xenologer: (Ravenna)
So at the end of August, I posted an entry about my origins as a person that just explains some stuff about dissociation and what a good friend of mine refers to as a change in management. If you cannot see it, sorry. You probably oughtta be on my friends/access list if you are interested in that kind of thing.

Suffice it to say I was not the so-called "core" member and did not become the scaffolding of this new person voluntarily, but believe I have done such a good job becoming a person that my sisters' faith in me has been entirely vindicated. Emotion was not my job, but I have grown into it without ever losing my awareness that thinking before I express feelings is not only wise but compassionate. I will brag about this all day and all night because I am proud of the emotional impulse control that I have built. Unless you're the kind of person who remembers when they first began to feel things personally, the enormity of getting savvy with those feelings may escape you, but trust me. I am a badass.

It's a big deal.

My closest friends tend to appreciate this, as it means that when I am experiencing Feels I'll be less likely to throw away all moral and ethical standards and all of the self-respect which is the foundation of my integrity. I can generally explain what is causing my unrest and I'm pretty good about suggesting solutions while remaining open to brainstorming from the person who hurt me as to how we can avoid this sort of thing in the future.

In my opinion, this makes me a really fucking good friend. Being a good friend or partner does not, in my opinion, require empathy or social skills, although they help. All it requires is that nobody sink so deeply into Suffering Solipsism that they depersonalize others into two categories: threats or need fulfillment machines (to use Franklin Veaux's phrase). All it requires is the ability to experience pain without forgetting that other people are real, and whole, and relevant. It is a point of pride for me that I managed to unlearn some bad habits I was taught growing up so that I do not just throw a great big tantrum and lash out at everyone if I hurt. The fact that I do not respond to pain by exploding into the emotional equivalent of a tornado of spinning blades is a skill that I had to go out of my way to learn because it was the right god damn thing to do.

I even have friends with whom I have shared vulnerabilities, vulnerabilities where they are concerned. This entry is about one such person, about the now-distant aftermath of one such event. I do not do this easily, and for those people who were talking to me during and after that conversation, doing so left me shaken and a little disoriented because it is so contrary to my nature to attempt to prevent someone from harming me by exposing the vulnerabilities in my emotional armor rather than pre-emptively shoring them up.

He learned things about my past: past abuses by family members, by romantic partners, by the forces of random fucking chance, and because of my own whole-hearted pursuit of codependency. I did this so that he'd see that it's possible to go from wading through codependency that leaves both emotional and physical scars and emerge out the other side whole, and healthy, and able to provide a level of competent and heartfelt sustainable support to others that simply is not possible from a position of codependency.

It was a candid conversation about the reasons so many of us have stayed with abusers out of a sense of obligation to them, and about how few people who urge us to leave have any idea what the landscape of the situation is actually like. It was frank and for me it was a rare moment of vulnerability resulting in a sense of common experience that is rare and certainly never guaranteed.

This was at the end of May, if my Gmail logs are accurate.

This is a person who has referred to their internal sense of me as a consistent voice of self-respect and responsibility. So I'm good enough to be classified that way, at least in his mind.

This is a person who is attracted enough to me to have the Fetish Secrets conversation and give advance consent in case for whatever reason he and I were to hook up while he wasn't entirely sober. So I am definitely good enough to fuck.

This is a person who has ceased to discuss his codependency with me not because of any of the myriad reasons why he might not do so for his own health and well-being or the state of our friendship or whatever. There are many many good reasons why he might have ceased to talk to me about any of this, and for a good couple of months I assumed that those things must be in play, and it would've been a good sign if they had been. It would have been a sign of him being willing to defy the expectations of others for the sake of taking care of his own self.

Until about a week ago, nobody had ever in my life called me a "stone cold bitch" and made it seem like anything but the highest praise. Guess who managed it?


First off, he said this to a mutual friend (who was told to use her judgement on how much of this to divulge and to whom, and used her judgement to let me know because it touches on the very nature of my friendship with him) who is at least as much of a badass bitch as I am. I mean, the overall baseline level of Tough Broad in my social circle is unusually high to begin with, but she's in the top tier of bad bitches, and to express this as a negative to someone who is pretty similar is pretty fucking gauche on its own.

