Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A Much-Needed Message to the Person I Invalidated Today

I invalidated you today. I didn't say it out loud to you, but I expressed to other people who were equally upset by your actions that I did not take your feelings seriously, and that I did not accept your choices. I knew what I was doing, and I invalidated you because I was angry with you.

But when I think about it, this isn't about you. If I really step back, I can see that it's not your actions that upset me. It's that I didn't feel entitled to take those actions myself.

I don't invalidate your long commute. I don't. Your commute sucks, and the fact that my commute was worse doesn't make yours suck any less. And you have a right to complain about it all you want. What hurts me is that I *didn't* get to complain about mine. What hurts me is that when I was running late, I was scared. I was mortified. I was shaking and ready to throw up in the car because I was afraid I'd be fired. And you come in late every day and act as if it's okay because you have the long commute. So I was mad at you. So I invalidated you. So I told everyone that my commute was a million times worse than yours and I did it. And I feel bad about that. But at the same time, I don't feel bad. It wasn't about you. It was about me. It was about me never getting the attention or sympathy or validation that you're comfortable demanding about your commute, that I never was. So I'm getting it now, by invalidating you, when I never got it before. In truth, it's not about you. I would never want to live in a world where people like you have to suck it up and deal. I'm angry because you demand validation in a way that I never did in when I was in your situation. And I wish I had.

And when you made a choice to demand exactly what you wanted, what you wouldn't settle for, and walk away when you didn't get what you wanted. And when I was in your shoes, I didn't feel so entitled. I wish I had, but I didn't. And that's why I was angry at you today. That's why I said good riddance. That's why I didn't feel bad for you not being able to stay in an unacceptable situation. Because it was unacceptable to me as well, but I did stay. And I'm not saying I'm a better person than you because I stayed - I'm angry at you because I wish I were more like you. I wish I felt as entitled as you did to demand exactly what I wanted and be out the door when I didn't get it. It's not about you. For the record, I don't think you should have sucked it up it taken what was unacceptable to you. I don't. I'm angry because when I was in your position, I didn't feel like I had a choice. I felt trapped. I was walking on eggshells and my quality of life sucked and I didn't feel that I had the grounds to demand what I wanted. I'm angry because seeing your actions - your day-to-day lateness that we're all supposed to accept because of your commute, your laid-back attitude during a time when people like myself would be in good-impression, walking-on-eggshells mode, and your choice to insist on exactly what you wanted or else you'd be gone - I'm reminded of the hell that I went through when I was in your position, and I'm reminded that I didn't have to do what I did. I could have demanded sympathy. I could have acted more like myself from the start. I could have stated what was acceptable and unacceptable to me, and not accepted anything less. But I didn't. I instead went through hell.

And perhaps it felt good to believe that I didn't have a choice in the matter. Perhaps I didn't want to think back and realize that I had choices, that I could have said no. And seeing you do those things that I wish I had done, seeing you make those choices that I wish I had made - or at least felt I had the option to make - it makes me angry. And I think my instinct was to invalidate your feelings and your choices and your attitude and your entitlement because you forced me to reflect on my own choices and realize that I'm not that really that demanding, entitled person that I want to be, that I did accept the unacceptable, and I didn't have to. I could have been like you. And that's what makes me angry at you - you're a reminder of everything that I could be and everything that I could have done. And I will probably still feel angry at you when we talk about this again tomorrow. And the next day. And however long it is before I never see you again.

But for the record, your choices are valid.

And when I start fresh, I'll try to be more like you.

Thanks for helping me understand one of the roots of invalidation.

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