Are You A Safe Person?

I originally wrote this post in 2014 but thought it was a good time to bring it up again.

I had an interesting conversation last night with a friend of mine who seems to feel another friend we have in common (though I haven’t seen her for a few years) is “stuck” in her marriage. He went on to tell me how he basically interrogates her to see if she will tell the truth because he feels all she does is lie about her situation. This struck a nerve with me and catapulted me into my own little tirade. Well, the tirade was in my mind but I tried to explain my point of view as calmly as I could, but there was certainly a burr under my saddle and I was bucking inside.

My first question was, “why do you feel the need to interrogate her?” to which he responded, “Because she lies”.

Oh here we go!  

Of course she lies! Why in the world would she ever want to open up to someone who only points out the problems in her relationship? Why would she tell you the truth of what is going on, only to have you give her that, “I told you so” attitude? Why would she tell the truth only to open herself up to your disappointment? He made the point that he knows she is not happy and she just won’t admit it. Well…Of course she won’t!

Here’s is my experience as a “flaming” codependent:

I made some stupid choices in my life and for stupid reasons. They were my reality at the time so I will cut myself some slack there. However, I already knew I made the wrong choice and I was beating myself up inside, all on my own. I didn’t need any help there. I didn’t need to hear what others thought. I suffered from my own guilt, shame and disappointment; I didn’t need anyone else’s. Do you know what it does to a person struggling with codependency and people-pleasing issues to hear that someone is disappointed in them or how they are handling things? Why, oh why, do you think we need your opinion about our lives? We know it sucks! We know it’s unhealthy! We know, we know, WE KNOW!

I personally, suffered from pride. I didn’t want anyone to know what was going on in my relationships. I wanted to be seen as a woman who could handle life and everything that was thrown at her. I wanted people to see that I had it all together. I didn’t want them to see the pain in my heart or the guilt and shame I suffered from the choices I had made. I didn’t want to acknowledge my own disappointments and I certainly didn’t want to hear yours. I KNOW MY LIFE WAS A WRECK!

Of course I lied about it! Of course I avoided people because I didn’t want to see their disappointment in me and my choices! Of course I suffered alone! That is what I did! It has been my experience in dealing with other codependents that this is not uncommon, so I feel safe enough to say, she may feel the same way. I tried to explain this all to him as best I could without all the anger and frustration that I felt inside, not only for myself as someone who wants to be understood, but for her as well.

I offered the suggestion that the next time he sees her and can see that she is not happy, don’t ask her questions. I told him to tell her, he can sense something is wrong and that if she ever wants to talk, that he would be there to sit and listen. LISTEN being the operative word. Don’t offer your opinion. Don’t tell her what to do. Don’t judge her and rub it in her face that you know she is unhappy. All that stuff just pours salt in an already deeply open wound.

I am going to generalize this statement as I feel my past dealings with other codependents allows me to: We need to feel safe to open up to someone! As I stated previously, we are already suffering from pain and disappointment in ourselves, we don’t need it from others!

If you feel someone is struggling and unhappy in their relationship/life, be the safe person they can open up to. All you need to do is reinforce that you are there whenever they are ready to talk. Be willing to LISTEN and not fix. Be gentle and encouraging in your words. It may take a while but they may eventually open up to you if you make it safe for them to do so.

9 replies »

  1. While I agree that it’s important to encourage someone to open up in a non judgemental environment, there comes a time when the one opening up only wants someone to tell them what they want to hear. While I don’t agree that he should try to fix her problems, I think perhaps her motives should be weighed. I’ve been the one who repeatedly tries to be non judgemental many times but if the same problems continue to come up it becomes less about making a safe environment for the one venting and more along the lines of “if you don’t like it then change it and stop talking about it.”
    I might be biased though my other person I deal with is bpd and I only seem to be there to build her up when she’s feeling depressed, worthless, hurt, and overwhelmed. It’s like an overused balm. After awhile -if someone happens to lie often- you can’t help but second guess everything as bullshit or histrionics. If this is the case though then perhaps a separation is in order because no one ends up happy in this scenario. Having a friend that is always in an emotional battle is exhausting.
    I agree if she’s having a bad time then maybe he should either keep quiet and let her deal with it on her own time or find other people to surround himself with. There are those that go through life trying to fix other people and continuously point out how others could do better. Those people are annoying.
    It takes a lot of effort to actually be a friend. Personally it’s more effort than I have to spare. Some of us have friends and some of us don’t. I think by the time we’re adults we can tell what kind of person we are. If we can’t say anything good then we shouldn’t even open our mouths.
    Like you said, I’m going through my own drama and I know there are things I should or shouldn’t be doing, we don’t need someone to come in and give advice that we never specifically ask for.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for you insight Elias! I couldn’t agree more about emotionally draining people. There are some people that are just stuck and really don’t want to find a way out, they just want to vent. Those are not the type of people I’m referring to in this post though. I’m referring to those who don’t vent often and keep it inside because of shame and guilt. The ones that are hurting and would really like things to change but don’t know where to start or who they can talk to.

    “Having a friend that is always in an emotional battle is exhausting.” Yes it is! I have listened to people like this that never try to do anything different and I eventually have to pull away because it is too exhausting. When conversations with others start leaving me drained, I need to step back and re-examine my boundaries or I will be right in there complaining about everything and that is not what I want my life to look like. Thank you for the reminder!

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  3. Hi, first off, I love your blog and your writing. I kind of feel though that I needed all those outside people telling me I was wrong, because I really could not admit to myself that I was. Oh, I knew my life was a mess, but I thought it was down to me, not him.How could ‘helping a weak and injured man recover through my perfect love’ (which was my idea of what was going on), be wrong? OK, he’d pushed me about a bit, but he hadn’t put me in hospital, he hadn’t broken any bones (only his own when I ducked and he hit a door). It took the persistent urging of the Police to finally get me out: and it was only WAAAAY later that I understood that you can be codependent whilst never having been dependent on another person in your life (and that this is, in fact, a symptom).

    I would add, though, that I always told people the truth, never lied about what he did. I don’t know why – partially by the time the violence had become routine, I’d already told so many friends (or he had, trying to get me back) it didn’t matter if the world knew.

    There were many people who were nonjudgmentally supportive, and of course I value them. But I also really value those who brutally told me what they thought. And sometimes, all that stopped me going back to him was the thought of facing up to those people xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for reading and commenting! And thank you for sharing a little of you story with me! I agree that we need to be honest with others but if they are not ready to open up, our words will fall on deaf ears and possibly make them defensive and pull away from us. The difference in your story is that it sounds like you were already open and honest in letting others know what your relationship was like. That is a truly wonderful thing when you can do it. You were open and speaking of it already which allowed others to speak into your life. For me, I could not let other’s know because of fear. It was only when I finally met others who were going through or had been through the same kind of things was I comfortable enough to open up. There is a lot of healing that happens when we can do this. It’s hard when we get stuck in our heads that the world will judge us. However, once we learn that it doesn’t matter if they judge us, we get better at being open and honest.

      Thank you again so much!!!

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