Complying with unreasonable demands

Sometimes you will be confronted with unreasonable demands from others.  People at times set conditions for relationships that are grimly unfair:  whenever I’m upset with you, I get to confront you immediately; you have to patiently respect my right not to deal with your hurt until some time far in the future.   I cannot be patient when I’m in great pain, you must always be patient and calm with me when you think I hurt you.   Shit like that.

You can say these kinds of conditions are endgame scenarios, they are imposed when everything is so fucked up betwen people that all they have left is their reflex to defend themselves at all costs.   I wouldn’t argue.  In a mutually empathetic relationship you will not encounter these kinds of unreasonable asymmetries.   They arise from long held grievance, which accrues until the weight of it becomes unbearable to one party, who then feels compelled to inflict it on the other party.

These childish conditions are imposed in an unthinking attempt to make things right, somehow.  Everything harmful that I do is purely unintended, a mistake, forgivable human weakness, for godsake, and everything bad that you do flows from your disrespect, malice and sadism.

“You are a reflexive sadist, I realize you can’t help being a sadist, probably, but that is your default setting for treating others, or at least for treating me.  You’re aggressive, threatening and mean as a goddamned snake.”  If you have a productive response for that, one that will change the view of the speaker, you’re more inventive than I am.  When someone frames things to me that way, in stunning black and white, it’s time to move to the next car.

I have a friend who listens patiently to my horror stories.  He is sympathetic, offers whatever insight he might have, tells me a related story from his own life.  That is truly all a friend can do when we are up against it, listen, relate, offer his best ideas.  Our need to vent sometimes has us persist, once a friend has done all these things.  At that point my friend would nip that shit instantly with a simple “wee, wee, wee!”, said in a mocking, singsong cadence reminiscent of a crying cartoon baby, or piglet.

“Wee wee wee!” is a great, shorthand evocation of this kind of childish need to insist, beyond the limits of all reasonable conversation.  It makes me laugh, snaps me out of it, as I realize I’m now behaving like a fucking giant baby — and that I don’t have to.

Death during life

The finality of death is a crushing thing.  A cherished conversation ended, forever.   The chance to fix a once-precious, broken thing, irretrievably gone.  Traces of the little quirks that endear us to each other remain, remembered fleetingly, painfully at first.  Death reduces the dead person to the memories of those who loved her.  That we all must go there is little consolation, it’s the opposite of consolation, really.

Death during life?  That is the death we decree on others who have crossed a painful line too many times to endure.  “You’re fucking dead to me” is the cry of pain we direct at those who prove over and over that they will not yield, for any reason.  Once they are dead to you, of course, the painful dilemma — trying to unilaterally resolve things you cannot resolve to save a relationship that is already dead — is over.  The gangrenous foot is surgically removed, a prosthetic foot is attached and, after a short period of rehab, you walk better than you have in a long time.

I think most people have experienced this addition by subtraction, the relief it produces to finally not force yourself to bang your head against an immovable object,  a locked door, an adamant refusal to acknowledge hurt a loved one cannot personally feel. Your hurt reduced to peevish triviality when weighed against their own pain and anger.

I recall the wonderful feeling of lightness, waking with a great weight removed from my shoulders, neck and head, after an unusually good night’s sleep, when I have finally told someone turned monstrous to get out of my fucking face.

Whenever I’ve found myself being bullied by an old friend, given an ultimatum, held responsible for their pain and inability to behave reasonably, urged that only denial will solve what is bedevilling my sleep, the only relief, in the end, is removing myself from the situation.   You win, I lose.  I take myself off the chess board.  You are absolutely right, have a nice day and a very nice life.  It can be done politely, if you want, but the finality of it, when that moment comes, is also unmistakably clear.

I am dead to them while still alive.  Their pride will prevent them from reaching out, no matter how painful my death during life may be for them.  I have rejected their version of love, after all, an unforgivable thing for a dear friend to do.  In a case where I reached out after several years of estrangement, my old friend, although delighted and relieved to hear from me, was unable to reach back, being too neurotic to resume the friendship he claimed to value above all others. I don’t take it personally, it’s not about me, intimacy is not in his skill set.

Though it’s a very painful thing, there are worse tragedies than death during life.  Few relationships live forever.  People change, come to value different things.  People grow apart in their beliefs and their needs from others.  Understanding is not the universal coin of human affairs and love is not a magical balm that can heal things we can never touch or understand.  We are “wise apes” and we do the best we can in a violent and largely irrational world.  Sometimes we resort to cannibalism.  What else can you do when the place you used to live is now under the sea and you and your twenty million neighbors are on the move with nothing but the dead to eat?

The cost of lying

A lie can cover shame, sure.  It’s done all the time.   We can tell lies we can argue aren’t actually lies, they are just ways of sparing some pain, to ourselves or others.   There are gradations in lying, too.   We can lie in a way that is, arguably, basically truthful.  We can leave out just one key detail, more or less accidentally, and satisfy ourselves that this small omission was completely justified.  Without that troubling detail, the rest of the story makes more or less complete sense, so what is the harm of the “lie”?

Because we now live in a culture where a lie, unless told under oath and punishment for perjury is actually pursued, is no longer a big deal.  So, I lied, so what?  I wasn’t under oath, only loser chumps take an oath not to lie.  Everybody lies, and you’re lying if you don’t think you’re a fucking liar too.  And if you don’t lie, you take the fucking Fifth, like a man.

