Being the Real Me

There is a certain amount of duality in every human beings life. There are the things we let the world see, and the things we keep quiet and out of sight. There are things we talk openly about and things we never talk to anyone about.

Sometimes that duality creates a separation that can be difficult to close again. When you build a reputation, a persona, based on the things you openly share, it can be very difficult, then, to open up about the things you don’t normally share.

Maybe that’s not even such a bad thing. The things you don’t normally share may not need to be shared. But what happens when you want to share those things? What happens when all you think about are the things you wouldn’t normally share?

The obvious answer is to share those things and not concern yourself with worries of how that sharing will impact peoples’ impressions, peoples’ opinions of you.

Easier said than done.

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Know What I Can’t Understand?

How anyone could want to hurt someone else.  That’s what I can’t understand.

These people set out to harm other people, either physically or emotionally.  Somehow they think it’s fun.  Somehow they think what they’re doing is right.  Of course it’s not.  But they do not seem to understand that.  Day to day, some people set out to deliberately hurt other people in the simplest, smallest of ways.

I’m not saying I’m perfect, either.  I’m not saying I’ve never hurt anyone.  I’ve hurt people.  I certainly didn’t do it on purpose and I’ve felt terribly badly about it afterward, and I’ve done the best that I can do, while still being truthful, to make it up to the person.  Unfortunately, sometimes there’s nothing you can do.  Sometimes you can’t make things right with the person and still be honest.  Sometimes the person is just determined to stay hurt.  That’s a terrible situation to be in, but occasionally unavoidable.

But I cannot understand deliberately setting out to hurt someone else.  Not that I haven’t wanted to do so.  The truth is, on almost a daily basis, I want to hurt someone.  Someone will irk me so much that I want to just punch them, or slap them, or stab them, or say just the right thing, in just the right way that it will get under their skin and make them feel small and worthless.  This makes me less of a man and I’d really like to see it change, but it’s true, nonetheless.  I’m grateful, however, that I am man enough to keep my mouth shut and keep my hands to myself.  There’s no benefit to hurting someone else.  It doesn’t make me a better person.  It doesn’t elevate my worth in any way.  And if I need to hurt someone else to make myself feel better, well then, I’m a really sad human being indeed.

I hate hurting others.  It makes me feel horrible.  And I hate seeing anyone or anything hurt.  When I’m watching late night, or cable television and those awful animal rescue commercials with the Sarah McLachlan song come on, I have to fast forward over them so I don’t see those poor animals’ faces.  Today I drove by a dead animal on the side of the road and I felt badly because it had been hurt.  I hate seeing children cry.  I hate when someone feels helpless and alone because someone has mistreated them.

I simply cannot understand how harassment and abuse is the solution to anything.  I can not comprehend how treating someone this way can make the person doing the harassing feel good.  How someone can wake up in the morning with the determination to harm someone else is beyond me.

When you consider the number of teen suicides and attempted suicides over the last year or so, all because those children have been bullied by people who made it their goal in life to belittle and humiliate the victim, it is simply incomprehensible that anyone, particularly adults, could behave this way, but it happens just as much among adults as it does children.

So, if you’ve been the victim of this kind of abuse or harassment, what have you done about it?  What have you done to make it stop?

And if you are, or have been guilty of abusing or harassing someone else, please dig deep and really think about what is damaged within you, that you feel good about your behavior.  I promise you, you are in the minority.

 

Processing

I had an interesting conversation with Deb today and I’m still trying to process it.  Bear with me if this is a little weird.  Unheard of on this blog, I know!

Something happen last week that I’m undecided how to feel about/deal with.  I accidentally sent an instant message to K, that was supposed to go to Karin.  This wouldn’t necessarily be a big deal, except the message was about K and out of context, it was somewhat hurtful.

K has a habit of coming and standing in my office doorway and talking.  Once in a while, and with a reason, I do not mind this, but it has a tendency to happen frequently and for no purpose AND at the most personally inconvenient times, like when I’ve got a blog post to write, or a manuscript to edit.  Occasionally it even happens when I’m working on my paying job.  Sometimes she’ll stand and talk to me.  Sometimes she’ll stand there and read her twitter and make passing comments about what she sees there.  There I sit with my hands on my keyboard and my eyes on my computer screen and she’ll just talk.  It distracts me from what I’m doing and serves no other purpose.

As it happens, this particular day K started talking about sopapillas and pita bread SOPA/PIPA.  I had just finished telling her that the more I heard people talking about them, the less I cared to know what they were really about.  Somehow this translated to her as, “Please explain to me why I should care about SOPA/PIPA.” and I admit that I was becoming angry.

So there I was, trying to work on something on my computer, with K in my doorway telling me about SOPA/PIPA while I tried very hard not to listen to her, not to engage with her in any way, hoping she’ll take the hint and go away when suddenly Karin pops up on my screen in an instant message.  I don’t really even know what the instant message said, I just know that it was a bit confusing and I didn’t understand the message.  I couldn’t focus on reading it and understanding it because K was distracting me.  I responded to Karin:

“Sorry, I didn’t understand that and I can’t focus on figuring it out because K is in my office talking to me, AGAIN!”

