I Won’t Follow You Into The Dark

We’re not supposed to feel anything. I get that impression from my day to day life. Express that you’ve been affected by someone’s words or actions and you get that disapproving click of the tongue and enraging question.

Why do you let it bother you?

Even that statement alone makes me angry. Let it bother me? Like it’s a personal choice? If I could have free access to how I feel something, do you think I would choose to be upset or angry? What kind of stupid question is that?! What kind of dumb question is that to ask a person…?

OK. See? I’m doing it again. Even worse is that you’re not even supposed to respond when something does bother you. Try it. Confront someone who has been passively aggressively awful to you and then tell a friend about it. In many cases, that friend will do that freakin’ tongue click and say:

Don’t show him that it bothers you. That’s what he wants.

So now, you’re doubly wrong for getting offended and then not grinning like a dope? In the immortal words of the great philosopher Stone Cold Steve Austin, “You treat me like a dog and you expect me to smile? You remind me of a jackass.”

Alright then. So being bothered is bad. Expressing that bother is bad. So, I guess you’re supposed to keep your mouth shut and, in some cases, you do just that.  You take the high road. You let it go. Then, just as you’re ready to pat yourself on the emotionless back, someone walks over to you.

Why do you let them treat you like that?

What?! If I yelled, screamed, and threw lemonade, you’d be clicking your tongue at me! I know you would! Now, it’s wrong to be too laid back? It’s wrong to not be mad? Can you ever win with people?

The answer is no. You can’t. Life is a rigged game where the rules change depending on the current population of the room you’re in. There are no set ways to react to anything and, if you try to work around everyone’s expectations, you will always lose. Every time.

Me? I feel things. I feel them pretty deep. I take things personally and don’t appreciate being disrespected. The reason why is simple. It’s because I try to be an accommodating person. I err on the side of benevolence, listen to opposing viewpoints, change my opinion if presented with better information, and apologize when I am wrong. I take care of my kids, respect other people’s beliefs, and try to put good into the world. I do everything that I’m supposed to do. If you’re coming at me, it’s not because of something I did to you. It’s because you’re a jerk.

I’ve dealt with plenty of jerks. I’ve seen loved ones morph into enemies and found myself being vilified for refusing to allow others to run wild through my life with reckless impunity. It’s been a lifelong theme and, even as I approach (hopefully) middle age, I still see it from the world at large.

And it bums me out.

Yeah. Let’s be honest here. When you live your life trying to do what’s right, witnessing those who use it against you can be a terrible feeling. It’s like being punished for doing the right thing. When I was younger, it may have caused me to rage and, in the case of strangers who don’t know me, it usually does. Now, though, after a quintuple bypass and a slowed down lifestyle, it usually just makes me sad.

office door red

It’s easy to allow these miserable people to bring me with them into the miserable world they’ve created in their minds. They can pave the way to the dilapidated doorway and set me up with a cot in their angry little den of victimhood so they can watch me wallow away in their misery. It would be easy. People who are like that, as the old saying goes, love company.

I don’t want to be their company. No one does. My goal is to live a life surrounded by sunshine rather than rain. Teenage angst is best left to teenagers. Even then, they realize quickly that it’s just depressing. That’s kind of the whole point of angst and why you’re supposed to grow out of it.

I know myself, though. I know that if I let it, I can be just as depressed as those trying to pull me to their levels. I can spend my days in bed and stare at the ceiling all night. I’ll eat myself alive if I let me. I’m not sure why exactly – nature or nurture – but I know I will. But I also know I shouldn’t. So, I don’t.

To answer that question from the start about why I let things bother me, it’s simple. I let them bother me because I need to remember who I am and what I stand for. The day that I let those things make me numb is the day that I stop remembering how wrong they are to do to others. It’s the day I become just like the people who are yanking on my socks and trying to get me to join them in their down-trodden world. I’m fine up here. I think I’ll stay.

In fact, I might even lean down and offer my hand one time too many to help pull them up. Sure, they might grip it and try to get me to join them down below. It’s happened more times than I care to count. I might even fall down there once in a while, but I take solace in knowing I will always climb back up. That’s who I am and this is where I belong.

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