Monday, April 4, 2016
Writing Lab: Good Old Black-and-White
It hasn't happened at all recently, as most of my social circle has long ago forsaken blogging for Facebook or Twitter, but yes. Looking back, I'm realizing that I've seen myself show up in other people's posts quite a lot over the years. However, the context varies, as does the tone.
I'm not even going to sit here and pretend I don't know why some people find me hard to stomach. I don't get up in people's faces or force them to listen to my critiques of who they are or what they're into. (If you approach me and ask though, it's another story.) I really do keep to myself for the most part, but people nevertheless can tell when I don't really return their interest in me or don't see them as being in the same league. I'm told it makes people feel dismissed, invisible, or otherwise unworthy of notice. Apparently that's much tougher to deal with than it would be if I were just... like... a hater. People can usually deal with being hated on, but they don't like being dismissed or ignored, so I've inadvertently made my enemies over the years.
Sometimes those enemies eventually decided they were going to let it all out in writing, usually someplace they know I'm likely to see it or eventually find out about it. They were too chickenshit to say what they wanted to say to my face and most never dared use my name, but it was nevertheless pretty obvious they were talking about me. I'm thinking of ex-friends mostly... and maybe a few acquaintances that wanted to be friends, but that I wasn't really interested in for whatever reason.
I don't know what these people thought they were going to accomplish. Maybe they thought they were going to put me in my place or make me feel bad about myself. Maybe they were desperate to provoke whatever sort of reaction they could actually get from me. I really don't know. What usually happened is I abruptly decided to cut the person off at the knees and end whatever friendship we might have had without a word. I guess I thought they didn't deserve my words or maybe I just couldn't muster the fucks to give. In most of the cases I'm thinking of, I barely cared about whomever it was to begin with anyway, so... at most, it felt like finally swatting a mosquito that's been buzzing around your office, irritating the shit out of you all day -- a relief, if it's anything.
That type of thing happens with people that once had more legitimate ties to me as well though. There are a couple of ex-boyfriends I have in mind, one of whom has been following me around and obsessing over my life since we casually dated in college... like... 20 years ago. A couple of Seth's exes used to do the same thing out of jealousy and anger that I was prettier, smarter, or more talented than they were. There are a couple of family members I've chosen not to remain on speaking terms with in this category as well.
It's not all doom and gloom though. As much as some people can't seem to stand me, there are others that say they find me inspiring. They like that I don't take people's shit or settle for less than what I want out of my relationships and friendships. They tell me that they wish they had my confidence or my self-awareness. And sometimes they express that in good old black-and-white right out there where everyone can read it. I even had an old middle school friend that I wasn't even sure remembered me write about how much it meant that I befriended her and stuck up for her at a time in her life when she had no friends. I've even seen people write about things I've apparently inspired them to do or become just by being who I am.
How did it make me feel to read all of these things? Well, I'd like to say that at least the positive posts overwhelmed me with emotion, but I'm not really wired that way. I most certainly appreciated what those people had to say, especially in cases where I hadn't realized I'd made that kind of a difference for the person. In general, I find it interesting to read what other people have to say about me in their own words though, positive or negative. All of it lends me insight that I wouldn't probably have had otherwise. I also like that I tend to leave lasting impressions on people, for better or worse. It reminds me that I have more personal power than I tend to think I do, just as a rule.