“This is so funny to me,” Karin said, “I can’t figure out if you like her or don’t like her.”

“I like her,” I answered, “for the most part.”

“OK.”

I got side tracked because K said something that ticked me off about SOPA/PIPA and I couldn’t keep from responding to it.  I went back to my computer and I typed, “We have a tumultuous history and as a result I feel the need to keep her at a safe distance.  I just don’t understand why she feels the need to come in to my office, uninvited and talk, when I’m so obviously trying to work.  ‘Work.'”

Karin didn’t respond.  A few minutes later, K finally gave up her lecture and returned to her desk at which point she said, “I think you meant to send that message to someone else.”  Yep.  I accidentally sent that message to K instead of to Karin.  I didn’t get embarrassed.  I didn’t say anything that wasn’t true and that she didn’t already know.  But I feel badly that K got her feelings hurt and that was not my intention.  I really do care about that and would have preferred that it not happen.  I rationalized it all; she’s reading one part of the conversation out of context and she isn’t bothering to find out more.  The behavior that led to that comment was unreasonable and she shouldn’t have been doing it in the first place. 

I also took some responsibility for my actions and my part in the equation.  If I wanted her to go away, I should have said so.  I can’t expect people to read my mind and if I don’t say what I want I can’t expect people to know.

And then I rationalized it some more.  K is an emotionally erratic person who doesn’t handle perceived rejection and negative communication very well.  If I had asked her to leave she wouldn’t have taken it very well and she would have gotten upset and made everyone miserable because of it.

This led me to realize that I have been taking the wrong approach, not just in my relationship with K, but in a lot of ways, to the idea of only controlling what I can.  In life, we can only control ourselves and our own actions and reactions.  It seems so elementary now, but in my early days of therapy this was a flat-out revelation to me.  The problem is, I think I’ve been going about it wrong.  In an effort to control how I react to situations, I’ve been trying to control the situations.  It is, after all, easier to not react to something negative, if the something negative doesn’t happen in the first place.  If I can prevent someone from getting upset and making everyone around them miserable, then the environment won’t become unpleasant and won’t negatively impact me… right?  Right?

This situation has helped remind me that I want to be a person who is able to be direct and honest with people (kindly, of course) regardless of how the person will receive it.  The thing is, though, when I’m direct and honest with a person I want it to serve a purpose.  I want it to achieve the outcome I was hoping for.  I want the person to retain the information and not have to be told again.  When that doesn’t happen it’s very disappointing and frustrating to me.  It makes me want to give up on the person and stop being direct and honest… only, I suppose the only one suffering then, is me.

I guess I still have a lot to learn…

Get Out Of My Head

It’s amazing really how quickly and easily I can get wrapped up in my own head.  I guess that’s the right way to put that.  I’m not really sure.

I re-read yesterday’s post and I realized I didn’t really covey my sentiments as well as I would have liked and I wondered why.  Do I not know what I’m feeling?  I thought I did.  Am I unable to articulate it?  I know lots of words but sometimes I’m not as good as I think I am at stringing them together in the right way.  Am I afraid to say what I really mean?  Possibly, but if so why?  And I think, really, that’s the answer.

For all the talk about how I keep this blog for me, and it’s my thoughts, and my commitment to honesty, and blah blah blah, I do find that as I – I’m going to contradict myself here – as I form connections with the very small handful of readers/commenters (there are a handful of people who only comment to me on Twitter) the more I think about these real people who will read my blog and what they will think when they do and then I start to sensor myself.

Part of my real life job, though not in my job description, is risk assessment.  I spend a lot of time thinking about how actions will affect people, how they will react to them.  I spend inordinate amounts of time planning for likely eventualities.  And I’m good at it, which perhaps doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

My point is, that’s kind of where my head is most of the time; planning, softening blows, anticipating outcomes and reactions.  So maybe when I’m writing, and I’m thinking about you and you and even you reading what I’m writing, maybe I’m getting too caught up in my head, thinking of all the ways you might react to what you read and how you might respond in your comments.  Maybe I’m managing your expectations, your responses, in advance, somehow.

I made a commitment to being honest when I started this blog, and I can say that I have absolutely upheld that commitment, unless you want to split hairs and say that a lie of omission is still a lie.  It’s true that everything I have said is true.  It’s also true that I have not said certain things for fear of the reaction it would get.  It is also true that I have… softened some of the things that I have said so as not to illicit pittying replies, or words of encouragement that won’t really hit the spot.  (See, even as I write that paragraph, I fear how it will be received; that someone, somewhere, will think “well, fine!  I just won’t try to encourage you at all anymore!  Hmmmph!” and I’m not saying that.  I guess the truth is, it’s not the encouragement that I want to avoid so much as the assumption I make in conjunction with that encouragement: that the person doing the encouraging now thinks I’m a pathetic, whinny looser.

So clearly, I need to work on getting out of my head.  Spend less time worrying about what you all will think, and more time sorting out my thoughts and feelings and making them make sense in written word.  I need to put more energy into “full confession” and less into “polite commentary”.

My commitment to you is that I will try.