When I wrote Should You Ditch Your Loser Friends? I expected I’d get a few offended emails- and, oh, I did. Because people don’t seem to understand that there is a very clear distinction between people who have mental illnesses and what I was talking about. I made that distinction and I stand by it: with the caveat being, well, even when we have mental illness, it’s no excuse for abusing others.
I was trying to find a clip of Nathan Fillion in Santa Clarita Diet sarcastically saying, Ask me how I know! because it’s perfect- but, no one’s done it.
Anyway, in addition to people who truly felt that they’d found a way to validate their abusive behaviors towards others (Spoiler: No, you have not.) who were, also, ironically pretty abusive in their emails- I got something else.
I got a handful of people who recognized they were “losers”. Please note the quotes- and in person, I wouldn’t do air quotes because that’s obnoxious. I do it here, however, because I have a hard time calling anyone who recognizes that they’re engaging in unhealthy behaviors like this losers. First step and all that. (And as I mentioned in that post, man, I have a really hard time calling anyone a “loser” anyway.)
Full disclosure- I have never actually been a “loser” of that variety. No, I was more self destructive and kept it to myself, though there was in fact, a time when I but I have a mental illness!ed a lot of very shitty behaviors.
First off, that’s not an apology, it’s a rationalization. In most cases, a pretty valid one- except, when it is not. I am a HUGE proponent of a wide array of non-shame movements but I have noticed a trend. Shitty people use just about any tool they can. Thing is, though, often, people who are using this to rationalize shitty behavior aren’t shitty people. Often, they’ve been dealing with some hellish shit and haven’t figured out how to manage it- so, yes, a rationalization looks like a good idea.
Like I said- it’s valid, but it’s just not a good idea. I have a strict rule about apologies. They go like this:
I’m sorry I did That Thing.
And then, I do all I can to not do That Thing again.
Or I do not apologize because I am not sorry.
Here’s a Pee Wee Herman throwback to Cheech and Chong’s Nice Dreams:
This is just me.
So, don’t send me emails trying to rage about how when you rationalize or make excuses it doesn’t mean you’re not sorry- because like I said: this is just me. It might be you, too, it might not be.
But I don’t apologize if I am not sorry and if my instinct is to insert “but…” at the end of “I’m sorry I did That Thing” I won’t apologize. Same holds true for “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings”- which..though is usually true, I usually am sorry I did, isn’t a real apology, either. God no on “I’m sorry your feelings were hurt”. Holy shit, fuck that one right in the ear- that is not an apology at all, that’s not even accepting any responsibility at all.
Both kinda say, “I’m not really admitting I fucked up, but it makes me feel bad that you feel bad.” So, I tend to avoid them.
That said, if I fuck up, it tends to be inadvertent. It’s rare I go out of my way to piss in someone’s Cheerios, I don’t like hurting people and I don’t like upsetting them. The way I express myself often does this- but, I think I have about a 50/50 on whether I’m sorry about that or not. It has happened, more than once, that when I have either read something that made me think, had someone call me out and thought about it- that I realized: You’re not being outspoken, you’re just being a total dick.
The thing I accepted a long time ago is that, well, frankly, I can’t just brush off any accountability for my actions with a “It is what it is, I’m just speakin’ my mind!” because if I did speak my mind I probably would never stop talking and would also sound like a thousand Norwegian lemmings dumped in a vat of meth- but, also, it’s really not like I’ve never been wrong in my life. Oh, my god, have I ever. My preference is to correct that and do better, so- yes. Introspection. You don’t have to ask your doctor about that one. Side effects may include recognizing your shitty attempts at evading personal accountability are, well, shitty attempts.
And that’s the second step, honestly- after recognizing you’re a “loser” however that manifests itself. Understanding that apologies are also a responsibility of sorts- but not a band-aid. If you’re saying you are sorry just to get someone to stop being upset with you- you’re doing it wrong. It’s a promise and you should keep that promise, otherwise: don’t bother making it.
Yeah, trust me, there are people who will think you are a grade A asshole for this. I can’t tell you how many people either look at me expectantly for an apology they never get- or worse: feel the need to drag theirs out.
The only time I will drag out an apology is, if the behavior is something I either cannot help or have a hard time with. Most people don’t know this but my partner has a fucking hell of a time with executive functioning– I do, too, but I have come up with coping strategies there. I also happen to actually have issues with ritualized behavior. I also do things in sequences of fours. My partner used to refer to himself as “sorta OCD” but what he meant was, he’s a neat freak. I hate to break it to you, but OCD isn’t being a neat freak which was something he would learn, trial by fire in living with someone who actually dealt with it.
