Approximately a month ago, I experienced a major life change. I had nothing to do with it, no control over it. It wasn’t about me at all. It was just something that happened. But as a result, my life has suddenly become so much better.
Basically, a person who I was regularly required to spend a significant amount of time with removed herself from my immediate presence. And honestly, it’s as though I had been living under a dark cloud and it just went away.
The thing is, this girl isn’t a bad person. In a lot of ways, she is very nice, and I know her heart is in the right place. We got along fine, for the most part. But she is unpredictably moody, which is exhausting to have to continually tip-toe around. She is also probably one of the most negative people I have ever met, although I’m sure she’d be shocked to hear that. I’m sure she’d describe herself as realistic or something to that effect.
What I hadn’t realized was how much she was affecting me. I knew she frustrated me sometimes. Sometimes more than sometimes. But I guess I was used to that. I think you can get used to almost anything, really. People are pretty adaptable. It was only her leaving that made it clear to me how much she was draining my energy and my ability to stay positive.
That sounds hippy dippy, but I think most people with even a moderate amount of sensitivity pick up on the moods of the people around them. And because her moods were so unpredictable and her negativity so cutting, I was in a constant state of anticipatory tension. This was mental, but I think it was also physical. The place between my shoulder blades was always flexed; my teeth were always clenched; there was a minor headache always waiting behind my left eye.
And then she was gone. And suddenly everything in me has relaxed. Nothing else in my life has changed. I am still just as busy with just as many things that need to be done right now. But whereas before those things were threatening to overwhelm me, it all seems manageable again. I’ve returned to the confidence I used to have, the confidence that I had lost, that a) I am capable and b) everything is going to be ok.
I am happy again, even though I don’t think I had realized how unhappy I was. I am so grateful that this happened.
At the same time, the implications of it concern me because there will always be people like this around. I happen to have been lucky that she just went away, but that’s hardly something I can hope for every time I meet someone similar. I suppose another option is to just avoid people like this altogether, but I think there are two problems with that. 1) It’s not realistic. 2) Sometimes it takes a long time to recognize these people. They often have a lot of great qualities (most people do, I think) and it’s only over time that they gradually beat down your spirit.
I think the best and most realistic option is to not give people that kind of power over you. That is the part of this situation that is unquestionably my own fault. But I’m not sure how to avoid giving people that power, because I don’t think I’m aware I’m doing it in the first place. How do you stop doing something when you don’t know you’re doing it?