…to an emotionally immature person
What do I actually want to say?
Over the course of about 6–8 months, I wrote five pieces in a series entitled, “What I Should Have Said…” to a former friend, to my mother, to an unrequited love, to a former colleague and about a gross form of sexual misconduct. It was often anxiety-inducing, but it ultimately proved to be a therapeutic exercise in truth-telling; a necessary step towards becoming a stronger writer.
However, I’ve been thinking lately that, though addressing unresolved issues from the past is an important process of letting go and moving forward, it is also equally important for me to address the things that plague my anxious-depressive mind in the here and now.
It’s “living in the moment,” “being present,” and all of those catchy phrases people use these days to be more mindful. Now, I cringe at having to use the M-word. However, I simultaneously acknowledge that mindfulness really does mean something: if you are constantly living in the past with your regrets or worrying about the future with all the unknowns, are you really living?
For me, the answer has become a resounding, no.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (NIV, Matthew 6:34)
So, what is troubling me today? It comes in the form of two words, neatly packaged together: emotional immaturity.
I’ve come across many people in my life that I genuinely do not like. Not in that fiery, all-consuming I’ll-hate-you-until-the-day-I-die kind of enmity that destroys families, as was the case with Heathcliff, the Earnshaws and Lintons in Wuthering Heights; and not in that same fiery, all-consuming I’ll-get-you-back-someday kind of hatred that takes the form of a well thought out revenge, as was the case with Dantes and his former best friend in The Count of Monte Cristo…I simply came to the realization that I did not like the person and had to find ways to cope with that over time.
Getting comfortable with not liking someone is really hard for some people. If you’re anything like me, you feel this underlying obligation to get along with everyone. Now, through counselling, I’ve come to realize that this stems from a lot of things for me: how I was raised, the relationship I had with my parents and my constant drive for perfectionism.
In recent years I’ve had to become more accepting of who am I in my entirety, and a large part of that was limiting the internal drive I have to be a constant people-pleaser. Accepting all parts of me is what ultimately drove me to write pieces for my “What I Should Have Said…” series, and it’s what’s currently driving me to start writing my “What I Want to Say…” series now.
So, without further ado, let’s dive right in shall we?
Dear Emotionally Immature Person,
I’m not sure how deeply this will land with you. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to try.
There are a great many things you are: fun, witty, driven. However, there is one thing that you must realize that you are not: the center of everything. Because of you, I’ve been doing a lot of research on what constitutes an emotionally mature person, and I was ironically amused to find that you, in your current state of being, embody none of the characteristics needed to establish yourself as emotionally mature.
My main grievances? You are selfish. You are rude. You are a bully. You are manipulative.
To your selfishness, I would say that there is nothing wrong with preservation of self in the sense that you have healthy boundaries in place with the people with whom you work, with your family and friends and with your significant other. Boundaries are good. Being assertive about who you are and what you need is good. But you take it too far.
Often times with you, I observe a person who demands without first understanding the whole picture. Much of this, I think, comes from your need to control, based on your personal history. What you don’t seem to acknowledge is that other people have histories too. Other people have needs. Other people have boundaries, and if you expect people to show you enough respect to not cross yours, you also need to ensure that you understand theirs and refrain from crossing their lines. Yes, you have a difficult past that requires a lot of planning and meticulous care in your present. What you don’t seem to acknowledge is that you’re not the only one dealing with a personal history in their present.
There is a fine line between selfish or emotionally mature. If you can put yourself before others without putting them at a disadvantage, you are counted as being emotionally mature. (7 Signs You are Emotionally Mature)
(I highly recommend that you think about the quote above critically.)
To your rudeness, I would simply ask: do you have good friends? Do you spend enough time with them? If you don’t have friends, try and make some as quickly as you can. If you don’t spend enough time with friends you already have, try doing that soon.
And by friends I mean someone who is not (1) a family member and (2) a person you are currently dating.
Friends are necessary to learn how to properly engage and socialize with the wider world. Without them, you won’t pick up on habits you have that are off-putting at best or widely insulting at worst. I’m afraid, my dear, that the habits you have and how you exhibit them to the world (in the limited ways I’ve seen thus far) are bridging more on the widely insulting end of the spectrum. Make some good friends so they can call you out on your crap. And when they do, please listen. In turn, try to adjust and become a better friend; I have a feeling you’re not going to be a good one at first, but you might get better with time…and with less ego.
Also, just to be clear: that friend will not be me.
To your bullying, I want to say watch out! You are doing it to people who are choosing to love you. You are doing it to people who are sharing emotional spaces with you because you are romantically involved with their family. However, that behavior will not be excusable for the long-term. Your needs and wants do not supersede the needs and wants of others. Not always. Know the difference.
And, I truly mean it: watch out with your bullying behavior. One day you may try what has been working thus far on the wrong person on the wrong day and be in for a very rude awakening. Or worse yet, you may end up losing someone that you currently profess to know and love deeply.
To your manipulativeness I want to say: this is an ugly color on you. Being overly nice and exuberant to get your way only works with certain people. And, from personal experience, no matter what their relationship is to you — romantic, familial or friendly — it will only last for so long. Eventually, people will realize that you take more than you give, that you are unwilling to pick up the slack or go the extra mile for others and that you lack the basic decency to sometimes put other people’s needs ahead of your own.
It is a flimsy, imitation of a relationship when one person is manipulative. Eventually, those relationships will break down and dissipate if you refrain from putting anything other than getting what you want into it. There are few people who will stand to be in a relationship with manipulative people, and I’m afraid you’ll eventually find yourself unfulfilled if you do not correct this.
Now, I say this to you with every hope that you are capable and willing to change. I do not want you to fail. However, I can see things failing apart for you in the long-run if you don’t.
I’m also saying this with the understanding that I’ve got my own crap to deal with too; I’m not perfect. However, I am confident enough to say that (1) I’ve got good friends who will call me out on my crap, (2) I’m in a strong romantic relationship where we both give equally and can pick up the slack for each other when things get dodgy, and (3) I feel very fulfilled emotionally, spiritually, physically and intellectually. Granted, it took me a LONG time to get here, but I am here now because I took the time to mature and adapt, and because I am constantly checking myself to ensure I am giving as much as I am taking. I ask myself on a daily basis:
Are you being selfish or are you setting a healthy boundary?
Do you really need to say that? Or is it better to keep it to yourself and/or to the pages of your journal?
Am I getting my way too much? Am I allowing others I know and love the space to get what they need in return?
Are you behaving this way genuinely? Or are you doing it to get people to do what you want?
You should start asking yourself these questions more often.
A Concerned Observer