Not Faking It Until I Make It

I am back from my New York City trip. It was my sixth visit and also my hardest. Just two days into the trip I experienced a falling out with a friend. I felt blind-sighted, disillusioned, angry, heartbroken. I had previously felt so certain that this person was the safest person with whom to have a friendship. He was just that nice and that good. Unsure about what kind of relationship I wanted with this person, I cried and leaned on a few of my other friends. Sometimes clarity comes with well-intentioned advice that feels wrong. A couple of my friends suggested I “fake it till I make it.” They urged me to just act as if I am fine and not give the person the satisfaction of knowing he had that kind of power. “That would really show him!”

I have a long history of swallowing grievances for the sake of pride and winning. My parents raised me on many of their own mantras, one of which was, “Don’t cry about people who aren’t crying about you.” I was raised by parents who were also taught to never let people see you vulnerable. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized in learning to silently and secretly bear trespasses, it kept the perpetrators in my life for much longer than was healthy. A defense mechanism that developed as a byproduct was very high tolerance for pain. Pain is how we know when something isn’t working or isn’t healthy. So consequently, I also developed high tolerance for people who were bad for me.

It wasn’t till my late twenties that I learned the value of pain. Like a lot of people, I’m hedonistic by nature and I lean on the pursuit of pleasure as my most sought out cure for pain. Sweep icky feeling under the rug and go on a trip or eat a whole half gallon of ice cream! But pain is good. Pain tells you when something isn’t working.

Another thing my loving but humanly misguided parents taught me that I had to unlearn was not using my words. They commanded me to always hold my head high and never let anyone suspect that they hurt me. With a lot of practice, I got to be very good at silently suffering until I felt numb. Which enabled a lot of mistreatment. Which toughened me up for more ensuing pain from these toxic people because they learned they can do anything and I wouldn’t speak up.

Terrible cycle.

So when my friends suggested I fake it till I make it with this person who made me crumble on what was supposed to be a fun trip, I felt a very clear resolution rise from my stomach and into my heart.

I am no longer pretending with people who hurt me that they didn’t hurt me.

In deciding that, every superficial conversation initiated by this person felt like an uncomfortable game of charades. I took two more days to steel myself to speak up and when I did, it felt so good to be honest. Not only to him but also to myself. I felt strong. Powerful.

Who would have thought that in admitting feelings of hurt, you can actually feel strong and powerful?

  • Bernadette Moke

    HUGS! Glad you followed your gut.

  • I think it’s easy as an introverted type to find power in staying silent…but everyone does it differently. There have been times when speaking up yielded the best result. Good for you for being brave and speaking your piece! There’s no room for toxic relationships when we all have such a finite time on this planet.

  • Ugh! I’m so sorry you had a falling out with a friend during your trip! I’m sure that is not how you wanted to spend your time in New York. :(

    I love the mantra about not crying over people who aren’t crying about you. Someone told me that long before I met Chris and was crying over some jerkface all the time who wasn’t right for me and it really opened up my eyes.

    I think your decision to not hude your hurt from the hurters is a smart one and I hope it brings you more happiness and less toxic people in your life!

  • lisasyarns

    I am so sorry to hear that you had a falling out with a close friend, especially in the midst of a trip that was supposed to be so much fun. Kudos to you for standing up for yourself and letting this person know that what he did was not OK. I an see how you felt powerful and strong as a result.

  • You are a strong, brave, inspirational woman, Linda. You had to make a tough call, and you did something so strong, so powerful, and something YOU NEEDED TO DO FOR YOU. You had to stand up for yourself, and that’s an amazing thing.

    I’m sorry NYC wasn’t the adventure you were hoping for. And that you now have this sad memory of your trip there. But you can also remember the time you stuck up for yourself, told someone you weren’t going to put up with this kind of behavior, and found the courage to walk away.

    Love you, friend. <3

  • Well I have experienced a falling out with a friend recently too. Ultimately, I made the decision to let go of that friendship because of the immense pain you mentioned, and realizing that it was a very unhealthy relationship. We learn that we can’t be people pleasers, we need to work on pleasing ourselves and protecting our hearts.

    Not every trip is grand…As much as I love traveling, I’ve had some bad trips too! I’m proud of you for speaking up. Keep going in the direction of strength!

  • Megan

    This is a thoughtful, powerful post, Linda. Growing up in the Midwest with Lutheran/Scandiavian family means everyone hides everything, and it’s so unhealthy in my view. It took a long time before I decided I could no longer just pretend things were OK for the sake of… whatever it was supposed to help. I’ve made some really, really tough choices in light of that, but ultimately I’ve emerged from the other side a stronger person with a healthier mental outlook. Only YOU know what is right for you.

  • “Who would have thought that in admitting feelings of hurt, you can actually feel strong and powerful?”

    Nailed it. In this society, no one likes to admit that they’re feeling hurt or vulnerable. People think it will make them seem weak, but doing so takes balls. Balls! You’ve never come across as a faker which I really appreciate.