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C10P40 – Wrong

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If you’re reading this, it means that I correctly bashed my computer with rocks in the proper order to ensure that a post was scheduled for today! Yay! Because right now I am probably on a plane coming home, hopefully from a very wonderful convention experience in Phoenix.

The personal core of this part of Mizha’s story comes from a mistake that I made when I was her age. It’s probably one of the most valuable lessons I ever learned, but also one of my greatest regrets. Race wasn’t an issue in my particular experience, but the mentality was the same. It was junior high, and I had somehow acquired a person that described herself as my best friend…but that I did not like. At all. I privately called her “the leech” in my mind, and I dearly wished that she would go away and leave me alone. However, I didn’t think I had the right to tell her that. I thought, in my 14-year-old “wisdom,” that it would be too hurtful to flatly end a friendship. So I came up with the “brilliant” and “logical” solution that Mizha does here. I treated her terribly, thinking that she would say to me, “How dare you treat me so badly! I deserve more respect! You’re a horrible person, and I never want to speak to you again!” My internal narrative was that she would feel good about herself because she’d stood up for herself. I’d clearly be the villain, but A) I had (and still do have) a very negative self-image and believed deep down I was a horrible person thus I’d only be earning my due, and B) I thought it would be justified because I would be doing it for the “greater good,” so it wouldn’t be my fault that I didn’t want to be her friend. So I got nasty. I was mean, sarcastic, cutting, snide…just…awful. I reflect on my behavior and am ashamed and sad. And I kept waiting for her to put her foot down. And she never did. It stretched on and on and on. I started to despise myself as much, if not more, than I disliked her, but I felt I’d committed to my plan and I had to see it through.

Then I caught her doing to other people what I was doing to her. Rather than oppose my behavior, she adopted it. She ate the horrible comments I fed her, and delivered them to other people. And I was horrified at what I had become, with absolutely no benefit to anyone.

That was the day I saw the merit of being blunt. I realized that ultimately it is better to draw one’s own limits clearly than try to manipulate someone else into respecting an invisible limit they don’t know. It took years more to learn that it was okay not to like people. That having boundaries didn’t make me a bad person. But the seed of that knowledge started there. I just wish it hadn’t taken so much misery to learn it.

What hard lessons have you learned in your life?

5 Comments

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Learning that it’s okay to not like people was a big one for me. Something that I only really accepted once I was in university. I realised that I had been nice to so many people who didn’t really deserve it from me, and had to try to rescue so many people (I was a compulsive rescuer) that it was time that I just enjoyed my own company and that of people who I did like.

Aaaaand life got better. I am civil to people I do not like, I am nice to people I do. Turns out, people then learn what your boundaries are, too.

I am sorry that you had to learn that lesson that way, but at least you learned from it, and life is if nothing else, about learning.

Boundaries are such a continual challenge and repeating theme in my life. I feel that if I ever could fully learn my limits, and how to establish and properly defend them, I would finally be able to make a little peace for myself. As it is, I fear they will be something I will be continually struggling with for the rest of my days. Ah well. As you said, life is about learning.

Oohhhh, Mizha, you have so many issues. D:

I was kind of that person you were picking on, TBH. I had a long string of friendships where the person just seemed to stop liking me at some point and tried to get me to go away, but I wouldn’t because I still liked them and they weren’t quite blatant enough for me to get the hint.

Then I made real friends and realized that people who like you do not encourage you to feel like crap.

I’ve concluded that we’re all less than we’d like to be when we’re young. It’s unfortunate that you had to go through that, but I’m glad you found healthy and mutually supportive friendships later in life. I think part of why I struggled so much on the other half of it was rooted in the same issue. I didn’t have many real friends either, and I had no examples of what actual friendship looked like. As I’ve gotten older and many of my old friendships have come under strain, I still wonder if I know. I think a lot of it is simply how interacting with other people makes you feel. As you said, real friends don’t encourage you to feel like crap. They help you feel at your best, even when you’re going through your worst.

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