On Dealing With Others

This is cliché, but I’m not a “people person.” That primarily has to deal with the misadventures of growing up the wrong way in a public school system. I’m sure of it. Regardless, being “outgoing” or “affable” aren’t my primary traits. Without you all being surprised, I had quite the tongue by the time I graduated high school. I was often hard to handle.

My family says I’ve mellowed out some since then, not much but some. It has taken several years to not instantly berate or rip apart anything that lightly smelled of an insult or slander. I still have my moments where I read things the completely wrong way and think “thanks, <expletive>, you can stick it up your <expletive> and do some jumping jacks.” I’m giving the benefit of the doubt to people more than before. It does help, because it has occurred to me that my wording is a lot more keen than many Americans. When I write or say something, chances are good it’s very deliberate and very sincere. That’s a deadly combination. Others seem to communicate as if they lost their brakes during rush hour.

My hair stylist explained to me this past Tuesday of my “no sass mode,” which apparently means there are times I just don’t take anything from anyone. I thought that was everyday, but apparently I get in a mode. She says she watches my statements and the harder they get the more she knows I’m having a bad day. She and I are friends on Facebook. So, she gets the pleasure of see my blistering comments on everything from politics to the hockey puck that couldn’t understand what “right of way” meant.

This may sound all tough and whatnot at first, but I’d change it if I could go back and do it all over. Far too many times have the lessons of the past scarred my actions of the future. That’s not to say there are events I want completely undone, rather just training to not automatically think the worst of someone and act upon it. History can repeat itself, but it’s better to work on making it not.

It affects my life in all sorts of ways, but my work needs me to approach the public in a different way. This isn’t just the general public; these are people who can’t help themselves. Often less educated and less trained than myself, many have no concept of manners or cooperation or civility. They take what they think is theirs, and feel free to mouth off in any way to get more. Sometimes it gets injurious, and that’s a big tripwire for me. I had one rather wonderful woman tell me “you’re afraid of me. ” What took the strength of a thousand men to keep in was “no, I’m not afraid of you. I’m afraid of losing my cool.”

There was an episode of Law & Order on a few nights ago I just happened to catch at the tail end. It dealt with bullying, and the criminal mastermind was seeking revenge upon his enemy. The police had him in the interrogation room wheedling a confession out of him by saying “the effects of long-term bullying last well into adulthood for the victims.” It’s the God’s honest truth. That stuff doesn’t go away for targets, even when the instigator has long since forgotten all about it. It can’t be wished or willed away, and all of the programming associated with it doesn’t simply dissolve. It take years, maybe even decades, to revise the mind to adjust well with the world around them.

I would like to stay positive about this, even in the face of permanent harm. It appears I have been given a better intellect than many of my contemporaries. Although I could have clocked a much higher IQ in school had I not been held hostage by a vicious community, what’s left is better than average. No matter how painful, I’m better a diplomat than a degenerate.

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15 thoughts on “On Dealing With Others

  1. Occasionally I have the same problem, but it seems to be more a product of my hormones when I’m in P.M.S. mode now. I used to feel insulted more when I was younger for some reason. Then, I changed. It was pretty drastic and I entered this mood of not giving a shit and detachment. But some days…

  2. I agree with you on the bullying. Even when you reach the stage where you think that it’s “over”, it’s not. It (can) stay around for quite a while. And what’s hard is when the bullied (I don’t want to say “victim”) receives positive feedback from others, but still can’t appreciate it, because they do not believe that they are worthy of praise. Even when the bullies have long forgotten what they did, the bullied do not forget.
    –JW

    • I can remember when a girl in high school was asking me out “for a friend.” The compliments l received burned in my head because I thought she was jerking me around like so many others. Sometimes I sit back and wonder how much of that gushing was just youthful babble and how much was true insincerity. Self-esteem is very hard to rebuild.

  3. It was a life epiphany the moment I realized nobody cares what I think. It happened in my late 30’s. Now, if I could just stop caring that they don’t care, I’d actually get somewhere. 🙂

    • It’s less a matter of content versus quality. I’m not opposed to people holding radically different outlooks on life just as long as they don’t treat me like dirt. I’m so done with people treating me like dirt to get what they want.

  4. Love the “no I’m not afraid of you, I’m afraid of losing my cool”. It’s very difficult being “careless”, in the sense of being “carefree”, as opposed to the sense of being a bull in a china shop.

  5. rockettattoo says:

    Anyone who encounters me in my current state would most likely would find it hard to believe I once was: bullied by others, socially awkward, and painfully shy. I firmly believe that I owe my current comedic, sarcastically mouthy bravado to the fact I learned to use my mouth as both a sword and a shield. Mad Magazines, Looney Tune Cartoons, these little pulpy books that taught put down lines, and whatever source I could find and absorb was welcomed into my scarcastic/insulting verbal arsenal. It seems to be a trend though, the worlds most celebrated comedians, musicians, entertainers, and bloggers were bullied.

    • I’m often the line in the sand for others, more like Gandalf the Grey because I like Sir Ian McKellen’s acting. If I ever acquire mounds of wealth. I’d like to dedicate a portion of it to anti-bullying organizations to help the children today become the comedic wits quicker without having to tote that burden alone for as long as we did.

  6. Laura Lynn says:

    Hmmm, I think you touched a sore point with me. I have, on occasion, flown completely apart and blown up at people. Family or strangers, don’t matter, it’s all about my perception being wrong and seeing things, not as they are, but as my shitty day (or whatever prompts the outburst) dictates. I still cringe when I think back…

  7. If you read my most recent blog, you would probably relate as I undertook some severe bullying. I don’t have a harsh tongue, but I am easily hurt…and it sounds like you are too. I think it is hard to build up self-esteem again–I was such a confident little kid–but I don’t think it is impossible. Just takes a lot of work. xo

    • Yeah, there’s a lot of retraining involved. There comes a point where you think everybody’s the same, but people don’t know you well. It’s putting them at a disadvantage and then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when they react like you thought they would.

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