… or 2. I’ve lost count.
By ‘in’ I mean 2011. The new year, another decade (though in fairness last year was the new decade. It’s so hard to work these things out isn’t it? does the new decade start on a ‘0’ or a ‘1’?)
I’m here in my bedroom in Melbourne (not the entire city, just a general location for my dwelling that won’t have me stalked by people I don’t want to know. And besides, I already have a rather good stalker who I’m quite attached to) and typing on the laptop with a cup of Rooibos next to me.
What’s Rooibos you ask?
Herbal-ish tea. Not black tea. It’s red. That’s about all I know. Look it up on Google if you want to know — I just like the taste in the morning. My stalker introduced me to the morning cuppa, and I haven’t looked back.
What was I saying?
Random thoughts in the morning are even more random without the first sip of tea. Hang 3 and we’ll see if these processes coalesce into anything meaningful.
…and sip… ahhhh…
So this morning I received an email from the woman who shall henceforth be referred to as ‘The Nutter’. I thought our email conversations had been curtailed last month when she said ‘Never contact me again’, a statement which was both relieving and a no-brainer. Here was a woman who had screamed down a phone at me, not once, but four times in 48 hours, pleading, wheedling, passive-aggressing and out-and-out blackmailing. Halfway up this matterhorn of abuse she even had the audacity to threaten suicide if I didn’t do what she wanted me to do.
It was only a friendship that I thought we had that extended these verbal blitzkriegs — anyone else who has done this to me has been left with that chirpy little ‘beep-beep-beep’ sound of a disconnected phone call.
The phone calls got so bad that I was left shaking, mouth dry and in fear — I had to email her to say that I wouldn’t be talking to her over the phone after the way she’d treated me.
The penultimate conversation, in this case an email, involved a death threat.
In my final response to her I explained that her treatment of me was reprehensible and was the single cause (well, quadruple) of the breakdown of the friendship. I had been there for her, I’d been there for mutual friends in need. And all of them had turned on me in varying shades of verbal violence.
Oh, and the icing on the cake was that she regarded the incidents over the phone as ‘cultural differences’ — she being of middle-eastern (ish) descent and highly strung. I called it bad behaviour and left it at that.
So it was quite surprising to receive an email today from her. I began reading it and dragged my way out two paragraphs in when she started going on about the ‘transient’ nature of Australian relationships. I felt my ire rising, hackles on the back of my metaphorical neck, then turned away. Yes, there’s wisdom in addressing concerns and facing your fears, and then there’s wisdom in just walking away. I pick the battles I have a chance of winning (not that I’m at all combative), and to engage again with her would at best be unwise.
You see, you can’t reason with people with an axe to grind. You can’t reason with someone who is so utterly disconnected from their own actions that they cannot see the damage that they are causing. You can’t reason with someone who has Right On Their Side.
And you can’t reason with someone who attacks you at every turn, someone who criticises and belittles you without giving you even the respect of taking responsibility for their part in the train-wreck.
I’ve had so many people like this in my life. They come in, they treat me nice for a while, and then they start subtly undermining.
And it’s as much my fault as it is theirs. I participated in this by believing they were right and I was wrong. An over-extended responsibility gland means that I took responsibility for things that weren’t my fault, and was ready to be criticised and told I had fucked up. Low self-esteem and a feeling that I wasn’t ever seen (or had a right to existence) led me down this garden path of pain.
Slowly though, the worm turned. It became apparent (over some years) that there were friends who were friendly, who were there for me and I for them. And then there were friends who I was there for, and they for me with strings attached, and when they felt unhappy they would dump the blame onto me in the Nicest Possible Way. Then they would tell me how I was a failure for a few hours and move on.
This transfer of energy was like dead weights being loaded onto the back of a camel; oppressive, negative energy that made me more susceptible to manipulation. But once I realised that, and refused to participate, the transfer of energy became much more direct.
Simply put, I had offended them and now they were going to let me have it.
Here the exchange of energy was more active but no less negative.
A leading statement twists an event which becomes an attack which has to be answered, turns into an exchange of unpleasantness…
Soon I was dragged into the mire and spat out at the other end, exhausted, drained and damaged.
One simple thing stops this in its tracks, it’s simple and empowering.
Just say ‘No’.
That’s where the nutter came unstuck. I said ‘no’. I stood my ground and she threw everything she could at me. She cried. She blackmailed. She brought up her religion and how she could not withdraw from the situation we were arguing about (another person in this case). She brought up how it was affecting her. She brought up her health issues. She brought up the possibility she would suicide if she didn’t get her own way. She yelled and screamed. She talked over the top of me at high speed. She hammered at me for hours.
And I said ‘No.’
I was left after these calls shaking and with a dry mouth, my stomach churning. But I knew it was the right thing to do.
I won’t negotiate with people who abuse me. It is — as stated earlier — a no-brainer.
So with this in mind, my first step was to spam the message so it went away.
But then I remembered the oft-forgotten Bounce function in Mac mail. It’s in the Message menu. What it does is Return-To-Sender with a ‘mailbox not available’ message. Just for luck I also blacklisted her email so anything coming in would be deleted.
So it was with a great sense of relief that I selected the message, then clicked Message and Bounce. The message was gone in a puff of smoke.