Reacting (without overreacting) to minor manipulations
Today was the second meeting of my depression therapy group. It runs from 10-11:30am weekly, and the facilitators were quite strict about attendance and punctuality in the first meeting. I entered the building at exactly 10am after a 30 minute walk to get there (bus drivers are on strike). The receptionist said that they had already gone back to the meeting room and that I had to sit and wait until the facilitator came to check for stragglers. I didn't like being characterized that way since I had arrived on time.
After waiting ten minutes, the facilitator came to get me (everyone else had apparently arrived earlier than 10am). I told her that I had come on time because I was worried that she would think badly of me since she had to interrupt the session to come get me. I asked if I needed to arrive early and she said no. I told her that the situation made me feel very anxious. The session itself went fine, but it took me at least thirty minutes to calm down enough to take it in.
I felt a bit manipulated in this situation by a "moving the goal posts" action - that is, I was told 10am was "on time" but then when I showed up at 10am, I was somehow "late". I know that I was triggered by this because my narcissistic ex used to do things like this to me all the time. It doesn't help that the facilitator was in a position of some authority - I had been on a waitlist for so long and I didn't want to lose the opportunity to be part of this group.
I've had a few of these situations happen lately and while I always maintain my composure in the moment (a lifetime of practice 🙃), I don't like the fallout afterward. I've been feeling it all through my body this afternoon.
I understand that this was a very minor issue, and that no one was hurt by it. But I feel like I am at a place in my journey where I just don't want to deal with these things anymore. "You're going to manipulate me? Fine. You don't get access to my life anymore." It's like an overreactive way to take back my power. I have felt so powerless for most of my life and now that I've learned how to get perspective, I'm just done with it. I don't want it in my life.
Realistically, though, these situations are going to constantly come up in my life because humans do these things. Even I do them to others. I am still figuring out how to navigate relationships in a healthy way.