For more years than I care to admit, I tried to figure out why people were insensitive and downright mean and cruel when I hadn’t done anything to warrant that. I thought that my mere presence just brought out the worst in people because I was fat, shy, and ugly. I thought that I was too much of a weirdo for people to want to treat me right. I also thought I disagreed with too many people, too on so many things. But over time I really began to think that it wasn’t about me.
I’ve been gnawing on this for a few weeks now and I’m going to put it out here: if someone tells me they were hurting and lashed out and were insensitive and cruel and they knew that was wrong, I don’t know if I can accept that. Because when I’ve been in my worst times of pain, I never thought of lashing out at people in a hurtful way. I just wanted to curl up in a ball and hide somewhere dark and silent. But I think this was because I didn’t expect anyone to help me solve my problems, or even hear what I was thinking and feeling. I think this ‘lashing out’ is a bid for attention and seeking attention is something I’ve never really done and have enormous issues with now.
I know there is more complex psychology to people who lash out with insensitivity and cruelty but to me, we’re all endowed with free will. This free will gives us the ability to think and make decisions based on careful thought and not impulsive behavior. And I think most people don’t over-think things like I do, and like most anxious people do. Most of all, I think anxious people compartmentalize thoughts and feelings and keeps those compartments tightly closed. But to me, people who are insensitive and cruel put stuff like kindness and compassion in boxes and closed them up tightly so they don’t have to deal with them. Because to me, kindness and compassion are hard to deal with at times because those things make me want to care more than I think the world will allow me to.
I will also give room to the thought of people misdirecting their anger at others. I know I’ve felt angry at things that I wasn’t really angry about, but because I felt like I couldn’t confront what I needed to, I had to let that out somewhere. But for people who are insensitive and cruel, I think they come to use misdirected anger in order not to deal with what they should be dealing with. This is where my ‘hemorrhoid cream’ bit comes into play.
I think we’ve all had people in our lives who came up to us and told us to drop everything we were doing to deal with their crap right now. That always made me feel like I was doing something wrong in minding my own business and taking care of what I needed to and was responsible for. And it was hard to say no to people who demanded this because they were not good at taking ‘no’ for an answer. Over time, I began to feel like I was being used to try and soothe an angry itch or worse, they had an axe to grind and found my weak-willed back easier to use than dealing with their own shit.
Luckily we have a tool today that many people use and that tool is called ‘establishing boundaries’. This is when people say ‘enough’ and ‘no’ and stand on it despite the artillery barrage they’ll have to endure before that stops. It’s one thing to reach out for help in a kind and honest way, that’s alright. But to demand someone fix you immediately and then get angry when that doesn’t happen… that’s not alright.
I’ve established my boundaries by isolating myself to some extent. I keep my distance because I don’t want to deal with someone being demanding and me having to get tough. No one should have to be tough like that and by God, I do think we all know better now. I used to think I had to try and soothe people who were never going to be satisfied with anything I said or did. I used to think that I had to strive for perfection that isn’t possible. Now I’m just here doing my thing and living my life and wanting one thing above all: wanting to be there for someone in a way that I have never had.
But in the meantime, I will give this piece of advice instead: you are not someone’s hemorrhoid cream. You were not put on this Earth to soothe someone’s mis-directed anger or problems they’re not willing to work on themselves. And most of all, you don’t have to be perfect just because someone can’t accept you’re human and deeply flawed. No one deserves to be treated like ass-cream.