abusive stories I don't tell myself
27 July, 2018
I, as a Joan Didion fan, regularly think of her line – “We tell ourselves stories in order to live…”. This sentiment encompasses most of her work, she explains that “… we interpret what we see, select the most workable of the multiple choices. We live entirely by the imposition of a narrative line…”. I guess we become editors of our experiences and histories, because we only have two eyes and a mind that fixates on patterns. These patterns encircle our subjective understandings, therefore confirmation bias moulds reality to corroborate our behaviour. I constantly wonder what my eyes don’t see and what my heart doesn’t feel, and I think about how I can perceive more deeply through my own distinctive kaleidoscope.
Recently a dear friend who supported and radically nurtured me this past year, messaged and told me that I made her life a tonne more stressful. She said that I took up too much space, physically, verbally and emotionally, and that I didn’t seem grateful nor make room for her to share what was on her mind. This is incredibly painful for me to sit with, especially because she literally changed my life, and single-handedly facilitated things so I could grow as a human. My friend unfriended me after she wrote to me, which is a decisive act, and that obviously hurts too. It just makes me more aware that the ways I interact with people can be abusive (which is a strong word but that’s what was clear my friend experienced). This hits me with an indescribable force, because for all my flaws and faltering, I try to always be guided by listening to others, kindness, gentleness, and thorough honesty.
However, I know I am very self-centric, not good at corresponding with those who I love, and have very limited capacity to even go out. These things are things that I grapple with, and I have for days, weeks, months and years. It, perhaps, is one of the most dominant contradictions that runs through my existence, because I love my friends so completely and care incredibly about them. It’s partially the damage of coexisting with, and being drained by, emotional instability for the majority of my life. Or is that just the narrative line I piece together to make myself feel better? Regardless, never ever hesitate to pull me up when I behave poorly. In my life, I strive to do minimal harm to others, sometimes I succeed, other times I fail, because I am sadly all-too-human. I can only keep trying.