I was perusing my Facebook feed the other day, reading all the things people are currently experiencing – the amazing, and the horrendous – with some drawing on past experiences or situations as they shared; things I know about them, that I’ve read before, or have even been privvy to at one level or another.
It struck me how true it is that we really don’t know what’s going on with people. We make assumptions based on … lots of things really. How they look when you see them, if they look happy / sad / tired / whatever in photos, and what they post on their social media profiles. All of these things can be a mask, some greater than others, but we are also swayed considerably by our own perceptions and perspectives.
Sometimes we want to see others in a ccetain light; we look up to them, for example, and don’t want to see any flaws. If we do, we wind up disappointed that they are merely human.
We want to see them as beneath us, because it helps justify our own actions and behaviours, or makes us feel better about ourselves.
Neither of these is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. It’s just human nature. We have an innate desire to compare, to compete, to justify ourselves, and to know we’re doing something right and, hopefully, fitting in at some level.
As I read through some of these shares, I reflected on my own sharing. How do I appear to others? What am I doing that leads people to think a certain – any – way about me? How am I pereceived by others? Why do some people get it so far off what’s really going on?
I realised I don’t really share a great deal. Whether it’s what’s going on at the time, or what I’ve experienced … and why I can genuinely empathise and understand, when apparently I have no experience or knowledge of …whatever it is.
I don’t say much for a few reasons; some of it I am well aware of how some things may be perceived incorrectly, blow out of propertion, or merely skewed to the perceptions and understands of those reading.
I am well aware that there are possible repercussions for my kids; whether it be opportunities within their schools, employment, friendships, bullying … whatever.
A significant part is I choose not to delve too much into them. They bring me pain, they send me into dark places I prefer not to go to, and I know I’m vulnerable to this. I know I can get caught there, either too deeply and darkly, or I’m just a pain in the arse and annoying to others. I don’t like to drag people down.
I also don’t want to have others in a bad light, or for them to be perceived as bad people, who did bad things … all that has happened, I am okay with, forgiven, and I bear no one any harm. Most people invovled won’t even see this; people who have not been in my life for years, decades even, but still provided me with experiences that give me understanding of various circumstances.
Other stuff is still happening …
Perhaps I should spend time delving into these experiences, to face them, address them, clear things up, whatever. Maybe I already have. Maybe I just choose to be one of those really annoying, positive people.
I won’t, because of my tendency to be too dark, too down, to pragmatic to be that obnoxiously annoying. Maybe obnoxiously annoying in other ways, but not in that face-punchingly positive way.
Or am I? I have no idea.
I don’t even know if there are ten things you may or may not know about me … it sounded like a good number at the time, but my brain is really tired right now, so I’m just going to go blah …
I have experienced domestic/family violence; both physicl and emotional; where public humiliation was a favourite hobby, where abuse for making the simplest of mistakes occurred; where my self esteem was ground down to nothing … please don’t jump to conclusions about how and when this occurred, or even who may or may not have been involved. It was soemthing that happened with different people, at different times in my life, and in different ways.km
I have been in several accidents, which I came out of unscathed … a car I was driving was hit in the driver’s side door, by a Valiant doing 80km. The chassis of the car broke, and every panel was damanged. I walked out with a small bruise on my shoulder, and some titchy cuts from the shattering of the windscreen. I can’t explain this … I just know it happened.
In my teenage years, I spend a lot of time around paraplegics and quadriplegics, to the point of sharing a house with two of them. I heard their stories, felt their pain, understood their frustrations and obstructions, and how much of their lives were altered by their various accidents that led them to this place in their lives.
I know, first hand, what it is like to be a motherless mother – through choice and through circumstance.
I have been through the process of assessment for Autism Spectrum Disorder, for the same child. It is, as many suggest, extremely confronting, emotional, confusing (although also not confusing), and, basically grab a handful of emotions, throw them into a pot and give them a stir.
I live with a child with ASD. It is tiring a lot of the time. Other times it is loads of fun. He’s just a kid …. but some days, like now, I am emotionally drained. Some days are hard.
All three of my kids have been described, by teachers, child psychologists, school welfare personnel, and school counsellors, as “complex” … my life is one big ball of energy draining … something. And loads of laughs.
