Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Warning: Major Rant Alert!

Last night Bear's best friend came over to hang out. Since it was a week night, Snake was by himself - Blondie, his girlfriend, only comes over on the weekend. This is because Blondie is still in high school. She's nineteen, so the age difference between us isn't great, but there is a wide chasm that separates us, anyway. We have very few common interests, our personalities and physical appearances are polar opposites. Blondie and Snake have been together (more or less) for five years, which is as long as Bear has known them. There is a LOT of shared history going on there that I can't even touch.

But that's not my issue.

Blondie is quite possibly the least mature nineteen year-old I've ever met. Snake and her mother dote on her, and do whatever they can to make her life easier. Blondie allows and even expects this treatment. "It's just who she is," Bear tells me. "She can't help it." Up to a point, I agree. Her childhood hasn't been the best and she has had to deal with some pretty bad things.

That's not my issue, either.

Okay, here's the part where I tell you what my issue is, with the help of a story or two to illustrate my point.

Snake, Bear and I were hanging out last night, and without Blondie there I felt free to voice some of my frustrations with her: that she can be really whiney, that she has to be the center of attention, that she can, at times, drive me crazy. Usually I don't mention things like this because either she's around or I get a lecture about how I'm "not trying" with her. The last time I got a lecture, I listened to what Bear and Snake said, thought about it, and changed my behavior. They were right: I hadn't been giving her a fair chance (in my defense, she is the same age as my students and that has been a huge hurdle to get past). Since that first lecture, I have made a consious effort to include her more, to direct more comments in her direction, to say nice things to her whenever I can. She absorbs compliments like a sponge. Even to the point of being disingenuous, I've been nice. I don't make any comments about her age, her high school status (other than to congratulate her on getting into college, etc.). I could go on, but I think you get my point.

Anyway, so I made a few comments about Blondie last night. After Snake left, Bear told me that I'd "gone too far," and was "bad mouthing Blondie." I was shocked! I'd said NOTHING that was untrue or exaggerated. Bear didn't see it that way, of course, and we had a bit of a tiff about it. "That's just how Blondie is," he said again. "You have to cut her some slack."

I have to say here that I have HAD IT with this line of argument! When I speak to Blondie, she does one of three things: She contradicts me, she one-ups me, or she ignores me. No one says anything to her. She's allowed to do it, because "it's just her way." Every olive branch I extend gets snapped up, chewed, and spit back out, rejected. I'm so sick of it. Bear and Snake rush to Blondie's defense, protecting her from anything negative.
"Poor Blondie," they say.
"It's not her fault."
"I hold you to a higher standard, Amalia."
"You're the grown up."
"Don't take it personally."

I do the best I can, truly I do. I give allowances for who she is, where she is in life, what she's been through. Every time she says something that upsets, hurts, or angers me, I forgive her, push my upset away, tell myself that I need to let it go.

I reached my limit last night. I turned to Bear and said, "You and Snake have Blondie wrapped in this little cocoon of safety. You always back her up, protect her, defend her. Who's defending me?" Some other points I made:
  • Blondie can say whatever she wants to me (including references to my weight), but I can't reciprocate.
  • I'm being held to a higher standard and am being assessed on how well I stick to it, while she has no standard at all.
  • Nothing she says or does is ever her fault, but I'm to blame for any tensions in the group.
  • I'm the one that has the problem, not her.
  • Just because I'm a grown up, doesn't mean I don't have thin skin.
  • If I hurt her, I need to change. If she hurts me, I'm over reacting and need to get over it.
  • I'm not allowed to use the "it's just the way I am" excuse, but she can.
  • She has NEVER given me a compliment. Ever.
  • Bear and Snake don't defend me if she has something negative to say about me.
  • I'm expected to turn myself inside out, shift my moral and ethical compass, but she can continue to be the way she has always been.
  • This treatment, while on a cognitive level I understand it, is unfair and it hurts me.
I said what I had to say, and Bear (God love him) listened. I hope that I was able to show him what life is like from my perspective. Just because I am strong, intelligent and independent doesn't mean that I don't get my feelings hurt. There's no age limit on that. I don't know if Snake has ever spoken to Blondie about how she speaks to me, but knowing what I know, he probably hasn't. It's not really his job... but I sure would appreciate it. I just wish that for once, someone would acknowledge that she DOES do hurtful things, and that SOME of her behavior can be modified. I wish someone would say, "Hey Blondie, you are out of line and it's not okay." She's not made out of stone - she can change. I don't know why I always have to be the one giving ground to keep peace in the group dynamic.

This is a really long post, and I don't know if I've made any kind of coherent sense. I was in tears last night and I'm in tears again now just thinking about this topic. I've always hated injustice, and I especially hate it when I feel like I'm a victim of it. I do, too. I know it's selfish and "not grown up," but I still feel that way. I still want to be backed up, supported, defended once in a while, too.

Maybe that's just the way I am.

1 comment:

Shari said...

I feel for you. Look at the bright side, maybe this time your points got across.

One more thing, sooner or later, she's going to have to be accountable for some things she does that's wrong or tactless. She is not going to have her age (she's going to be older and hopefully wiser) and with more "living experience" and responsibility (college, job), she may grow up faster because people who work with her or take classes with her aren't always going to have someone defend her. She's not going to have Snake or Bear defend her when they aren't there. I don't even know if I am saying this right.

I know how you feel. I am a people-pleaser. I see both sides of the story and I try to be nice no matter what. That's hard.

You've made your arguments with me, anyway. I see where you are coming from.