How Ann Dealt with Julie (or How to Stop Being a Doormat)
By: Beth McHugh 2007
Remember Ann? She got dumped by Julie just days before Julie had agreed to accompany Ann to the doctors. Ann had given her six weeks notice of the impending appointment yet Julie phoned to cancel three days before the Big Day.
And it was a big day for Ann, as she suffered from clinical anxiety plus she was about to do something that would cause anxiety in itself, that is, visit her therapist. As we read in Still Talking but Not Walking, Ann successfully made it to her session. But Ann has taken an even bigger step. She has told Julie just what she thought of her careless actions.
This is marvelous progress for Ann. As she suffers from a chronic anxiety illness that is made worse by stress, she tries her best to minimize stress in her life. That often includes not telling others when they have hurt or upset her for fear that they will get angry and fail to support her in her battle against her illness.
These same feelings exist for any person suffering from a chronic illness, both physical or mental, where outside support is required for the person to either get better or get through their daily routine. Ann was very careful not to show her anger or pain to others who let her down or hurt her, because she feared abandonment.
However, this experience with Julie made something click inside Ann’s head. She decided she had had enough of being let down by others or acting as a doormat in an effort to retain their “love.”
So Ann did a very brave thing for someone in her position. She phoned Julie and told her very calmly and clearly that she was disappointed and angry about the manner in which she had been treated. She told her that she had caused her pain. She stated that she personally would not treat a friend that way, nor would she do that to a person for whom she was a support. Then she proceeded to tell Julie that as she didn’t consider her to have acted as either a friend or a support, she really didn’t know what to do with her!
Julie then tried to defend her actions by stating that “Sometimes others aren’t always aware of the full situation.” Ann recognized this for what it was: an excuse. So she calmly said to Julie: “Well, perhaps you should have been honest with me right from the start if there really were other reasons.” There was silence at the end of the phone.
I am so pleased with Ann. I believe that this will be a turning point in her recovery and her life. To be assertive yet not aggressive, to speak her mind, to tell this woman that she hurt her badly and caused her distress, to be open and honest and then to tell her that the “friendship” was not a friendship at all, has been so healing for Ann.
Ann is feeling much stronger. She still suffers from an anxiety disorder, she still has anxiety. But she feels better about herself. She has begun a much-belated journey to claim her self back. To stop being a doormat to the whims of others. To stand up for herself. Well done, Ann!