Category: rant

When it’s not about you

*trigger warning for discussion of rape*

So this is for those people who fail to consider other people before looking for their own emotional resolution.  Those people who demand closure or their emotions handled when the epicentre of something bad happened to someone else they know.  I do get that generally we are self centred individuals who think about our own suffering before others, but we should perhaps consider not opening our mouths when someone else has every reason to be suffering or grieving more than we do ourselves.

It is not the job of the person/s who are in the epicentre of some terrible event to consider the feelings of other people who are peripheral to the epicentre.  The epicentre sucks, and the concentric circles of closeness from that event also suck, but they suck less and less than the epicentre.

Let me give some examples, one that I’ve experienced myself even.  When a partner of 18 months left me to be monogamous with his other partner, someone I had hoped to receive some sympathy from when I told them the news was upset with me because I didn’t think of her feelings in telling her this news.  She expected me to sympathise with her over the loss of a potential relationship she might have had versus the actual relationship I’d lost.  She was angry that I didn’t sympathise with her, even though I was completely unaware of her potential relationship.  She’d made it all about her and failed to consider where the epicentre of hurt was in this instance.

Another scenario, one I’ve heard more than once, when a relationship breaks down and someone not in the relationship exclaims their disappointment at the relationship breaking down, wanting some kind of support for their pain over hearing that the relationship is over, without any consideration for what the person is telling them feels about it.

Just like when someone discloses to you that they’ve been raped, the focus should not be on the listener’s feelings about the whole issue:

Maintain the focus on her. This is tricky, because each rape victim is unique and the response they need from you may vary from person to person. I have in the past said not to react with anger, because that puts the victim in the position of having to talk someone down from committing murder or assault, but I’ve since heard from rape victims who felt that anger in response to their stories was helpful and cathartic. So I will amend my earlier statement to say that expressing emotion, even strong emotion, is probably fine, but do it while remembering that this moment isn’t about you so much as it is about the victim. Communication is very valuable here: “I’m going to kill him!” is very very unlikely to be helpful, but saying “I know this isn’t about me, but I’m just so furious at him. Is there anything I can do for you?” is one way of expressing strong emotion while still affirming that you are there to help the victim, rather than she being there to talk you down from homicide or console you at being confronted with rape culture*. [ana mardoll’s ramblings]

So, if it isn’t about you, don’t make it about you.  Be there for the person at the epicentre of tragedy, because if that was you, you’d want exactly that.  Don’t make the person/s at the epicentre have to care for you and take time away from processing their own emotions and reactions about the tragedy, don’t give them more work in having to care about you.

This has been your friendly PSA for the week.

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Those who have been brought up with some kind of Christian background are likely to know the ideal of forgiveness – that the loving, “Christian” thing to do when someone wrongs you, is to forgive them.  After all, Jesus came out with (amongst other things in the bible about forgiveness):

“Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” (Matthew 18:21–22 (NIV))

I have a problem with this, and it is as follows.  If you are being called to forgive someone who isn’t sorry for what they’ve done, someone who isn’t aware that their actions or words have hurt or harmed you, how are you supposed to deal with that hurt or harm and forgive someone for sporking your eyes, being careless, making your world unsafe, etc?

That doesn’t really seem fair.  I get that forgiveness would be a useful thing to push in a small community to ensure that cohesion is maintained, but it also is open for a lot of abuse, if the same powerful figures continually hurts or harms someone, and expects to be forgiven, where is the safety, justice or consideration for the hurt or harmed person?

I’m all for being angry at being sporked, angry for being hurt, and angry for harm caused.  I don’t see any immediate need for someone to forgive, forget and move on with their life, especially if the action that caused hurt or harm is one that the perpetrator is either unconscious of, or not sorry for.

The weirdest bit is the guilt of not forgiving someone, or being rightfully angry that you have been sporked.  Because the message that forgiveness is so important is laid on thick (at least it was in mine and several other Christian childhoods I know of), that when you refuse to forgive someone right away, it’s a very weird thing, in that you have to deal with both the guilt and the anger/hurt.

In the end, I suspect that moving on, not dwelling on the issues, getting over it, whatever the process is for you, is a kind of forgiveness – however, there is no need to forget.  I may eventually move on from things and people that have pissed me off/hurt me/harmed me over the years (as I’ve moved on from many, there are some that I have not yet done so), but I consider each sporking incident educational and not something that I should ever forget.


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It’s time to grow up

There are some people I know, who I think are fantastic in many ways, who have a trait that tends to bug me a lot.  It’s this, an ability to tolerate/indulge certain (mostly negative) behaviours from individuals because they need to be that right now, or that they need to feel that it is ok to be that right now.  The thing that gets to me most, is not that my friends tolerate/indulge these behaviours from these individuals, it’s generally that I am expected to tolerate/indulge this behaviour as well.

If I complain about one of these people and say, “Ow, my eyes have been sporked“, then far too often I feel that the other individual (often masculine oddly enough) will be defended, and I am expected to attempt to compromise around their behaviour and it’s negative impacts on me.  I feel that I am expected to be the grown-up while the other person is often indulged in whatever tantrum, bad behaviour, etc, that they are undertaking that I am objecting to.  “Oh but you don’t know where they are right now” and “But they’re not really like that” aren’t good enough.  Compromise is not a one way street.

If someone is being an arsehat, then I’m going to call that out.  I understand that the support I’m going to get from some of my friends is going to be seriously lacking, but that’s going to be ok.  Because right now, I clearly need to be angry and intolerant of all arsehatted behaviour.  I will be spending a lot more time being intolerant of arsehats and the negative impact that has on me.  Because it’s time we all grew up.



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