Some of the responses from the last blog pissed me off and disappointed me in equal measure. This is unsurprising, given the content of the blog and my not-so-zen-master’s-like temperament. However, the direction from which I was vexed and disappointed was indeed surprising. I guess I should be glad of that.
I was expecting a lot of “hark at the little lady, talking overemotionally about stuff she knows nothing about, bless”, and there was none of that (though I’m sure it will come; when it comes to tripe, the internet always provides). What I got instead was a lot of “I too was a victim(TM) so I know what she needs, and what she needs is her feelings validated, so she can feel empowered and liberate herself from this paranoia!”
Now, I’m paraphrasing because, oddly enough, every time I see one of these posts and step in to comment, the post magically disappears. Poof! However, Scout’s honour, I’m reflecting accurately both the gist and the language of said posts. Lacking an actual piece of writing to fisk (come on, internet! you know you can do it!), I’m just gonna rant free style.
I need my feelings validated? I seriously can’t even begin to get my head around that. I routinely ask people to bullshit-check me. The people I ask are a. friends of mine and b. experts in the field I’m tangling with. I ask them because I value their opinion. One of the reasons I value their opinion is that I know them to be impartial observers AND ruthlessly loving towards me. In a nutshell, they will tell me if I’m full of shit. They will NOT validate anything I’m feeling or doing if it’s not appropriate. They will, however, support me through unclogging whatever thing is causing me to do or feel inappropriately.
That’s just how I roll. I am aware that other people do things very differently. I’m also aware that some people just like to have a Greek chorus. I am not one of those people – I don’t consider them wrong for being that way inclined, but that’s not the way I’m inclined. Anyone believing that I’m one of those people doesn’t get me. Anyone insisting that I am in fact one of those people and I’m in denial is – oh, I just wish I wasn’t trying to cut down on my swearing. Let’s just say that they are not friends of mine, and they can’t be friends of mine, and sure as hell they will never be the sort of people whose opinion I value, because they’re clearly coming at my life with an agenda all of their own, which doesn’t include any respect for how I am wired, and, yes, how that makes me feel.
What feelings, exactly? How do I feel? How do you know? Because I haven’t noticed you taking the time to ask me. You appear to have decided what my feelings are right around the time you decided I needed them validated, and without checking in with me.
You too are a victim? It’s hard for me not to snark, and snarking here would be totally cruel and inappropriate. Having gone through a personal experience of your own may make you better able to empathise with my personal experience. However, that only really works if you’re willing to consider that our experiences might not have been identical, and even if they were that we might have responded to them differently. Otherwise, you’ll be no better at understanding me than a book expert who’s read only one book. In fact, you’ll quite probably be a lot worse, because you’ll be too busy telling me how I’m feeling and what I’m needing to understand where I’m coming from. Add a sprinkling of unprocessed emotions, and our communication breakdown is likely to be epic.
I need to feel empowered? No. I need and want to BE empowered. And for me empowerment comes from knowing I have the resources and skillset to affect reality if necessary. It’s the result of a cold, calculated evaluation of my risk management. It has nothing, NOTHING to do with fear management.
If all you’re doing is pandering to my emotion in the hope that it will make them dissipate, you’re not empowering me. And if I am actually still at risk, and you’re trying to affect my risk perception without affecting my ability to risk-manage, what you are doing is putting me in danger. Unless I’m completely incorrect about my risk perception, that is…
I need to liberate myself from this paranoia?
“paranoiaparəˈnɔɪənounA mental condition characterized by delusions of persecution, unwarranted jealousy, or exaggerated self-importance, typically worked into an organized system. It may be an aspect of chronic personality disorder, of drug abuse, or of a serious condition such as schizophrenia in which the person loses touch with reality.”
If you’re gonna call me insane, at least you could buy me coffee first?
Soooooo, you’re planning to validate my feelings, but you believe my feelings are delusional? And you believe so even though the whole damn point of the blog I originally wrote is that my problem is in fact a flesh-and-blood problem that manifested itself right outside my garden gate, and was only put off by a moody Rottweiler?
Congratulations, here is your Mental Gymnastics gold medal.
Let’s look at it another way. I live in a flood risk area. I don’t know this because I’ve spent time looking at hydrological maps, historical records, and the like. I know this because I’ve spent many a day listening to my neighbours’ emergency water pumps while watching my garden turn into a pond, and wondering whether the water will make it to the door.
I am concerned about the risk of my property flooding. It’s real, it’s not going away, and my ability to deal with it is not getting better; in fact, it is decreasing (and before anyone gets on the ‘reject your limitations’ twaddle train, I broke my damn back three years ago. There are consequences.). As my perceived risk increases, my concern increases too.
So, on one side I’ve got people who believe that, because my concern is unsupported by what they consider to be valid data, it’s invalid, so they’re trying to just wave it away. On the other side, I’ve got people who believe that my concern is delusional, but in order to make me feel better they want to validate this delusion of mine.
And all I’m trying to tell all of them, and anyone else who’ll listen, is that I’d really, really appreciate some practical advice on flood defense.
Why is this so damn hard?