Marc MacYoung points out that when you get yourself out of whatever bad situation you were in, you might find that your problems have only started. You may be missing out whatever skills other people were picking up while you were busy trying to cope with your problems. Those skills may be essential to functional living outside of said bad situation, or to prevent you falling right back into it.
Alas, it’s hard to know what you don’t know, particularly if nobody around you knows it either. If you surround yourself with people who share your background and/or your issues, you can end up looking as if you’re members of the local Synchronised Walking-Into-Walls team, constantly banging your heads against the same issues.
It’s also hard to work out what you need to learn when the people around you don’t want you to learn it… but that’s mostly an issue for those stuck in a crab-bucket of some sort, and that’s another story. This is purely about those of us who’ve managed to extricate ourselves from certain situations, but found ourselves with faulty programming for managing daily, normal life.
One major issue shared by ‘my people’ seems to be around boundary setting – not so much HOW to do it, but the fact that we can or in fact should do it. Many of us were brought up to essentially eat shit from our families and say “thank you” afterwards. We were taught that we did not have the right to request to be treated decently; in fact, we were taught that the mere fact that we wished for a change made us bad people.
Furthermore, we tend to expect that internal conflict in a group will inevitably result in some kind of disaster. The possibility of having a calm and respectful negotiation between equals doesn’t tend to occur to us, because we were not brought up in an environment where that was on the menu. Everything was begging or fighting, and even when you won, the costs tended to outweigh the victory.
When we’re faced with having to handle people close to us, we have a tendency to let small stuff slide because we don’t feel we have the right or the ability to try and modify people’s behaviour. We don’t address small issues trying to come up with mutually agreeable solutions. We also don’t use small issues as tests of how bigger issues may be handled, in order to evaluate the feasibility of a relationship. We just put up with them, until they build up into something too serious to ignore. Alas, by that point the people around us have probably come to the conclusion that we’re super-easy-going, have no standards, or are complete mats; just because we don’t test others, it doesn’t mean they’re not testing us… So when we suddenly show the other side of us, the cornered rat side of us, they can be a bit taken aback.
You might find this shocking, but this isn’t precisely a recipe for how to have smooth interpersonal relationships.