Today, I got really upset over the way a couple of people spoke to me in a business and programming related discord text chat. They were being critical of choices I had said I made. It was something trivial but still upset me.
And it upset me so much I was on and off crying the whole day, unable to get control of my emotions.
I decided to stick up for myself and state in the chat that the things that were said made me feel stupid and unwelcome. And I asked that people try to be a little kinder. My hope in advocating for myself would be that I might be able to sway this particular chat vibe to being more supportive and hopefully make it more welcoming for others.
And not surprisingly someone basically said I was being too sensitive and the fact I took it the way I did was my problem.
My rejection sensitive disphoria was already triggered before that comment but to not be seen and be shamed for being hurt, felt like being kicked while I was down. It brought back memories of being bullied as a child, crying, then being bullied some more for being a cry baby.
Thankfully someone jumped into the chat and said they could see how what was said could cause me to feel attacked. I felt seen. And it diffused the conversation.
But the damage was still done and my emotions continued to take me on a rollercoaster, a passenger watching it unfold. Knowing that my reaction was not rational didn’t help me.
I lost precious hours of what was supposed to be a productive day working on my business.
I tried many tricks to try and snap myself out of it. I went for walks. I tried to work. I tried eating. I used the usual CBT strategies to put the situation in perspective. I talked to myself the way a wise friend would. “You are sensitive because you had a traumatic childhood. And this person doesn’t know or understand that context.” ” You are hurting and that’s ok. Don’t fight it and let it out. This too shall pass.” “They didn’t mean to be hurtful. They’re trying to be constructive.”
The final thing that seemed to work was curl up on my bed in the fetal position and meditate for 45 minutes.
I wish I didn’t have RSD. The tough thing about it is not only does it cause me to overreact, but then I feel bad for overreacting. I understand that having it is just a result of ADHD and childhood trauma. But when I get upset over something someone says to me, and advocate for myself to say, hey that could have been said nicer, I’m inevitably going to be told or treated like I’m being too sensitive.
A good friend of mine often spoke critically of me and my business choices even after I would tell him in the moment how hurtful it was. Yet he continued to do it. And told me I was too sensitive and have poor self esteem and had no reason to feel so badly about myself. I made the tough decision to cut that person out of my life because it was clear they weren’t willing to meet me part way or be considerate of my feelings.
I have accomplished much in my life. I have had my art viewed by millions of people on the internet’s most popular web page, the Google homepage. I’ve successfully lead a team of engineers having a great tech career. And now I run a business where I get to make a difference helping neurodivergent teens and adults find belonging and confidence.
And those things help build my confidence and give me purpose and meaning in my life. But they don’t erase the childhood trauma.
I’d love to be able to say to myself, this discord conversation is trivial and doesn’t matter, so this pain shouldn’t be here. But all the same the pain is there. Like a reopening of an old wound. And I bear the pain once more for the whole day. Completely knowing the pain I feel is irrational. But not having much ability to stop it.
I understand that I must accept that this is part of who I am. And that there’s little I can do to change it. But I also have hope that some day I won’t be so sensitive and not be bothered by the words of others.
Update Nov 2, 2021:
After some reflection, I now suspect the reason I reacted as strongly as I did may have been caused by good ol’ pregnancy hormones. I am sensitive but to have reacted this strongly for this long still feels out of character for me.
On the bright side, having a poor experience in that server motivated me to find something better. I ended up finding two really great business discord servers with really nice and knowledgeable business people and am loving it so far.
One door closes, another one opens.