Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I Am Not an Animal

I'm a little bit of a sentimentalist. I send my friends Valentines, in part because I remember the pain of having not been the recipient of very many in the years that our teachers didn't require students to bring a card for every other student in the class. It was humiliating to collect my doily- and sticker-covered box to hear a very few little cards shuffling around the bottom; I think my all-time low was five. Even in those years, when there were several people in my homeroom to whom I didn't want to give a Valentine for various reasons, I did it anyway because it was the nice thing to do. I guess it was best to start learning about rejection then, because developing the ability to not cry in front of people came in handy later when the rejections were more public and brutal.

The reason it's on my mind today is because a friend's love interest really enjoys manipulating her emotions, slapping a mouse trap shut on them when she seems to feel more than he is willing to permit. He makes plans and blows them off, then accuses her of being ridiculous when she calls him out on it. The universal opinion of people who know her is that he's a jerk and she should leave him, but sometimes things are more complicated than that- I concur that she should, but I understand why she doesn't.

I made the mistake of sending Hopkins a 'friend' Valentine last year. The card had a penguin on it. At the time he was living with his mother and aunt, and when he received it, he made a huge production out of being upset to the point of near-revulsion (this information was relayed to me by his aunt). So yes, a huge overreaction, and when I caught wind of it, it was horrifying. The simplest way to consider it is, "To hell with him, I shouldn't care what he thinks," but I do care; nobody can make you feel worse than someone whose opinion you've permitted to matter. Also, if he is really my friend, you'd think he'd might have reacted more as, "Oh, hey, a penguin," instead of "Dear God, I have just received a card from the most hideously subhuman and loathsome creature on Earth!" (Is it just me, or does that sound like something that The Oatmeal would come up with?)

As I wrote to my friend in the wake of her latest pain, we have to give ourselves permission to feel self-respect, if we're not getting respect from people in whom we are emotionally invested. She and I have disconnections with interpersonal relationships in similar ways, and I'd love to lock this dude in a room with Hopkins and let them have a "Who's the Worse Asshole?" might end in a dead heat.

The holidays are going to be hard enough for me this year without dwelling on so much negativity, but watching her tie herself in these knots brings back the awful loneliness I've felt most of my life. We deserve better- anybody does- but there are days that my belief in how realistic that is wanes. I'm not a perfect person, by any means; I just wonder why some people think it's a waste of time for them to treat me like a human being and not an offense to their sensibilities.

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