Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Naming it more

Without giving too much specifics to it, I think a lot of my melancholy is tied to the whole thing of people taking a dislike to someone for whatever minor reason* and, as a result, choosing to cut themselves off from people who either are friends with that person, or who don't share the same dislike. Or, worse, trying to sow dislike of the person THEY dislike among the others.

(*I acknowledge that avoiding people who are cruel, abusive, dishonest, whatever is a good self-preservation strategy, but I am NOT talking about this)

The older I get the more I suspect that most of us never leave the schoolyard behind fully. While trying to do some reading this morning (in the service of updating my ecology lectures for the fall), the intrusive thought came about this. And it brought with it a visceral memory of the playground:

"Why are you friends with That Person? Why do you like That Person?"

Judgementalism starts early. As does wanting to run someone else's life, I guess.

And all too often, it seemed - though really, it was probably one particular situation in my life, though it feels like it happened more than once:

"I won't be your friend any more if you keep being friends with That Person."

And, understand: this was no kind of abusive situation. The That Person was not, say, an ex-boyfriend of the girl telling me not to pal around with them. That Person had not done anything to the other person, other than exist and maybe have some kind of annoying quirk.

But yeah: "I won't be your friend any more unless you drop them as a friend" is an awful weight to put on a little kid. How do you decide? It's like Sophie's Choice, in a way. And of course, I also had the fear of "what if I pick the wrong person and they stop being my friend anyway? Then I've lost BOTH friends."

I suppose the WWKSD (what would King Solomon do?) version of it would be to loftily say, "Then neither of you shall be my friend" and walk away from both of them, but I was a little kid DESPERATE for all the friends I had and the thought of losing one was agony.

I managed, somehow, by heavily compartmentalizing when and how I spent time with both, to keep both friendships up, and eventually the white-hot dislike that one person had seemed to cool, but....it still baffles me. Was it simple childhood jealousy? That my friend wanted me EXCLUSIVELY as her friend? (I find that hard to accept: I was not that wonderful or clever or whatever a playmate as a child). Did That Person offend my friend in some way I was totally unaware of? Was it simple childhood dictatorial passion? (You cannot convince me that many small children do not have a strong tyrannical streak that they badly need to grow out of).

But yeah. One of the discomforts in my life right now is that two people in my circle apparently dislike each other, and I cannot see why, and it both frustrates me and makes me sad, because I have to wind up trying to explain-without-really-explaining to other people who don't understand the situation why those two people should not be made to interact, and I find it just exhausting.

And it also irritates me, I admit, because at such a young age I got over that kind of thing....there are lots of things about lots of people that low-level bug me, but almost never is there a person whose flaws seems so extreme that I won't spend time with them. In fact, there are people in my circle who DO grate on my nerves, but they have other good qualities and I'm not going to ice someone out just because of my own personal preferences and....ugh. It's just, to me it feels like another instance of how I was taught growing up to "just deal with it" or "get over your hurt feelings" or whatever, and some days now it feels like I'm the only person capable of doing that. (And of course, I'm called on to soothe hurt feelings of others, but NO ONE EVER KNOWS when my own feelings are hurt (and I suspect some of them might either be baffled or not care that much).

So I don't know. I suppose some of this is the "Emotional Labor" junk that some women are saying we should rebel against. I don't know. A big part of me kind of plants her feet and goes, "No. I would rather swallow my own bitter feelings and have peace around me than let people know what I am really thinking and feeling and have to deal with the ultimate fallout" (though again that might hark back to the old threat of "I won't be your friend any more if....")

Why are people so blamed DIFFICULT? I just don't understand it.

Got home for lunch; the mail had been. In it, a solicitation for donations from Special Olympics.

And ironically (given the mood I'm in and the musings I've had), the back of the envelope said "Thank you for accepting us just as we are."

And....yeah. I get the point they are making there but sometimes I think maybe my unwillingness to call people out on some of the things they do (because I dislike conflict and I dislike turmoil) means I accept worse behavior than I should.

(That said, given the serendipity of the sentiment - I didn't throw the solicitation in the trash and maybe I even send them a few dollars. I never have before, but.)


Judy said...

The pecking order of chickens - humans are no better... or at least that is my jaundiced view of my fellow humans.

Roger Owen Green said...

I HATE conflict. People have NO idea what snarky things I COULD say if I only let me address their often oblivious bad behavior