So, one of the major reasons I shook some dust leaving an until-recently family of choice and never looked back had to do with obsession and bullying (notably, two features shared in common by people prone to stalk and engage in domestic violence, so you know, that’s my cue to RUN not WALK). Since I know most of my readership personally, I don’t feel the need to rehash those details in any specific way. However, it’s pretty clear that the ongoing obsession, desire to control, and urge to dominate is still very present for a particular person in the family I departed. The only reason I’m relatively certain that my former chosen family members don’t read anything I write here is that I (unlike some other parties) have not been the recipient of ongoing micro-aggression in my digital life. I also take a lot of precautions to limit their ability to reach me, after I learned that saying “please don’t” or “that hurts” was about as effective as trying to piss up a rope.
I think one of the most important things to take away from adult breakups, be they friends, romantic partners, work colleagues, employment opportunities, or simple changes in social circles due to geography or lifestyle, is this: you don’t get to run other people’s sh*t, and when you try to run other people’s sh*t, you look like a complete crazy person. Possibly because you are, in fact, a complete crazy person. I use ‘crazy’ here as a colloquial short cut for A person who believes things that are objectively not true, such as: I have a right to control other peoples feelings, actions, or emotional responses; or, it is my job to police the social interactions of other human beings; or, I am entitled to impose my presence on people against their spoken wishes because my needs or desires are more important than their well-being; or, I am the sole objective authority on events XYZ, and have a right and/or responsibility to even the unwilling to promulgate the Truth as I Define It. That sh*t, in the immortal words of Jake the Dog, is ‘whack and has poo brain.’ Thank you, Adventure Time. Come On, Grab Your Friends.
No one ‘owns’ the story of what happened to cause a rift or a departure. That’s not an item of property, or a right, or an entitlement. Even when maybe it feels like it should be. Even when someone’s hurt us or mistreats us. Even when we feel morally smug. Perhaps especially when we feel morally smug. We’re all just wanderers in a vast and unknowable universe, with limited, fallible perspectives. We can tell our stories — and I often encourage people to do so! There is a period of grief and loss when sharing a story with other human beings is potentially really productive, fruitful work! but that period is very brief — however, the fact remains that there will always be things we leave out, cushion, or hedge about because you know, even in really blame-y break-ups, no one was the perfect partner, friend, co-worker, or whatever.
I recently learnt this in a pretty direct and visceral way, and let me tell you: the knowledge that my perceptions were deliberately micromanaged in a pretty dishonest way was all the betrayal-feelings I needed to permanently cut emotional ties with some parties, and mend some fences and make some apologies, and maybe be a little vulnerable with people who had really, really good reason to be pretty cheesed at me. Yeah, I was in a situation where my feelings (protectiveness, exhaustion, indignation) got the best of me; but it turns out that was in no small part because those feelings were being deliberately fueled by other people with a combination of omission of relevant facts and an obsessive focus on the mistakes, activities, and choices of the targeted party. I was being weaponized, and I did not have the wisdom to see that at the time.
So now, I sort of sit and wait, and hope that sharing my triumphs and tribulations in a semi-public setting will not put me in the cross-hairs of people who bully, take, and obsess. People who impose their presence on other people in quiet electronic micro-aggression because of, I’m guessing, impotent rage that they cannot control all the things and all the people and everyone’s perceptions and behaviors forever amen.
It makes me tired, and it makes me sad. It also makes me certain that I made the elegant choice in taking my leave so firmly and permanently. People with that kind of desire to control are dangerous. I made the right choice.