I have family arriving today. They will be staying with me for a couple of weeks. For the last week I have been struggling to get my head into a good place to receive them. Most of the contact I’ve had with family in the last 6 months have been hurtful and distancing, so even though the ones visiting haven’t done anything, I have been feeling spiky and I’ve had to get my mental & emotional overreacting defences to calm down.
It wasn’t easy with the falling out with my other sibling being so recent. One phrase which has stuck with me was “you don’t care who you hurt”. What if it’s true? What if I do hurt people without realising it. What if in learning what my triggers are and telling people about them, so I don’t get triggered, is hurting them? Is that bad? Does this make me a bad person?
Rationally and logically, I know I am not a bad person, or a bad friend. My partners and friends who know me far better than my sister does have told me such, repeatedly, and with more repeats in the last week to try to help me out of this funk. My own rational, logical brain says such too. But there is a grain of self-doubt. A grain of “what if it was true’.
The fact is, I do have mental health issues. I do have triggers. I do have days where I can’t handle certain topics. And I do have days when I avoid certain people. Does any of this make me a bad friend or a bad person or a hurtful person? Does any of this hurt anyone? If I don’t accept my own issues and deal with them in a way that will enable me to live in society *most* of the time… I will end up coping less well and end up being able to spend even less time as a productive member of society in general.
I stand by what I said in the last post on friendship. Acceptance & friendships are both more an in-the-moment process than a know-everything process. Friendships are conditional upon a mutual exchange of benefits, of energy, or positive regard towards each other which result in a positive feeling in each other. When I have a drink, be it coffee or rum, with a friend, we are sharing the moment. We are not sharing our politics or our views. If we moan about something, it is something we feel mutually negative for, for example – our jobs, or bad parenting. If I have to spend 3 hours listening about explanations of why they are right wing, they would not stay friends for very long. But I can spend 3 hours with a right wing person who talks about something else like maybe a love of music, or for lord of the rings. Friendship is about acceptance in the moment, and not about changing one another.
Does dropping friends when they become too energetically expensive make me a hurtful or mean person? If I am not getting anything from them, if I face the meeting with dread and leave the meeting in tears, and if this happens more often than not…. Is it hurtful if I ‘break up’ with them? Maybe by not making my conditions of friendship clear from the start, and being very nice and accepting – and then suddenly turning around and saying ‘no, this is not acceptable’ is perceived as being intentionally hurtful. But is this me being hurtful? Or me being taken for granted previously and only when they have crossed a line and I point it out to them?
Friendship is a energy (or spoons) exchange. A mutually beneficial energy exchange is the hoped-for outcome of most friendships. If a friendship moves from mutually beneficial to draining on one… and the one who has been drained turns around and say ‘hang on, this friendship has stopped being beneficial, and I will need to reduce my contact with you for my own good’.. perhaps yes in that moment, it is hurtful. But it is a defence against being drained further, and it is a short hurt to stop a long draining hurt.
So, “you don’t care who you hurt”. I guess no… when the context is that I need to reduce contact with someone in order to reduce the energy drain to myself – no I do not care who the other person is. By that point it is about self preservation and survival. It is about maintaining my mental health at the level where I can function in society.