It isn’t often I share my innermost feelings with people. I certainly don’t share such thoughts with many. I tend to keep most things to myself, even when I probably shouldn’t. Particularly when I shouldn’t. So taking courage and expressing something that was bugging me, in what I presumed was a safe environment, proved to be a huge mistake.
After expressing myself, without prejudice, making sure as best I could but implicitly stating this was a no-blame expression of feelings arising in me, I was met with encouragement, empathy, compassion and understanding. I was also met with judgement, defensiveness and what was a subtle threat of withdrawing the hand of friendship.
I don’t respond well to judgement, defensiveness or threats. So I decided the best course of action was to remove myself from a forum and from company that was no longer safe. This lack of safety wasn’t something I had felt just that evening. There were at least two previous occasions where I bit my tongue, deciding to afford the situation the benefit of the doubt. However, on this particular occasion I knew it wasn’t going to be possible.
When someone reads something heartfelt I have written to respond, rather than reflect, I know they’ve missed the point. Unfortunately I wasn’t wrong. When faced with a situation, where I’m thinking where do I even begin to start with this shit-show, or occasionally individual, I weigh up the benefits and the drawbacks. In this situation I had to conclude, I was gaining more stepping back.
I didn’t scream in anyone’s face. I didn’t try to hijack, control or influence someone else’s friendship because choices I had made had not worked out. I’d simply felt bad and had processed it. The source was from my interaction with others and I had just wanted to discuss what had arisen in me to clear any residual negativity.
On reflection, I think I need to get better at recognising sincere compassion, from the pretence or formal enactment of it. Or maybe I need to hang with people with similar emotional intelligence and those actually capable of compassion. Whichever or both, I find myself in another situation, where I had given the benefit of the doubt, but now cannot unsee the reality. Being gaslighted by a guy in a relationship would be bad enough, but to witness an alleged friend do it, is just not something I can overlook. Mainly because it’s not likely to be a one off, and speaks more to a default behaviour.
In our friendships and relationships, there are key moments that define our character, more often than not when there is a struggle or one party is struggling. If we fail to recognise where compassion is needed and choose to react with censure, gaslighting, judgment and manipulation, then we should take the consequences and be prepared to be called out on it. Don’t even pretend to be hurt when you’re doing the hurting. Have a nice life.