Literally, someone said this to me, I thought I was in an ad for domestic violence prevention or how to identify emotional abuse because this person with whom I thought was having a normal conversation with, lost his shit. Let’s call this dude, Joe for the sake of shits and giggles. A bit of context, Joe is one of these people who loudly proclaims that he LOVVVVVVES women and will do anything to make women feel safe and secure because he knows men are scumbags. Okay, sure, cool, great, allies are always welcomed. Yet, upon really speaking to Joe, he refers to both his mother and sister as bitches, speaks about them negatively, and while throwing some minor accolades in here and there he describes the women closest to him as being negative. Okay, so that right there is a red flag because a man who loves women damn sure won’t be describing his momma as a bitch. Fast forward to our breakdown (not the first one by the way), I am telling Joe about something I’d just accomplished and Joe says “You’re a talented, girl”, I correct Joe and I say, *woman. Joe says girl, woman, female, whatever it’s about the compliment, just focus on the compliment. Uhhhh no, because you can keep your fucking compliment if you think that means you can call me, girl. No bitch.
He literally sends me paragraphs about WHY I should allow him to call ME girl because that’s his expression and I should look at his heart and his intention and who he is as a man. I proceed to say, yea pal, I’m gonna need you to address me by my name, woman or queen (said in jest), and he continued to say I was arrogant, and I should really pay attention to how mad and frustrated I was making him because I wouldn’t let him address me as girl. He said I wasn’t being warm, my vibe was off and I was combative BECAUSE I WOULD NOT LET HIM CALL ME GIRL, because I told him calling women bitches is NOT the sign of a man who loves women, because bashing your mom and sister is cowardly and lacks love and because I wasn’t about to apologize for his lack of self-love which was showing up as major aggression and misogyny. He was being the man he claimed he was protecting women from and he perpetuated every single stereotype an abused abuser takes on in every way possible. Sad. Pathetic really.
My daughter has also been in a few dynamics with her peers which makes me very sad and wondering what triggers this behavior where the abused becomes the abuser. My daughter was repeatedly telling her very close friend to move over in the very small chair they were sharing because she was being squished and the other girl kept telling my child that she was being mean. Finally, another friend intervened and told her to move because she heard my kid ask her several times to move and no movement happened, eventually the girl moved but she was sad and sulky. This, in turn, made my daughter feel bad and feel the need to apologize to this child. I asked her, what are you apologizing for? She said because she’s sad, yes but WHAT ARE YOU APOLOGIZING FOR?!??!???? What did you do to contribute to her sadness? You asked her to stop repeatedly and she didn’t and she was forced to leave you alone, so where did you gets this idea about an apology? She told me that the other girl always makes her and her other friend apologize even when she’s wrong because it just makes her feel better. I was having a hard time containing my anger because I couldn’t understand why my child was letting another child make her apologize when she was the one in the wrong. The other girl was the one who was doing something to my child and then making her say sorry. I had to explain what manipulation meant because that’s what was happening. She could see it occurring to others but couldn’t identify when it was happening to her. I hated that. I hated that this friendship was based on comforting this girl who was getting away with doing nasty little things and never being held accountable for them because she’s perceived as weak and frail but really she’s not very nice to her friends.
How many times have we seen an abused person become an abuser? It’s a dynamic that’s scary because I wonder when does the switch become flicked? When does it occur to someone who had no voice, say or emotional safety become someone who oppresses others? I think with third graders and kids in general, they are finding their voice, their place in the world and their friendships matter a great deal to them at that age. However, adults who never actually find their voice, or work through their childhood abuse become someone who either overly asserts or completely shrinks. There was a pity I felt for Joe because in all of his paragraphs, cursing, yelling and screaming all I could hear was “you hurt my feelings.” He was feeling so inadequate, sad and hurt about his abuse from childhood yet that’s really what his identity was mostly about. Joe is still looking for love in the way that’s comfortable for him, he wanted constant warmth, no confrontation, and to live in a bubble where everything was nice and sweet because that’s where he feels like his safety resides. He molds women in the image of his expectations and any deviation and he flips. No human being is going to be exactly the way we want them, the sooner we realize that the easier it is to live and let live. Some people are not compatible and that’s okay, why be angry about it?
Happiness. Anger. Sadness. These are emotions that we can control and it’s okay to ride out all these feelings. The problem is when we allow these feelings to control and affect us negatively. The inability to control anger is dangerous. Blaming others or assigning someone the task of being responsible for our emotions is also dangerous and scary. We are wholeheartedly responsible for our wellbeing, and the steps it takes to ground ourselves. We cannot take inventory of our wellbeing and simultaneously put someone on a pedestal or make them the villain in our stories. We find our way through self-work every single day and all of the rest will follow.