I have been drawn into a sexting dilemma, which resulted in one of my kids being bullied, ostracised, and ultimately suspended from school (admittedly, he did something really, really fucking dumb, and he knows it and owns it) … becuase he refused to participate in the sharing of nude photos of one of his female friends. He went so far as to try to stop it from happening, and to stop her from sending these photos; he came out looking worse for wear, and she like the angel she appears to be on the surface.
I have been through a full year of one of my kids being bullied and taunted by a teacher. To the point he was coming home from school saying he was “stupid” – beause she had told him he was – and saying he just wanted to die. To kill himself. Every week, I was at the school, trying to deal with something. I later found out that he was sometimes drawing attention to himself, because she was also tormenting, bullying, and traumatising the dyslexic kid, the kid with mental health issues, the kid with autism …
I have experienced workplace bullying, being overlooked for positions, unfairly dismissed. I’ve been in some workplaces where this was just the culture and the way of the manager; just the way things were. It was horrible for a lot of people at the same time. Which made it all worse.
I’ve been called a lazy bitch, an evil mother, and excluded from conversations about childbirth and parenting, because I had c-sections. For no other reason that that.
There are a lot of experiences I haven’t had, too. I haven’t had cancer, nor have any of my kids. Trips to emergency have been relatively insignificant, and short-term drama. I don’t have a child or husband with a serious illness or disability. I haven’t been raped, attacked, abducted.
Maybe this is why I don’t say much. That whole “could be worse” thing. So I don’t say much because, well, others have it worse, and in the scheme of things, these things are pretty minor and irrelevant.
There are also a lot of people talking about these things; about abuse, about bullying, about autism, and, all of it. I feel I’d just be adding to the noise. The people talking about these things, and more, are doing an incredible job on the raising of awareness, sharing of stories, providing support and encouragement already.
I think the point of this is that we really do never know what someone is going through, or has gone through. We don’t know what empathy and support others can provide us, because we can be so closed, and assume they know nothing about it because they “haven’t experienced it”.
As I reach the end of this (which has taken me three days to write) I can’t really remember my point … maybe just to really reinforce that we can assume so much about others, and never ever really know all the things about them. That whilst some people are very open and sharing, sometimes oversharing, they may not tell you all the things.
Or maybe we just now live in a culture where we think everyone opens up about everything, and it never really occurs to us that lots of people actually don’t.
Many of these things I have mentioned, and many I haven’t, have shaped who I am (how wanky cliched was that?!) but I have also dealt with them and don’t feel the need to talk about them. Or maybe I just don’t want to. Or maybe I just don’t want to with certain people.
Others I see as “just life” and whilst they may be shitty and exhausting and not ideal, I am realist enough to know that these are things that happen to millions of people, all day, every day, and I am not special in my dealings with them. None of us are. It’s just that many of them are not spoken of as though they are rife in our society.
Partly because we are still transitioning, at a societal level, from understanding that children with autism are not best suited for confinment or institutionalisation, to undersatnding that autistic children just have their own special set of quirks. For want of a better way to articulate all of that.
Not to mention the whole “bad mother” thing, whereby a fair chunk of the population are still of the opinion that things like autism are nothing more than the inadequacies of the parent (mostly the mother, but let’s not get all gender specific and sexist – even thought that is actually what is going on at a broader level – we’d hate to offend anyone with the actual truth, wouldn’t we?) and the guilt and feelings of inadequacy many of us with children of ‘different needs’, whatever those needs may be, feel. So we don’t speak up, and we continue to inadvertently perpetuate the belief that no-one else is dealing with this stuff.
Maybe I just don’t want to tell people because I don’t want their sanctimonious, hypocritcal judgement. Or their lack of understanding. Maybe I just don’t want to.
I’ve gone off on a ranty tangent.Sorry.
The point is, you never know how much, how significant, or what. Which leads to assumptions, which leads to all kind of pain and hurt.
Not always for the person you don’t know much about, but also for yourself. Sometimes, these people have a level of knowledge and understanding you can’t possibly imagine, and can give you so much more that you are willing to be open to.
Some people care and genuinely empathise.
It would be nice if we could all be a little more open to accepting this is real.