… is something I have done for far too long – and is, I know, why I got so angry yesterday. We all – or most of us – do it at some point in our lives, if only because most of the major religions (in whose creed so many of us were raised) preach love and tolerance and giving people a chance.
Do not get me wrong: I rate all three of the above highly and try, in my personal life, to live with them in mind whenever I can.
But, in order to do so, a human being needs firm boundaries to start with – and a clear sense of what is, and what is not, acceptable behaviour (both in oneself and in others).
Consistent, or long-term serial, abuse blurs those boundaries – and makes the line between acceptable and unacceptable ambiguous to say the least. Instead of two firm fortresses, one is left with a terrifying spectrum composed largely of opinion and fear crammed with Venn Diagram overlaps in which successive dominant personalities (or just the one) have placed their justification for cruel and manipulative treatment of others.
All too often, confronted by the stark red warning light in one of these Venn Diagrams, I have given the abuser the benefit of the doubt – and, what is worse, blamed myself for provoking the abuse.
This is dangerous.
On my previous blog, just to give you one example, I received four or five unacceptably unpleasant and offensive comments from followers. In each case, the writer had taken what I had a written as an excuse to attack me about my personality and all the defects he/she could see, or to tell me that I was pathetic and the author of my own book of woe, and should damn well grow up and do something about it.
Back then, I was terrified, shaking, so scared that I froze – and, of course, blamed myself for being this utterly inadequate human being and, thus, provoking such truths. As I saw them…
And so, in each case, instead of going for the jugular, I scraped and grovelled and agreed and apologised and hoped to appease the other writer.
As in writing, so in real life. I have, I think, taken the blame by default almost every time an abuser has struck, whether that strike be the teenage girls kicking me on a bus when I was twelve, the unknown man who sexually assaulted me when I was thirty or the drip-drip poison of mind games from those who cannot or will not face what THEY are because they are too busy trying to prove how sub-standard I am!
In all cases, the subtext is that I asked for it, was complicit in the abuse – and, in some cases, even enjoyed it.
And, in a very real sense, I – and people like me – ARE complicit because of the deeply-entrenched habit of feeling compassion, and making excuses for, our abusers.
We blame ourselves. We blame the abuser’s awful childhood, strict or absent parent, an early bereavement. We empathise with the abuser’s sadness, or anger, or needs – and put ourselves second because we have been brought up to cherish others and put them first. We adopt our abusers’ mindsets – even when we sense that they are wrong and sick and suggestive of borderline personality disorder – because we are afraid that they are right and we are weak, spineless creatures who need a firm hand.
But, in some cases, light does eventually dawn – as it has for me – and we see that, whilst by no means perfect ourselves, we often did not deserve or provoke the abusive actions of other people.
So: Girls on that long ago Oxford-bound bus – I was NOT looking at you. You chose to kick me, in the stomach and the head, because you were bullies and took strength from being in a gang.
Unknown Man: I was NOT wearing provocative clothes, nor was I making myself available for sex on that dark September night. You chose to attack me for your own twisted reasons.
To those who, after the event, said, ‘Oh well, at least you weren’t raped!’ learn this: The assault was a violation anyway and has caused huge damage emotionally.
To those men who have sent me images of their private parts, nothing in my writing justifies such behaviour – and, if you cannot see the difference between a middle-aged woman writing about sex and a tart who gets paid for it, you need help. You have chosen to titillate yourselves, and to invade my privacy,with something which should, by rights, be kept for your girlfriends and wives.
And finally, to those who have worked so hard to persuade me that I am evil, weak, pathetic, self-centred, wrong-thinking and inferior, I no longer have room in my life for you.
I have run out of tolerance. I have stopped being willing to make excuses for other people’s nasty behaviour towards me. I have realised that some people who want to vent their own spleens, or whose buttons I have inadvertently pushed, cover this with the thin sheet of justifiable (in their minds, not mine!) criticism – and tell me, in so many words, that it is for my own good and a sign that they care!
Bollocks! Genuine care does not include verbally attacking a fellow writer on his or her own blog.
What people reading this blog need to realise is this: I write for me, and to exorcise my own demons – and to bathe in the world’s light and beauty and fine qualities. I do not write for YOU. I do not know you (with two or three exceptions) and, if you choose to take my posts personally, to feel that I am attacking you as an individual, that is your decision and your problem, not mine.
I have made an exception today because these things need to be said – but I have not named those responsible, nor will I. All bar one of the bloggers mentioned followed me in my old blog and are no longer in my writing life. Thank Goddess!
My advise to anyone starting out as a blogger: If any comment on a post you have written makes you uneasy or afraid, if you feel uncomfortable or sad or angry, do not accept it. Delete it. Discourage any further attempts. Report the other writer to HQ. Do not make excuses for their nastiness. Do not blame yourself. Be clear that this constitutes ABUSE. Get tough early and you will, with luck, avoid the worst of this kind of nonsense.