Hmm. I've actually been thinking about some things people misunderstand about me lately. Had some revelations... but I think those are for another post. I think I'll address a misunderstanding that seems to come up over and over again over the years. I admit, I'm frustrated by it.
I get accused of being extremely defensive. Now, I can be defensive, so it's not a totally invalid accusation. But the issue is that often times I'm accused of this when I'm not feeling at all defensive. Instead, I'm simply explaining myself. The reason this is so frustrating and painful is it usually happens with people I'm close to and it feels like a form of rejection.
Someone will come to me about an action or stance of mine. I will see that they don't understand why I did it or said it and so, if they are someone I want to have a better relationship with, I will explain myself. If they are someone I just have a passing acquaintance with, I'll typically just let it be. But if I want them to understand me, I will open up to them and let them in on why and how I came to whatever it is we're discussing. Often I'm not even defending it. I might agree with them it was wrong and am simply explaining to them how I came to do whatever it was, revealing the thoughts or emotions that lead up to it, so that they can know me on a deeper level. It's a relational thing for me, opening up and being vulnerable.
And then they say "You're so defensive!" and shut down on me.
I feel like I'm like "Here, let me show you into my heart and mind, I'll open up and be vulnerable to you" and they respond by saying "GAH I don't have time to care about or try to understand you, I just want you to get with the program and do what I want." It cuts deep.
As I said, if it's someone I don't care about deepening the relationship with, I don't bother doing this. I can give short and sweet answers, but only when I have a shallow relationship with them. Because of that even when the person I care about has made it clear they'd prefer I not open up, to do so seems like a retreat from them emotionally, to go from deep to shallow. So I struggle with doing it because it feels passive aggressive and angry. And also I feel like, knowing why and how my emotions are behind explaining myself so they'll understand me that if they really do prefer that I don't do it, my feelings of rejection and not being appreciated will be validated and our relationship will genuinely take a step back. So in relationships I really care about, I typically don't step back, even when it seems to annoy the other person, because to do so would feel like relegating the loved one to the role of a business associate or acquaintance and it'd break my heart. So I struggle in this place between wanting to do for them what they ask and feeling like if I do, they'll show they don't really understand and love me....
It's an angsty thing.
Again, this misunderstanding seems to keep coming up and I struggle on how to fix it. Thus far I have not. But it feels good to write it out!