30 June 2009

"We make it harder than it has to be" --The Eagles

This has been swirling around my head for a while. In the not at all funny but true category...

Years ago, I can remember hanging out with a couple friends. For blog purposes, let's call them Malbec and Sangiovese. I was friends with each of them and they were friends with each other. I can distinctly remember having this sort of conversation:

Malbec: So, you're friends with Sangiovese.

Me: Yeah.

Malbec: Yeah, me, too. But I don't want to get too close to her. I make it a policy not to allow people who have been abused to get too close to me. They can't really be trusted.

Me: Oh? Huh.

At the time, it gave me pause. Not enough to stop me from having a good, solid friendship with Sangiovese, but it did make me wonder if abused people were "different" in their capacity to form good relationships.

The truth is that Malbec and I had a falling out long before Sangiovese and I had a falling out.

Discussing this recently, Hubby, who knows both of them, hit the nail on the head when he said that what Malbec said was much more about Malbec and her issues, than it was about Sangiovese.

I wish abuse didn't happen. I realize it has lifelong impacts and I don't think anyone who hasn't been through it can fully understand the experience. That said, to rule out a whole group of people as close friends based on an experience they had (in which they were the victims!) seems crazy to me.

I'm not saying there aren't people to be avoided. There's lots of people in the world who demonstrate that they're messed up on a regular basis. Plenty of red flags out there that are waving so dramatically, you'd have to bury your head in the sand to miss them. These flags have nothing to do with my knowledge of any abuse they experienced. It's about what a person says... what a person does. And when I see those flags, I step away. Far away.

It takes me a while to get close to people. I try to get to know them and see if they can be trusted based on what I witness of their behavior. Do they do what they say? Are their stories consistent? Are they there when I need them? Do they seem compassionate?

Some of the nicest people I know have been through truly horrific things.

Looking back, I wish I had called Malbec on her comment. I wish I hadn't even registered a doubt in my head about Sangiovese, based on that comment.

Life is hard enough. Let's not make it harder.


f.B said...

It just isn't fair to tell people who've been abused how they should respond to it. Life is way too hard.

Titania said...

L.A., I really want to hug you. Now.

Liebchen said...

Isn't judging them on past victim status just making them a victim again? Of something they can't change? Good insight by Hubby.

Mike said...

Read my intro on my blog. Top left corner.

Dmbosstone said...

It's an interesting take on baggage but I think we all have been through different things. as f.B says, life is hard. I think Maxie says that a lot too.

Cyndy said...

I have never understood why some people become so judgemental and distrusting of those who have suffered any kind of major misfortune. Maybe they think it's contagious?

restaurant refugee said...

People are, of course, free to make their own choices and to determine with whom to be friends. People are also entitled to call-out certain choices as capriciously shallow and misdirected.

Barbara said...

Some of my favorite people are victims of abuse. It's mostly just something that happened in the past. Their occasional stories make me sad and make me glad my life was so abuse-free. The closest I came to understanding abuse was the violent break-up of a rather long-term friendship in which I was subjected to what must have been abuse. It was a horrible experience.

Anonymous said...

This brought me to tears.

rothko said...

Good post. I know they are just names you used for blog purposes, but I have been friends with both Malbec and Sangiovese and neither have been very nice to me. Still, for some reason I keep them in my speed dial.

lacochran said...

f.B: You're right.

Titania: Aw, Sweetie, right back atcha!

Liebchen: Good point.

Mike: Well put.

Dmbosstone: You're right, we all have stuff. It may be different. It may not be obvious to the casual observer. But we all have stuff we work through.

Cyndy: Interesting theory.

restaurant refugee: Wish I had.

Barbara: Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous: Thanks for reading. I hope it didn't cause (more) pain.

rothko: You should hear what they say about you. :)

Little Ms Blogger said...

Most everyone has some sort of baggage. Whether it is abuse, alcohol, bad marriage etc., it is how they handle it.

It's my experience that people who have had the best life experiences are high drama people. It's as though they are looking to incorporate unnecessary drama into their lives.

Personally, I look at the person. How they treat others and definitely avoid the drama kings and queens.

I think Malbec was/is incredibly shallow in her judgement of people. Too bad for her. She'll miss out on meeting some great people.

lacochran said...

Little Ms Blogger: It's true. She's the one who loses out.