I hurt Ferrett’s feelings yesterday, because I didn’t understand that he was in an emotionally vulnerable place.
I didn’t understand that he was in an emotionally vulnerable place because he’d been making a concerted effort to keep his vulnerability to himself, not to burden me with his misbehaving brain weasels. As a result, something that should have been a minor toe-trodding turned out to be really hurtful. Because from his worldview he was already doing as much as he could, and from mine there was no perceived effort.
The details of what and why are unimportant. What it made me think about is how darned much time people spend struggling with their own hidden demons, and how oblivious we all are when the brain weasels of others are chewing on the last nerves.
It’s tough to be a grownup all the time. There’s no one to give us a cookie, or even a pat on the back, on the days when simply getting out of bed feels like climbing a mountain, when our inner child is throwing a tantrum over taking out the trash but we do it anyway without complaint. When the dishes in the sink make us want to scream and stamp our feet, but instead we just clean it up.
And then comes the moment that pushes us past our ability to cope, and we get hurt, or yell. And the other person, dealing with their own brain weasels, is likely to be all, “What the hell?!”
It ambushes, and yet life would be so much worse if we didn’t control those demons and weasels. It’s exhausting to deal with people who don’t control them, and off-putting. But we are very bad at seeing beyond our own efforts.
If we’re lucky, the other person will get past the initial shock without too much defensiveness, and we can get over the hurt without it turning into a fight. If we’re *really* lucky, the other person will recognize the weasels gone wild and provide us with pats on the back and cookies (figurative or real).
For my part, I am reminded once again that when the person in the grocery store is surly, or a driver blasts a horn and gives me the finger, these people might not just be jerks. They might, in fact, be having a very bad brain weasel day, and just being on their feet and functioning is kind of heroic. I’m reminded to be patient, and give them space. Maybe some gentleness will make their demons easier to live with. Maybe they will be able to pass that on to others.
It’s a really good reminder and something to keep in mind day-to-day. Thank you for that.
One of the things this made me think about was how I’ve lately been trying a little harder than normal to keep my own stupid-brain in check without being vocal about it. I sometimes think that I tell Laura too often when I’m down because it makes me feel as though it must seem that I’m ALWAYS down. I’m trying to focus on the good, keep the stupid-brain off to the side, and power through.
I didn’t think about how this has the potential of causing issues, as you found out with Ferrett yesterday. I’m working SO HARD to keep the negative out of things that I end up not doing other things that should get done and I’m now seeing how this could reflect to Laura. “Well, he hasn’t told me he’s dealing with bad days and he’s always told me in the past, so is he now just being lazy?” (I’m sure she wouldn’t consciously think like this but the unconscious mind just does things, sometimes.)
Finding the balance between mentioning when I’m having a tough time so that she’ll understand what’s going on and talking about it so much that I seem like a whiner (though that’s probably just to myself) is going to be difficult. Thank you for making me think that through.
It is a lot that you are going through. Thinking of you with love.