Should have seen it coming.

I love it when people spout belittling generalisations at people who are suffering. Partner treating you badly? Parents driving you demented? Friends bringing chaos to your doorstep? You should have seen it coming!

Aside from the fact that, until anyone invents a time machine, this is fairly useless advice; aside from the fact that hindsight is always 20/20; aside from the fact that not all predators and psychopaths are also nincompoops, and those whose life depends on exploiting others can get pretty damn good at misrepresenting themselves. Aside from all this, what this pearl of wisdom completely ignores is the fact that people are actually capable of change, and can’t always control the nature of that change.

Everyone changes over time. Events can take place in people’s life that change them beyond all recognition – break them, warp them, corrupt them. People who used to be a blessing in your life, people who used to bring you happiness, security, joy, and support, may tomorrow turn into negative influences, bringing only grief and struggles.

Sometimes you can extrapolate how people will react in certain circumstances, but that’s not always a given. Furthermore, you can’t always anticipate what circumstances they will have to go through. Spouting that you ought to have been able to foresee how people may react to an event you did not anticipate, and that is unlike any other event they have gone through, is a bit optimistic. Different people have different limits, but everyone is ultimately breakable. (If you think you’re not, I hope for your sake that you are never proven wrong, but more than that I hope that you understand that this makes you unlike most mere mortals. I personally don’t know anyone without a breaking point.)

Spouting that we should all immediately jettison anyone who doesn’t come up to scratch any more ignores that sometimes people don’t fall as much as stumble, and we can actually help them back up. It also ignores the fact that by dumping people at the first sign of trouble you may cross the line between “injured party” and “contributing factor”. We are each other’s safety nets.

Sometimes broken people find a way back to themselves, and to us. Sometimes they don’t. It’s the hope that they will that keeps us holding on to them – that, and soppy stuff like friendship and love and honour.

All and still, sometimes people go to far, and force you to chose between them and yourself. And then you have to take steps to sever your bond, which can be less than simple when you’re dealing with a damaged person. There may be all sorts of risks, costs, and losses associated with making that cut. And right at that point, when you’re trying to protect yourself from them while you rebuild your life sans them, some bright spark comes over and tells you that “you should have seen it coming”, because today’s nightmare person is obviously no good… completely disregarding the fact that the person you originally formed a bond with was entirely different, and you may still be grieving for the loss of them.

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