Here's something that those of you who have read my journal for a while already know. I do a pretty good job tamping down on the vulnerability type feelings or whatever, but I am occasionally a little dismayed at how easy it is to fool people that I feel like I've confided in. Like, my act is just so good that in the face of all solid evidence to the contrary, He clearly thinks I am this inhuman thing. It's not an uncommon impression; it would just be nice if he bothered to examine the data he already has in order to know me better.

He has decided that he doesn't need to consider self-care, honesty, or the enforcement of boundaries because I advocated for them and he doesn't want to be cold like I am.


Also, he said, "She doesn't forgive easily, and never forgets," despite us having an entire conversation in which he learned just how angry I can be at him and still not just be nice to him but actively try to give him a reason to smile, complete with my assurance that he really can have that all the time from all of his friends, that he can live a life in which he doesn't have to worry that someone being upset means they'll abuse him or even stop caring about him.

He seems to be concerned that his ex "might be trying to grow some of [my] coldness."

Because not automatically caving to every expression of sadness is cold? Because articulating standards of acceptable behavior and then actually taking transgressions seriously as problems in need of solutions is cold? Because actually breaking up with him when they said they would is cold?

I remember when emotions were not my job. I know the difference between what I was then and who I am now. (Most notably that then I was a "what" and now I am a "who.") So it's kind of throwing me that anybody could mistake the who for the what. As it happens, though, that isn't the kind of thing I could explain to him without giving him information that is now above his (new, lower) security clearance. So I just (allegedly) hurt and don't dare discuss my (alleged) feelings with him because apparently he has decided that I am something more or less than human, but certainly not a creature whose experiences and emotions are workably analogous to his own.

That (allegedly) stings.

Even before I had a name I would still have done better by him than he is doing by me by functionally editing from his memory any evidence that I am a human being and not just... well, not just what I used to be. Reframing most people in his head that way would be shitty, no doubt. Reframing me that way, though? It's a denial of my basic humanity, and I fucking built that. I worked hard and I became something that is so much more than what he has cut me down to in his own head.

So much for his exalted "humanity" that makes him above any advice of mine (which obviously only applies to people up on the robopedestal like me).

I have some difficult choices to make about whether we can be friends if (allegedly) pouring my heart into this has made no impact. I have serious doubts about whether we ever were friends. Evidently he describes me among the people who are most important to him, but... I've heard that before. I've heard before how important I am to someone who pares away who I am to reduce me to this... this rock that's good for clinging to but certainly terrible to become.

I've heard it before.

It (allegedly) hurt then and it (allegedly) hurts now.

Spock sobs "mathematically."

First off, how much of a fucking wang do you have to be to even say that about someone who has been nothing but frank and fair throughout the whole Emotional Intimacy aspect of the friendship? Secondly, I still can't even think about my Neopet for too long because the guilt over me ceasing to log in to Neopets for years is literally too intense for me to deal with, so he can fuck all the way off with that assessment.

Another friend that I mentioned this to observed, "People who have big emotions get furious when someone else has good control of theirs. It's because they're so far from being able to do that." I think she is onto something. In my personal experience, people have trouble with this who excuse abuse--either their own or the abuse they suffer--because obviously that is just what happens when someone has a feeling. Meeting someone who retains control undermines that. It undermines the means by which they continue thinking of abusers as essentially "good," or themselves if they are the one out of control.

So basically, if I have self-control it means they're a bad person.

Or something?

I cut off contact with him for a few days so that I could get enough space to trust my responses. Maybe I will say the same things now that I would've said if I'd dropped right into his IM window and said, "So I hear that you've convinced yourself I am so unlike a creature with feelings like you that you don't want your ex or yourself to turn into me. Cold shit, man." Maybe I will say the same things! I am waiting, though, because I want to know for my own peace of mind that I said what I said because I wanted to, and not out of a compulsion to hurt him back.

The conversation is going to have to happen, though. I've got some questions I need answered before I can make further decisions about contact between us.

