I have a friend, and most people think she’s a lovely person. It can be hard to be honest about someone who is nice to most people, most of the time. But sometimes she’s not so nice to me. Generally speaking I have to admit that she’s very kind, caring, compassionate and understanding to the people she meets. She tries to encourage people, to help them and support them whenever she can, and although she is a quieter person, she does have a lot of close and trusted friends.
She’s had some rocky times in the past when people haven’t treated her too kindly, but for the most part she’ll admit that she does get her fair share of compliments. She’s known as intelligent and good at her work, she’s been noted for her kindness, and some people have called her slim, pretty or even beautiful. In some ways she’s pretty ‘ordinary’ and maybe some people overlook her, but she would admit that there are a fair few people who think well of her.
She sounds like a lovely person, doesn’t she? The kind of person I ought to be glad I have in my life.
The thing is, we’re pretty close. And sometimes sadly we’re most unkind to the people who are closest to us.
Sometimes she can be really encouraging to me too, like she is to all of her other friends. But on other days, when she’s maybe feeling a bit insecure about herself she’ll let me know it.
Today, she caught sight of me standing in a queue for lunch. She whispered to me that I looked a bit fat, that I’d put on weight. I tugged at my top and my clothes and tried to look at my reflection but it made me feel bad to see myself after hearing that remark even if nobody else heard what she said.
I had been in a fairly good mood before that, and even had some brief chats with people around me, but at that point I lost confidence and lowered my head as I waited for my lunch to be served. Why was I eating that? It’s true, I haven’t exercised for a few days, or maybe even a week. I worried about whether other people would think I looked fat as well and I wanted to hide, to not be seen, I had felt alright and slim this morning but now I just felt a bit down on myself. I never used to have this problem, I always was the slim one. But now, what were people thinking of me? That I had put on loads of weight, or even a bit? I cringed to think that people might be thinking that way about me.
I don’t know why she chose to focus on my appearance that way when she could have said something nice like she does to everyone else. What’s so different about me? She’s called me ‘ugly’ in the past. And I’ve been left feeling like I was ‘gross’ or horrible. Why would she do that? And why would I go on thinking those negative things about myself? Why would someone who receives compliments from others, someone who is genuinely kind, caring and loving to everyone else be unkind to me? Why do I let her?
I suppose that’s what can happen when you’re close to someone. And the thing is the words may have come from somewhere, may have come from her past and her insecurities because people used to treat her badly, but now that she is seen as lovely, caring, kind and intelligent, why should she be unkind to me, even if it is an ‘off day’, even if those days are fewer and farther between nowadays?
What would you do if you had a ‘friend’ like that? What do you think I should do? I wonder if some of you might be thinking that it’s all well and good for her to be nice to everyone else, and she may be a really nice person, but why single me out? It’s a good question. You’d probably tell me to ‘ditch’ her, to let bad influences out of my life because I deserve better.
But I wonder if you really understand how difficult that can be? To let go of someone so close to you even if they do cause you hurt. Do any of you have a ‘friend’ like this in your life?
I need to give her credit though that she’s growing in self awareness as to how she sometimes talks to me. She has a lot of issues from her past because she was verbally abused – a lot. I’m trying to help her realise that she didn’t deserve it, she was young, no one whatever their age or stage in life, their appearance or any other thing deserves to be verbally abused.
She gets that to a point which is why she’s so kind, caring and loving to everyone else. But there are days when she doesn’t extend that same kindness to me. You think it would be easy just to let her go, to cut her out of my life? Not really, we’ve been in each other’s lives literally forever, it’s easier said than done!
I can’t cut her out, that would be impossible. But I can try to educate her, to help her think about the ‘snap’ judgement words she sometimes uses about me, to help her to reflect on what impact this can have on my confidence, self esteem and worth. It might take time but I think we’ve been making progress. She has been learning to be kinder to me, and maybe she’ll be as kind to me as she is to everyone else someday.
You still think I should cut her out of my life? I can’t. She’s me.
Can anyone else relate to negative self-talk? If so, what do you do to overcome it? Let’s learn to be ‘our own best friends’. x