WHEN PEER PRESSURE STARTING ERODING HER MARRIAGE
Sarah. She was a simple girl with simple desires. Flowers, jewelry, clothes, shoes, handbags did not impress her at all. She genuinely believed that one’s possessions, power and affluence did not determine their character. Money cannot buy everything, least of all true respect.
Sarah clearly remembers walking away from friends whom she did not resonate with - friends whose lives revolved around showing off, those who could not bask in the simple joy of just being themselves because being themselves somehow just wasn’t “enough”.
It had been more than 20 years since she ditched those friends, she was married and thought she was happy but somewhere along the line, she felt something was amiss. Her husband was a good provider, he saw to all her needs but there was an underlying resentment towards him. She was not quite sure where it came from.
It was a beautiful spring morning and they were eating breakfast while having a light-hearted conversation when she responded to one of his comments with a salty remark.
“You are always putting me down!” the accusation exploded in her ears shaking her to the core. It was not the first time her husband had accused her of this. Tears welled up in her eyes as she attempted to defend herself, feebly so.
“No, I don’t!” Sarah sounded like a 3-year-old in denial. She considered herself to be a very compassionate, empathetic, and understanding person. Isn’t that why so many people turned to her for support and a sympathetic ear? How could he accuse her of this?
She, of all people, knew what it felt like to be put down. Almost all her life’s experiences revolved around other people putting her down, there was no way on mother earth that she did this to him!!
He walked out the door, slamming it behind him. Sarah exhaled audibly; she did not realise she had been holding her breath. He had left to run errands so she knew he would be back. At least, by then, he would have calmed down. That is how he was - he would explode and then calm down within a few hours.
She was not like that. She withdrew, like an injured tiger, licking her wounds. She did not speak to him for two days, hurt by his accusation while also allowing her ego to cloud her judgement. She analysed and over analysed her words and actions, desperately trying to understand why he felt this way. And that is when it clicked!
He had a wacky sense of humour and was renowned for always being quick witted. He was so good at it that Sarah felt he was showing off, at least, that is how she perceived it. He was just being himself but Sarah’s childhood trauma of not being good enough resurfaced. Somehow, she felt she was not good enough for him. She felt she had to match up to him otherwise she was a failure.
Peer pressure. The rite of passage. The golden ribbon of acceptance into a circle. How does one draw the line between acceptance by peers and following your
intuition at the risk of rejection by your peers? FOMO - fear of missing out, there was that as well. How does one juggle all of this and still carve a special place for themselves in this clique filled world? Is there a right answer? Perhaps.
In her futile attempts to match up to him, unbeknownst to her, she was putting him down while also failing in a crucial area of her own life - being true to who she really was. There was an uncomfortable annoyance within herself, a resentment which she did not know the source of. That annoyance stemmed from her higher self, her true self, nagging her to stop trying to measure up to her husband. She was not being true to herself in doing so.
He was right. She was desperate to show him that she wasn’t any less than he was, she was driven by her desire to be part of the “in crowd” - all those like him, quick witted, she always felt left out when hanging around him and his friends. She succumbed to a bizarre form of self created peer pressure derived from FOMO.
She forgot that she was an individual in her own right with unique, remarkable, and desirable qualities. She entered a race she never was meant to be a part of. She recognised that whether she felt good enough or not, all depended on her and not on anyone else.
Would she change the way she behaved with her husband? Would she be able to overcome the triggers that set off every time he said something which made him look better than her? Would she refrain from reacting to these triggers? Only time would tell...