Do you have space to be who you are?
There's a type of person you can always find in a group. They'll be in the center. They think their choices are the best. I watch as many follow along behind because, friend, they are contagious. They are charismatic. They are able to make you feel approved of, loved, accepted, included....or not.
This type of person will appear to make room for you. They will appear to want you around them. But after some time passes you will realize they only want you there if you are willing to follow along behind them. They are their own pied piper, and heaven forbid any who decides to stray. Oh, they will appear to allow you your own choices but you will know their opinions of such an act. Clearly. Either overtly or subliminally their opinion of your choice will be known. And they will not approve.
It's not that they simply don't like you or your choice. No, they want what's best for you. They want you to see things as they should be. They want you to do what is right. It's just that they know what's right, what's best, and how things should be for you. And you best listen and agree. That's what they think, anyway.
How do we deal with people like this?
I'll let you in on a secret, I keep my distance. It took me a long time to learn how to be around people like this without taking everything they did personally. Their demand for me to do what they said ran smack dab into my desire to please everyone, and well, I'm sure you can only imagine what kind of mess that made.
With some time now passed since I have been in a close relationship with anyone like this, I find it interesting to observe this same type of person from a distance. I recognize how they swing the extremes, and depending on their mood for the day you may or may not be in their good graces. I see that their hostility is hardly veiled, but only seen by a few. You have to be looking for it, or they say it's snark, sarcasm, or "just playing." But words are weapons and they strike right where they mean to and leave you dazed with hurt and anger; questioning your own reasoning.
But I also recognize if I'm not careful I can be like this myself, and that is the last thing I want to do.
So I deal with people like this by keeping my distance. I live with them by recognizing I am not them. I recognize I can't change them, and I don't allow them to change me. I breathe easier because I don't breathe in everything they say and think. I remember I can't please them anyway, and I can't live their life. I hold on tight to the belief that God has given me a brain, a gut, a heart, a soul, and a body and a way for me to live out His will.
And while the closeness I wish I could have, the one where friendship blossoms and acceptance flows, will never happen with these people, I instead recognize that I am accepted and I can bloom right where I am anyway. Without their approval. With their dismissal.
And sometimes that's the only way we can deal with those who insist their way needs to be our way. It's the only way to handle controlling people who think they are "trying to help you out."