“He who has so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition will waste his life in fruitless efforts.” – Samuel Johnson
So here we were, holding hands, walking along the middle of the proverbial train tracks, when the drama train was gunning for us full speed ahead, remember?
There were three crucial questions I asked before heading for certain doom:
1) How do we avoid a disastrous collision?
2) If the imminent disaster occurs, how do we manage damage control?
3) How do we minimize collateral damage?
To answer those questions, we have to view the situation from two distinct vantage points; one, the always-right-kung-fu-master, and two, the punching bag.*
*Otherwise known as the communicator and the receiver, according to Berlo’s conceptual model of human communication, but let’s stick to the more whimsical, appropriate imagery, shall we?
Yeah, they’re communicating. Really.
Here’s where things get a tad complicated.
You see, I was going to waltz into a diatribe on human behavior as it stems from nature vs nurture, the current standard of living as it pertains to social interaction in this current stage of human evolution, facts, charts, diagrams, puppet shows, YouTube clips, social media memes, etc.
And then I realized how simple it truly is to explain, instead of sounding like a pedantic wannabe.
The truth is, speaking from personal experience, toxicity stems from irrational thoughts and fears when it comes to the mentally ill. A mentally ill individual normally does not want to be toxic; quite the contrary – we wish to be at peace, to co-exist in a harmonious existence of perpetual bliss. That, of course, is a fantasy that we project* unto those around us.
*According to most textbook definitions I have found while doing research, psychological projection is defined as a defense mechanism in which the human ego defends itself against unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others.
Not to be confused with astral projection; that’s a whole other can of worms.
So you see, when our expectations do not conform to the vision we have of what something should be, we immediately see it as a threat and act accordingly. We expect other parties to fully understand that THEY are at fault of situations that arise, not us; WE did nothing wrong, WE acted according to our perfect little vision of how things should be, so WE prepare for battle – battle flags are hoisted, fortifications are secured, and onward to battle we go.
The aforementioned party then gets blindsided in a stupendous WHAT-THE-FUCK moment that becomes a struggle to survive an unnecessary onslaught of emotions. Many of these moments cannot be avoided; they are just immediate triggers, and it is up to the individual who suffers from a mental disorder to apply techniques learned through experience, treatment, and introspection. After all is said and done, if steps were taken and a crisis still occurs, then all parties involved must be understanding, patient, and most of all EMPATHIC towards each others’ plight.
Simply said, it takes two to tango.
So that brings me to the extremist meme that I posted last time as an example:
Nobody, I mean NOBODY is indebted to ANYONE; let me make that abundantly clear.
If a friend, loved one, or family member decides to stand by your side out of love and commitment through your disease, then that is a blessing that should be cherished and nurtured.
On the flip side, if a friend, loved one, or family member decides they have had enough….
IT IS FUCKING OK.
They are human beings, with limits just like any other person; they are allowed to feel frustration, anger, all the emotions that are associated with someone struggling with a painful situation that, in their own heart and mind, they cannot handle or are not prepared for.
IT IS OK FOR SOMEONE TO WALK AWAY; THAT IS NOT ABANDONMENT – IT IS SELF-LOVE, DIGNITY, AND SELF-RESPECT.
Just because you work in a hospital does not mean that you won’t get sick and need a few days off; does that make you a shitty caretaker?
Of course not.
In order to take care of others, you need to first take care of yourself, to be healthy and to be prepared.
So that brings me to the previous three questions that were asked. The solution is quite simple – really – when you think about:
Don’t be a prick.
Seems kinda anti-climactic, minimizing, simple and childish, right?
Just look at the facts:
- If you are a prick, prepare to be treated like one. Deal with it. It sounds harsh, and there is more to it than that because like I’ve said before, life is never simple. That being said, you get what you give; it’s simply the law of reciprocity.
- If you deal with being a prick and show you don’t want to be a prick, then allow others to help you not be a prick.
- If you decide to continue being a prick regardless, don’t be surprised when people tell you to go fuck off.
What it all boils down to is the fact that you cannot treat people like shit and expect them to just stand there and take it on the chin just because they love you; that, ladies and gentlemen, is called ABUSE.*
*I will be addressing the issue of abuse another day, because it is an extremely important component that affects all aspects of mental illness, both from a victim’s standpoint and the abuser’s standpoint. It is an important, fascinating subject that needs to be discussed with the utmost attention to detail and delicateness.
Nobody likes to be abused.
Toxic behavior can be modified, and in many wonderful cases, can be eradicated, but it takes a lot of hard work, discipline, mindfulness, and empathy.
In 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan melted down, creating a nuclear disaster of unforeseeable magnitude. After 7 years of effort and cleanup, Fukushima has slowly been rebuilt, opened back to the public, repopulated, and is being proverbially healed. The Japanese government estimates the cleanup effort will take around three to four more decades and billions of dollars to complete. They could’ve gone the Chernobyl route and just dump cement over the problem and call it a day; but they want their nation to thrive and grow beyond the wreckage of misfortune.
It will take time.
It will take insurmountable effort.
But they have the commitment and the drive to make it happen.
Be a Fukushima, not a Chernobyl.