

    Let’s look at what you brought up as situations where you were not assertive, situations where an assertive plan could help:

    1. The co-worker you mentioned before harassed you because you didn’t focus on her presentation that was “too long and not well organized”. I will need detail here, what was the circumstance: who was in the office, who said what first, what was said next, the objective details, no interpretations of what happened; think of it as showing me a video + audio of what happened.

    2. Being bullied during your childhood- again, I will need details of one such incidence: the circumstances, who said or did what first, what happened next, the objective details only.

    3. A guy at the bakery served everyone using a tong, but served you with his bare hands, and then made fun of you as being bad at math following you calculating the final price of the baked good you purchased- make a formal and detailed complaint and submit it to the bakery manager.

    4. You told A, a childhood friend and best friend in high school that B, another friend, was fake. A then betrayed your trust in her And told B what you said. The two of them confronted you about it. You are no longer friends with , but you are still friends with A. A avoids seeing you while she sees other friends, and you “truly feel as if she doesn’t like to spend time with” you.

    “I was wondering if I should be assertive and tell her how I feel about the situation or if I should just give up on her because friendships can’t be forced.”- she doesn’t want to spend time with you, so don’t chase her to spend time with you. Don’t chase anyone. Like you wrote, friendships can’t be forced. You can’t force anyone to like you any more than I can force anyone to like me. This example is not fitting learning to be assertive because all you need to do is …stop chasing her.

    One more thing: best not to gossip, meaning, if you think that B is fake, tell this to B, if you want to, but not to A, or to anyone who knows B, or who is likely to get to know B.  When you talk to friend A about friend B, don’t say anything to A that you wouldn’t say if B was present.

    5. Regarding the Acquaintance to whom you shared about your breakup, the one who never contacted you since, if she was a close acquaintance, then your message to her was appropriately assertive, as I see it.

    Interesting: did you notice I used the word “chase” above? That was before I read the last sentence of your post: “I feel like I always have to chase after my acquaintances.. what’s wrong with me?”

    – I am thinking that you are chasing people because otherwise you will be alone, that the only way to get a person’s time and attention is to chase them. What do you think?

    anita

    #367584
    Maria
    Participant

    Anita,

    Maybe I wasn’t clear enough, his ex was a therapist, no my ex friend, once I saw his notifications and she told him that, right when they were breaking up.

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 2 days ago by Maria.
    #367586
    Maria
    Participant

    I think that indeed, when I don’t reach out to people, they don’t either so I would definitely be alone if I stop. I don’t want to be alone but I don’t want to disrespect myself either.

    I see you I have lot of homework now! Will think about it and will probably take some days to answer.

    See you. Thank you again.

    Wish you well.

    #367590
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Maria:

    You are welcome. Thank you for wishing me well, and I wish you well in return.

    I read your correction: his ex was a therapist, not your friend. I know that I will not be able to attend to what you referred to as homework before tomorrow anyway, so please do take all the time that you need.

    anita

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