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The reward for doing a good job is being ignored [Jul. 28th, 2015|12:57 pm]
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.

[User Picture]From: ba1126
2015-07-28 06:51 pm (UTC)
From very early in our marriage, when I got pregnant and was "touchy"(to put it mildly!!) we developed a code sentence "I am not in a mood to be trifled with!" This warning saved a lot of grief and we still occasionally use it when a warning can prevent a meltdown.
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[User Picture]From: brujah
2015-07-28 07:10 pm (UTC)
I spent two and a half years so wrapped up in myself that when my man had his emotional meltdown, I was pissed off. I was filled with, 'he should have SAID something if my shit was too much!' -- and never paused to think that he's shy and sometimes has a difficult time communicating his feelings, even with me.

It's been a long couple of years in our household and we're all worn emotionally thin. I'm trying to not be a self-focused shit, even when I am scared of blood test results and doctor's visits. Even when my numbers are teetering on the out of remission thing. Because it's not just me affected. Seems silly to say out loud, because intellectually I know I'm not the only one affected.

But it still needed said.

Thank you for reminding me to keep fighting the good fight.

Edited at 2015-07-28 07:12 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2015-07-29 12:36 am (UTC)
Sending so much love.
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[User Picture]From: mplsindygirl
2015-07-28 10:01 pm (UTC)
I almost thought I was reading about my weekend here. My partner and I just worked through a difficult spot and today he said that our conversation on Sunday really helped him to realize where his head had been and what he was doing without meaning to. Communication, in love and kindness, has gotten us through some really rough times. We both cope withvarious types of "brain weasels",, with varying levels of success.
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[User Picture]From: bunny42
2015-07-28 10:59 pm (UTC)
Your last paragraph illustrates a classic "paradigm shift." Ever since I first read about the concept I have tried to remember that not everyone is just a jerk or an asshole. They just might have problems of their own. It's very instructive and helps me deal more successfully with potential confrontations. You two seem to have a good handle on it.
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[User Picture]From: jeffpalmatier
2015-07-29 12:29 am (UTC)
I read a story somewhere in which a woman had this lady shout at her in drive thru. Instead of getting angry, she recognized that this lady had little kids and she was having a day where it all gets too much with that responsibility. The woman paid for her order and the mom started crying because she was grateful somebody was nice to her and felt bad at lashing out when she was in pain.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2015-07-29 12:37 am (UTC)
I remember that story. It's beautiful.

Edited at 2015-07-29 12:37 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: bunny42
2015-07-29 12:50 am (UTC)
It's from 7 Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen Covey. He relates a another story about a father of little children riding on the subway. The kids are running wild and he is seemingly oblivious to them. The riders are incensed that he's such a careless, discourteous father. Little do they know that his wife is in the hospital dying, and he's just come from there. His mind is full of sadness and hurt. He doesn't even notice the kids. It's all in how you look at the situation. The concept of giving people a break is a tough one, sometimes. But if you believe in humanity, you kind of have to step back and look at it again. Of course, sometimes, a person is just an asshole, but I like to think the majority still have some decent values. It's what keeps me from running screaming into the sunset.
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From: anonymousalex
2015-07-29 01:11 am (UTC)
I am going to get myself a cookie.

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From: ratfan
2015-07-29 03:26 am (UTC)
Awesome post :-)

I just love the idea of brain weasels. They all need a scritch behind the ears sometime....


Sometimes I wrestle with my demons
Sometimes we just snuggle.
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