I’m feeling completely thrown. I know this is yet another thing I should just be able to move on from. Everyone else has. By not letting it go I’m childish and self centred and maybe acting like I have far more influence than I really do and hanging on to things other people just don’t find important. Perhaps part of the problem is how much more things said and time spent together and exchanges make me feel than most people do.
So, after I posted last night I decided to phone my friend N. It was almost 2 weeks since i wrote to her apologising and I hadn’t heard from her. I was pretty sure she was hurt and angry and that it was likely she was upset and frustrated and didn’t want to meet or keep contact. I did want to just try again to tell her I’m sorry. I didn’t want to ask her to forgive me but I hoped she could know I was sorry and there might be something I could do to make the apology real and somehow make better the harm I’d caused.
I was also increasingly really scared about her. I was really scared I’d made her very ill because of what I’d done and said. I was dreaming about it and suddenly having images of horrible things happening and how much I’d hurt her. I almost always get these panics and fears after I’ve been angry with someone or hurt them emotionally. This had all intensified.
So I resolved to phone her. I was aware some of the need to call her was self centred because I needed to know what the silence of not hearing from her meant and answer my fears about whether she was ill.
When I called, her phone went straight to voicemail – it was switched off. This wasn’t usual. Very often she doesn’t answer, if she’s at work for example, but rarely is the phone switched off. I panicked. I felt complete dread.
I tried to be normal. I texted N. I told her I’m so sorry and some of the things I wanted to say. I said I knew she can’t forgive me and wasn’t asking to meet but I did want her to know I’m sorry. Could I call her?
The voices in my head started telling me she was dead because of me. I was losing it. I was so scared I was shaking and crying and thought I was going to faint. I “knew” she was dead and it was all because of what I did; it was my fault. I actually called the hospital to all if she was admitted. They told me nobody of her name / DoB was admitted or had been admitted. At some point amongst this I rang and texted N’s husband as well. I admitted I was really scared something had happened to N because of me. I said I’m sorry for saying that because it was kind of selfish to have to check and could pressure him into contacting me.
Then I cried and waited and the voices in my head got really loud.
Thankfully N’s husband texted me back within a few minutes promising me she is fine and they were busy but he’d talk to her about getting in touch. I was stunned and so so relieved, above all; also exhausted from having been so scared.
This morning I got a text from N. She said sorry for not replying as she and her husband were very busy, and she did already forgive me – she said she’d already said that she forgives me (at the time we were arguing). She said she hopes I’m a bit better.
I suddenly felt stunned again and really confused. Even more confused than when I didn’t hear from her. I wanted to be massively relieved on the one hand and of course I really was relieved that she’s okay. However questions were firing off in my head.
I hadn’t actually processed at the time we were arguing that she said she forgives me. How did she forgive me when I was still angry and upset and had really hurt her? I hadn’t apologised. I guess if i try to see the situation the other way round, I hope that I’d forgive her that way too. But I feel she shouldn’t forgive me and I didn’t deserve it when I hadn’t accepted yet the wrong I’d done.
Second, she forgives me and I believe her even though I can’t accept it for myself. What is she feeling? Is she still hurt? Does forgiving mean not feeling hurt? Often when I forgive someone, trying not to hold anger against them, I think I still feel hurt at what happened. I don’t know how to get over that. Actually I worry that means I don’t forgive as I should and hang on to hurts childishly. What is N feeling? Is she still hurt? Have I still hurt her?
What does N want to do now? Does she want to be in touch? Does she want to be in touch on the phone, email, meet? What does she actually prefer? As opposed to what she might feel obliged to do…
Finally yet again I see how differently I read the situation from what it meant for her. For example when I didn’t hear from her after I wrote, it meant to me she was definitely still angry, hurting, didn’t want contact etc at best. At worst in confirmed my terrors about what I’d done to her. To her it was just that she was busy. To me, if someone had written to me like that I can’t imagine not contacting the person in at least some way no matter how busy I was, unless I was too hurt / upset / similar to do so. To me my thoughts and feelings about the letter and about the other person and about the other person’s feelings about the letter (aargh! Thought spirals!) would have been so strong I couldn’t possibly understand just not replying at all.
This tells me my thoughts and feelings about N and our friendship are much…. stronger?…than N’s are about me and our friendship. In some way that hurts and in some way it throws me and in some way tells me I’m very very wrong. Am I obsessional? Childish? Needing reassurance? Assuming I have far more effect on others than I do? Even assuming I matter to others, dare I even say wanting to matter to others, far more than I should.
It sounds degrading to the other person to say my feelings are stronger. I don’t mean it like that. It can seem as if I feel a lot more or want to be there a lot more for other people than they do for me. Apart from times I massively hurt them and the dangerous anger in me takes over. I’m really ashamed to admit to the feeling I sometimes have that I care about other people more than they do about me. To even entertain that thought is shameful – it shows a childish, selfish need to be helped and loved and cared for and a longing for someone else to be there for me. It makes no sense to have this feeling, given the guilt I also feel because I know I’m such a burden to people.
I guess I have plenty of levels of thought and feeling that I shouldn’t and that other people don’t. Being convinced someone is dead or seriously sick because we had an argument is probably pretty weird. Well, it clearly is, when I write it like that. Perhaps I have far too deep levels of thoughts and feelings about people that mean I read the implications of situations totally wrong – lack of contact meaning people are angry or don’t care, when actually they are busy; the very fact that “busy” is the reason people don’t respond in particular circumstances being something that makes me feel frozen out and unwanted and that it’s impossible people do want me (if I were them, I would act so differently), when actually it should be normal?
Again it comes back to I feel too much and need too much. I probably make relationships draining for the other person because actions mean so different to me than they do to other people. The consequence or meaning of an action is always far greater for me and usually far more to do with wrong I’ve done (like the above example of N’s silence in response to my letter; or when someone canceling meeting up or not wanting to come over when I’m really upset and need help meaning it’s proof they can’t stand me really, when actually it means they’re just too busy).
I texted N back and thanked her and directly asked her first was she still hurt (I didn’t know how she could forgive me at the point I was still angry and hurting her) and second what did she really want to do – did she want to be in touch, did she want to meet? She didn’t say whether she wanted to or not and I felt needed to know what she wanted. I’m waiting to see what she’ll say, if she replies.