The analysis is fine, as far as it goes, which is not far at all.   When you accept a lie you choose your poison.  

Why is the United States poised for an era of stochastic terrorism, angry, unbalanced men, rabid lone wolves, poised to do deadly violence to themselves and others, always ready to be triggered by an angry suggestion that this person or that is deserving of death? [1]  

Because the widely accepted lie that one party is run by demented, murderous, child-raping Communist blood-drinkers is as accepted (among a solid 30% of Americans)  as the one that Blacks are irrationally angry about nothing, that Jews are about to replace all “white” “legacy” Americans with brown dupes, that elections lost by your candidate are rigged by these all-powerful Commie traitors, etc.  If you are angry, and alone, and everyone else in your social media silo also faithfully believes these demonstrable lies are true, and you have lost faith in everything else, and an assault weapon is legal and readily available in your state, why on earth wouldn’t you take out some of these demonic scum in your heroic last act on earth?

What is the cost of accepting a lie, being faithful to defending a lie to the death?   It costs you your integrity, your authenticity, your credibility. It also costs the ability to ever solve a problem or conflict based on what actually caused the problem or conflict.

As in politics, so in our personal lives.   If saying something that is true enrages or humiliates someone you know, you tactfully avoid the topic.  Some topics are easier to avoid than others.  If it is a shameful single event, unrelated to anything else, that you both acknowledge is mutually painful and worth avoiding, it’s reasonable to agree to not bring it up anymore.  If the topic is honesty itself, that’s a tough bridge to cross with your relationship intact. 

“Uh, OK, we can’t talk about why it’s better to be honest than dishonest, OK, let me try to remember never to say anything that might bring up that flaming bag of shit.  Honesty is overrated, LOL!”

To me, the cost of my integrity, authenticity and credibility is too high a price to pay, in most situations.  Then again, I have a lifelong issue in that regard.  Life itself, making a living, often requires limiting the scope of one’s integrity, authenticity and even credibility, in the name of going along to get along.  Too much insistence on a right to be whole, and treated by others with the same care you give to them, can make you as welcome as an agitated scorpion at a baby shower.

On the other hand, if you are honest, you will understand that the price of lying is almost always unacceptable.

If we don’t trust each other, what kind of love do we have between us? What kind of savage world do we live in?

[1]  Walking neo-Nazi pustule Steve Bannon called for the death of Anthony Fauci, and his family, on his podcast the other day. Free Speech, bitches.  First Amendment, you fucking blood-drinking Fauciist cucks!

Mediation to solve a dispute

Some conflicts lend themselves to mediation. Mediation, when successful, results in a compromise that gives each party more than they had when they came into mediation. Each party leaves a good mediation feeling that they now have enough.

My mother always felt that my sister and her children were ungrateful. She felt this because none of them ever said thank you when my mother took them to dinner every week. It burned my mother that my sister had never taught her children to say the words “thank you, Grandma.”

My sister’s position was that parents and grandparents give things to children and grandchildren out of love, and not in expectation of a show of gratitude. It annoyed my sister that her mother expected a polite show of gratitude from children she considered perfect as they were.

In this situation, had they been willing, a mediator could have made a great difference. The issue was very clear, and how to improve the conflict was also clear.

For purposes of their grandmother only, my sister’s children could have started saying “thank you, Grandma.” It would have made a big difference.

But, of course, my mother and my sister both insisted the other one would never agree to go to mediation and I dropped the idea after a while. The conflict lasted until the last days of my mother’s life.

In the situation where the conflict is “you hurt me” versus “no I did not, you fucking asshole,” I’m not sure what role a mediator would play, outside of hearing each party’s grievance against the other. Where is the mediated compromise in a conflict like this?

When trust is gone between two people

When trust is replaced by fear and defensiveness, your relationship is moribund, dead or starkly inauthentic.

Superficial friendship may be the best many people can do. It has its virtues. It rarely, if ever, hurts, it can be easily walked away from, should the need arise. Only a troubled friendship that felt like mutual trust and love over a long time can rip your heart apart.

“You broke my heart,” says one, feeling unfairly blamed for everything bad that happened between them.

“I did not, you just want to blame me and end our friendship.”

Set and match, if the stakes involve anger and a shudder of humiliation that makes honesty way too dangerous.

Stop Comparing Tragedies, dummy

Michael Rappaport makes an excellent point — we all have to stop comparing horrors. Suffering is not a goddamned competition.

The slave trade was murderous, it’s hard to imagine a worse life than being an American slave in 1850. The recent genocide of the Rohinga, last century’s slaughter of the Armenians, two holocausts among several. In between those genocides the Nazis built death camps, taking it to the next level.

Your new religious faith aside, Kan Ye, abortion clinics are not Auschwitz. And your self-avowed mental illness is not a defense for spreading insane hateful ideas, pant load.

Apologia

Sorry, I keep forgetting that everyone I know is much more sensitive than I am.

That was not your loud, cloying fart, it was my auditory and olfactory hallucination and I should seek psychiatric assistance for my florid psychosis.

I’m sorry for your pain and sad that I can’t carry it for you. Maybe meds or talk therapy will help.