Thing is, there are symptoms of my OCD which channel very well into getting shit done. I have never been able to find a constructive use for intrusive thoughts. That’d be the shit, if I could, but- no, those suck. However, ritualized behavior is a massive boon when you also find your head is a pack of meth soaked Norwegian lemmings.
The thing is, people often think my partner is a flake or that he just has problems being on time- and oh holy shit, I used to get so pissed about this as being slightly early is my thing- and they think he’s an asshole for it. He is not, it’s just that often, his head just shits itself on the steps necessary to do basic things. It was, for a long time and to some extent still is- easier on his pride to let people believe he was an asshole.
Until one day, I, being a bit more on the impulsive end of things, spewed word vomit at him: Uh, babe, can’t help noticing that the more stressed out you get- the more of a so called asshole you become. You also…don’t shower, shave, or even change your clothing, then. You know that, right? You realize- that’s…a thing, don’t you?
He is also fairly avoidant, which is not really my cup of tea, either. Some would say that he doesn’t have “the spoons” to answer his messages, return calls, and otherwise. What I said was, “Kurt, god dammit, you’re allowed to say no. You look like an even bigger shithead when you just ignore the person than if you just said “I don’t feel like it” or “I can’t do that” or “It’s not a priority” and worse, you push people away.”
Yeah, I’m gonna make a hell of a therapist, right?
I am not his therapist, obviously- not a therapist yet and also, couldn’t be. Thing is, though- the veneers we put up to hide things have a way of falling by the way side when we live with other people. He and I both dealt with that, with others.
Ever think someone’s just a harmless sort who is drifting and needs a little help only to have them turn out a raging narcissist?
Pro-tip: If you happen to notice that someone’s life is a total shit hole and somehow, some way, it’s always someone else’s fault? RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN. Especially if you are a fella that already has a hard time saying “No”.
His eye opener event lasted like three months. It started with a request that wasn’t a request to use his truck. I had been pointing out that there were lots of requests that weren’t requests- demands or I’m gonna style things. Before the truck, it was I’m gonna take the car to… combined with nice things he never realized were total transactions until he did dare hesitate or say no. So, finally, this demand to take a truck my partner had promised his father- who was insuring it, he wouldn’t allow. It was like a sad episode of COPS. I watched them go from room to room, out in the yard and my partner, who is usually not even CLOSE to someone who raises his voice- was very much doing so.
Because he was being repeatedly screamed at by someone who was acting like a cranky toddler denied a damn candy. Except a toddler grows out of this, usually. This dude was nearly 30. That would happen a few times, over a few things. Like, paying his share of the deposit when we moved. Like, paying his share of..anything. One day, dude popped a bumper sticker for a station my partner cannot even stand on his truck- and I saw the cheese slide right off of Kurt’s cracker.
But did the guy ever see his own hand in his repeatedly shitty life?
Did he ever once think his shitbag behavior might possibly be the reason someone he’d once felt was his best friend- was suddenly not wanting to be around him?
Oh hell no, it was me, the evil girlfriend who masterminded the whole thing.
And actually, I kinda did. And you know what? Refer to the Pee Wee Herman clip- but I wasn’t doing it the way he thought. I was supporting my partner in not engaging in codependent behaviors that were hurting him. I was telling him that he did not have to put up with that shit.
Plus, I totally smiled and went, “It’s okay, I know how to get bumper stickers off, babe. I gotcha.”
I am just going to say this right here and now: if you are that kind of loser, there are no quotation marks. Try taking some responsibility for your own life and your own fuck ups. I mean, shit, if you’re moaning about why is it that every single situation you find yourself in goes to crap- there is in fact, a common denominator.
That said, my partner and I were losers, too.
At one point, okay, at various points in the above situation- I lost my temper. I don’t have any problem cutting toxic people out of my life. I used to, but not because I have trouble saying “No” but rather, I have a hero problem. I’m a “fixer”. I was also doing it for the wrong reasons, for a long time.
I also have a temper and a mouth that won’t quit- which is a bad recipe when you allow other people’s choices to become the cornerstone of your ego.
It all starts with two steps, though.
First- You own your shit and only your shit.
Second- you learn to make it right, however that manifests and recognize that is your responsibility and not anybody else’s.
You want me to throw some astrology into this: people always see my Pluto but oh, oh, do you not notice that Saturn and Mars? Even without the woo, ya’ll, psychologically speaking there is something utterly transformational about recognizing your own power and no longer giving it all away.
Where it went from there? Holy shit. Let me say it would take a little while for both of us to recognize the authorship of our own realities while living with one another. I’ll write more on that later.
I really, really wish the album version of this was still on youtube- this is the best cover, hands down, of this song I have ever heard. Incidentally- Night Shift’s Undercovers is AWESOME.