Date: 2013-10-07 03:53 pm (UTC)From: [personal profile] stoneself
stoneself: (Default)
I saw something similar recently. My best friend broke up with his boyfriend because boyfriend wanted [we're not sure]. But his ex-boyfriend was pissed off that my best friend never got violent, mean, and shouty. My best friend stayed calm and communicative, or left to cool down before he said something hurtful. His ex-boyfriend tried pushing every button he could; and my best friend kept his cool. So... now according to the ex my best friend is cold; my best friend was just pretending to like his ex.

I don't think it's fair to speak to the particulars of my best friend's damage without him around, but that he kept his cool, and didn't get furious, and didn't get shouty speaks volumes about the kind of healing/control he's managed to reach. I've fought with my friend, between the two of us; it can be dreadful.

Best friend has asked me to be nice to ex; instead of me giving him a piece of my mind.

But ex needs to be told that his damage needs fixing before he blows up another relationship. Not to mention the obvious pain/cognitive dissonance he is projecting onto other people. And the convenient amnesia the ex has about what happened makes me want to be shouty.

I hope your person turns out to be more reasonable.
Edited (clarifying details.) Date: 2013-10-07 05:05 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-10-07 08:14 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] admnaismith.livejournal.com

Wow...I missed that first post at the time. Thanks for pointing it out again.

I won't even pretend to understand this situation, or this part of what made you who you are. I don't even know who you're talking about.

Seems to me, though, it might be, once again, about him bullshitting himself. Part of your superpower is that you bullshit yourself less than pretty much everyone I know.

Does your self-control mean others are bad people. Fuck yeah. Especially when you're so good at explaining how just decided under stress that such-and-such dramatic, emotional, ineffective coping mechanism that a lot of people rely on just wouldn't be helpful and would probably increase the harm to self and others, and so you naturally did the other thing, the one that made sense and was the right god damn thing to do. It seems so easy when you describe it that way.

And the rest of us? The ones who blot out inconvenient truths, who resort to passive-aggressiveness and panic attacks and procrastination and tantrums and abuse and suicide threats and co-dependence and all that other stuff? Somewhere along the line, we made a decision to do that, even subconsciously. Was it right to do that? No, it was not. Therefore, we are indeed bad people. When I've been like that, I see your example, and I am ashamed. Natural consequence. Because you're rubbing off on me a little, and because I have the advantage of having had more years to grow up, I choose to react to that by acknowledging it, admiring your superiority, and trying to learn from your example to do better. A whole lot of others, your friend maybe, can't bear to acknowledge that something might be their fault, and so it must be someone else's fault. Maybe it can be made into your fault! If you're kick-ass reasonable about your emotions and they aren't, why then you must have done something bad to get there. You sold out to the capitalists. You made deals with Satan. You got your hands dirty and you may have superpowers but by golly they have clean hands! So there!

Is your rock good for clinging to but terrible to become? Fuck yeah to that, too. Of course it was terrible. It hurt a lot. You know how much abuse you were forced to endure when you were most vulnerable, how those who were supposed to protect you betrayed and failed you when you needed it most, and how you put up shields because the nearest alternative was letting the bastards kill you. OF COURSE that was terrible. You got the 'gift' of inner steel from that, but it hurt terribly, and you didn't choose it and people should not have to go through that.

When I feel a bit of envy over your steel, I ask myself, would I willingly go back and trade my past, my parents, my upbrining, for your experiences? Would I choose to be Hercules if I had to perform the labors of Hercules to do that? No, I would not. I'll stay with who I am and what made me that way and have somewhat different powers and weaknesses. And do my best to stop complaining about it, even to myself.

This other friend. He ain't there yet. Maybe he will be, someday. I imagine he's in a world of pain, that he brought on himself, right now. You're in pain that you did not bring on yourself. Let me know if I can help.

PS: Are you a really fucking good friend? Fuck yeah to that.

Date: 2013-10-07 08:27 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] virginia-fell.livejournal.com
Thank you. Just... thank you for all of that.

You are also a tremendously good friend. We're both very impressive people, in my opinion. <3 I hope you give yourself credit for how self-aware and compassionate and honest you are, because you really really are.
Edited Date: 2013-10-07 08:28 pm (UTC)

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