Before we get off on the musical tangent ♫ I know that respect is earned, not haphazardly given. But, once you’ve proven yourself as someone who is trustworthy and at the very least, willing to have someone’s back – then I think it should be something that exists without the need to demand it.
Let’s go hypothetical – a friend – someone who has a messed up past. This past makes them moody, touchy, often a bit too impetuous. But, you, being the semi-mature sort of person that you are, you understand all of this.
Then, one day, in a group chat, the people get playful and start some mild teasing. Nothing mean, just general bantering. The person with the messed up past snaps at you. Because it’s chat, you’re not sure it’s part of the game or for real…so you pause, you try to check. But then you realize that this person has just disrespected you in a public forum.
Now what? Well, for me it’s rarely an easy thing. First, I’ve got my own stuff. I know I can be sensitive – hell, let’s just say it’s my middle name and be done with that. 🙂 Then, there’s the abuse and recovering from said abuse.
I have walked a very long and extremely steep road to get to where I am. So, this was an interesting test to see just how well I’ve fared with my new attempts at self respect and healing.
Now, I don’t do things like other people do things. And I learned (fortunately) that I don’t have to…I get to deal with things in my own way in my own time as I see fit. So what’s the plan? My best way of dealing is to get very quiet. And in other cultures, this is a very acceptable form of shunning and dealing with someone who violates certain social mores. It feels very natural for me. It’s not a passive-aggressive act. It is simply me taking myself out of the situation and into my own power.
Now, will that person know they did something wrong? did they have a right to protect themselves? Certainly. It is the HOW that is in question, not the what. We all have a right to say “no” and to establish boundaries. And, in a triggering moment, we don’t always handle that well. This I understand most well. I still get triggered often and deeply, so I can be very accepting of another’s triggering moments. It’s what comes next that makes the person.
Should this person apologize, all is well. We then set up some kind of signal that lets the other know that we need to change the subject. Should this person not apologize, then I have to make up my mind about whether to let it go (for now) or say something.
In my own journey, it’s a strike. I need to establish my own boundaries. So, this is one mistake that, left unattended, will remain as a part of my early-warning system. A mistake made that is acknowledged and apologized for is one thing. But if the person cannot take such responsibility, then there’s something awry. I’m a very forgiving person. It may take me time, depending on the infraction, but I can and do when the other person is truly and sincerely sorry for their actions.
The fact that I have seen and acknowledged what happened to myself is a massive step in my healing. Not too long ago I would have taken it, hidden away and felt diminished. My own triggers kicked in, don’t think for a minute that I didn’t react in my own ways. But in the end, I saw, I worked through my own issues rather well, and I set in place my own, personal boundary – that I will NOT be disrespected and especially in a public manner. Grown ups don’t behave like that. I am a grown up and I will not give my time and energy to someone who cannot meet me half way.
So, what might seem like a harmless slip is not so harmless to some of us who are just getting our footing after some severe abuse. I am very proud of myself. I still have to deal with things, but I think I’ve got this one. I don’t need to be a part of anything that is bad for me. So, I get to move on if I so please. That in itself is power. and I’m not talking the power that corrupts…I’m talking power over self and one’s environment and company which one keeps.
If I have someone’s back, I expect nothing less than a modicum of respect in return.