Undermine: "to attack by indirect, secret, or underhand means; attempt to subvert by stealth."
I had a conversation with someone last week which took me a few days to decipher. I knew what I felt afterwards, but I couldn't put my finger on exactly why that was. It wasn't until I spoke to a close friend in the program, and shared some of the content of the conversation, that I was given understanding. My friend was quickly able to recognise the behavior, and its result, because she's had long experience with just that thing - subtle undermining.
She used the word, and everything clicked into place and made sense. I "got it."
I cannot stress strongly enough, how helpful it can be to "reason things out with someone else." It's not always necessary to do this with someone in Al-Anon; it can be done with anyone with whom we feel safe, and in whom, we have complete trust.
We are each locked inside our own heads with our perceptions and our habits of thinking - this can keep us confused and frustrated. We need an objective viewpoint, sometimes many different objective viewpoints. When I was new to program, I used to feel that I was only allowed to ask one person to do this reasoning out with me, and it's not a good idea to be shopping around trying to get a specific answer. But experiences and strengths vary; the first person with whom we talk, may not be able to help us identify or recognise the patterns in an encounter.
I'm trying to pay more attention to how I feel after I spend time with someone. Do I feel vaguely unsettled, and suddenly full of self-doubt, when I went into the conversation feeling positive and happy? If so, something happened in that encounter, and I need to figure it out, so that I can make a good choice for myself about whether or not I want to have this person in my life.
It's a fact of life that some people aren't good for me. I don't have to explain or justify, condemn or demonise that person, in order to feel that I have a good reason to avoid them. I don't need a good reason. If every time I see them, I come away from that encounter feeling unsettled, confused, and less serene, those feelings are reason enough. Self-care includes picking my friends wisely. Life is too short to spend any of it with those who would undermine my confidence.
An old friend in program spoke movingly about the way that her father used to tell her that his criticism was "well-meant" and "for her own good," and that she couldn't "surround herself with only those people who would be cheering her on."
This woman said that her real recovery began the day that she realised she could do that very thing - pick friends who would be her cheerleaders, delighted in her successes, and supportive of her failures. That was the day that she understood fully and completely that she deserved to be surrounded by cheerleaders.
I, too, have been snared by that "for your own good" trap of negativity. I prefer cheerleaders.