I was running with my friend when she said, “Hey, I have some news and you may have some feelings about it.“
She proceeded to tell me that she and two of our other 2 good friends had planned a trip to Peru to explore Machu Picchu and have a spiritual experience. At first, I was excited as we’d always talked about going there. Until I realized that the plans had already been made and I hadn’t been included. Then I got quiet and kept running. I withdrew into myself, an old pattern for protection. I felt deeply hurt. Betrayed.
I started spinning out in thoughts, an unconscious way I protect myself and my heart, my hurt. “I’ll show them. I’ll go somewhere else even better with other friends. Maybe I actually need to go get a new set of friends? Is it going to be awkward from now on as they are excited about their plans and I feel left out? Ugh! That seems exhausting! I just want ease. I’ve been through so much lately. I don’t want to have to pretend everything is fine when all I feel is hurt and separate. Do I really have to process all this now too?!”
I starting feeling angry and discouraged on top of hurt and left out. "How could they? What the hell! It's been so long since I've gone anywhere to have fun."
After a while, I got my courage up and said I did have feelings about it, as she had started to move onto another topic. I told her, “You're right, I do have feelings about this. I am stuck in this old pattern of feeling hurt and withdrawing. I don’t feel included and I feel sad. I’m telling myself a story that you didn’t include me and I feel left out. I feel confused and hurt that you didn’t consider inviting me.“
I hadn’t been around as much for the past seven months as I’d been care taking a family member. This meant my need for fun and play as well as friendship was super depleted so my yearning for them was strong. I realized after processing more that that was the real crux of my pain. If my life had been filled with plenty of friendship and fun and adventure, hearing this news wouldn’t have rocked me so hard. I wasn’t even sure the trip would be right for me, but at that moment not feeling included hit a raw nerve.
Taking time to inquire further, I realized a part of me was stuck feeling angry. I wanted to lash out and direct my anger at them as my story was they were thoughtless and inconsiderate. I wanted to blame them for how I felt.
I’ve studied Brené Brown‘s work so much, I know that offloading my anger and blame at others is misplaced and makes everything worse. But I did need to feel the anger as it was pointing to something that mattered deeply to me: my need for friendship and consideration. These friends have been a reliable strategy for me to meet those needs.
The stickier part was held deeply with in me, that I was looking to them for proof I was valued, accepted.
After some more time, in fits and starts of exploring what was going on for me and why I was so upset I stumbled onto the real core. I was feeling shame. “What was wrong with me that they didn’t want to include me? I must not be a good enough friend.” I thought and started crying. This was so painful.
The shame spiral that Brené Brown writes about is all too familiar. In an instant, I was six years old and back on the playground. I got left out of the group. Excluded.
Unburying and shining light on this helped the pain of shame loose its power.
After my friend and I parted, I felt tender but more clear and peaceful about the whole situation. I’m not completely through it, there are still some emotional parts that want to be felt and listened to. But I know clearly that they were meeting needs; nothing was being done to me.
I'm also clear that the 5 Steps To Connect practices of meeting myself where I am, naming and experiencing my feelings, feeling them in my body, letting them point to my unmet needs, and being aware of my thoughts and interpretations, kept me from getting stuck in the pain cycle.
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