There are people out there that really do think they know what is best for you. And they try to control conversations because they believe that certain things will trigger you and they don’t want you hurt… when what really triggers me is being treated like an emotionally damaged child.
I lash out at such behavior. I find it condescending. I find it patronizing. I don’t find it helpful. But every single one of these people thinks in their heart (I think) that they are being helpful and kind by watching out for me in ways they determined I need.
They aren’t being assholes. But it comes off that way to me. They don’t understand why what they say comes off as dismissive to me. Why I should feel bothered at all by their attempts to be sensitive. It’s the equivalent of a pat on the head… a paternalistic, condescending gesture… not meant as an insult, but as a comfort. And the patter never understand why the patee would slap his hand away.
Then of course they are mystified by my ire towards them. They don’t think I should feel hurt, so that is puzzling to them. And now they want me to apologize for hurting their feelings… which I am very slow to do, because they aren’t going to stop talking down to me. Not now. Not tomorrow… really never.
And I can never explain to them how that makes me feel in a way they will understand.
I had one friend do this and it really rankled my hackles. He gave some half hearted apology, insisting that the did nothing wrong and that I shouldn’t feel how I feel. So I asked him about our friendship and he gave some flip answer and said I should move on.
That was years ago. And last night I rehashed the whole argument with him online. With the exact same result. He really does believe that I shouldn’t feel how I feel and that his controlling of topics of conversation to avoid triggers in my life that he has identified is not only perfectly okay, it is a sign of caring. This didn’t make me happy.
But this really is my grief, my emotions, and my shit… not theirs. Intentions do matter. And I should stop treating them in the same insensitive way that they treat me. I should not repay condescending bullshit with condescending bullshit. I am in many ways emotionally crippled… and although I seek empathy from those around me, there are people that don’t know how I am feeling, or understand what this is… there are those with significant deficits in emotional intelligence that don’t understand feelings. So intentions do matter. And they judge themselves, as we all do, by their intentions… not by the feelings their behavior triggers.
And that isn’t their problem. My feelings are not their problem. And expecting people to be something that they are not is not their problem.
So I will apologize for my response to them over the year. For treating them like I feel treated. For making them feel how they make me feel. Because in the end I am still sad, and depressed, and they don’t need to join me in that. They didn’t create that nor did they intend to amplify those feelings. And really that needs to be enough.