I have been conditioned to avoid conflict. I have been punished, ignored, cold shouldered, berated, insulted and put down whenever I rose to a conflict instead of rolled over, whenever I voiced an opinion that was contrary to what was being said. I didn’t realise it was happening – it started off small, and phrased like a concern for me “you shouldn’t argue with people on the internet”. By the time it was blatantly “don’t do that, that’s rude” it was too late, I was hooked into the narcissist and I wasn’t getting out.
Despite the many years I’ve been away from Him, I am still not free. I have identified an immediate aversion to conflict, to the point where I will go along with things that I do not like, things that I feel are unkind, because I cannot deal with the conflict. If someone says something unkind about someone else towards me I’ll smile and play along – doesn’t matter who it is, I just shut down, go into conflict avoidance and people please mode, and my brain disconnects.
I never used to be like this. Back in high school (a friend of mine reminded me of this) I was sitting at a group of desks and another girl came over and said she wanted it. I politely said no, and when she persevered, I told her to fuck off. In exactly those words. I had no issues telling two girls who were harassing me at home to fuck off and never come back again. I had no problems standing up to bullies.
I am now into my fourth week of fluoxetine, and I have discovered an amazing effect. I’m getting my backbone back.
Today a colleague was rude about one of the people I provide support for. This particular individual is Chinese. The rest of the office is not. This particular colleague asked me to tell the Chinese woman to see her “once she’s done with her jabbering”. Instead of my usual response – a polite, mincing smile and a churning of discomfort in my gut – I felt immediately angry. While I couldn’t vocalise it properly, I certainly let it be shown in my face and posture. This colleague was being very rude and racist about another colleague, one who she works with, and one who works harder than damn near everyone else in the office.
And for once, my first response wasn’t conflict avoidance. I was, and still am, intensely proud of myself for that. I feel more like me than I have in a decade.