Holiday Strife

Note: I really need to talk about this but it’s one of those things where other people, nay, family, are implicated, so… intentional vaguebooking.

I’m very upset because some people I’ve known for a very long time, that I do love, are brought into my life again due to the holidays. But we haven’t seen each other much lately due to distance etc., and they are pretty ignorant of where I’m at in life now.

The clenching feeling in my stomach, the strain in my head from the impending headache, and the heat in my eyes. Just thinking about all this hurts. My health, sanity, and safety must come first.

We’ve had arguments recently where they’ve said things that have really hurt. The original reason it started has little to do with why it’s still going now. It’s become about principle for me at this point, because my principle has been ignored repeatedly over the years, and it was violated again during this argument. Simply put: if you claim to care about me, you should care about my feelings.

I’ve grown a backbone in recent years, enough to stand my ground when they’re about to trample on me. It’s like a bull in a china shop, and I’m the china. Before they can wreck everything, I’ve had to ask them to leave until they can learn to play nice. I’ve repeated my request that they acknowledge and respect my needs, and I’ve set an extremely simple gate to pass: Acknowledge you hurt me and apologize for it. And they simply can’t do it.

You should believe me when I say my feelings are hurt. You don’t have to understand how you hurt them. I’m not even sure I can explain it, because I just get so frustrated trying to get through to them. With this whole argument, you’ve demanded repeatedly that I explain how you hurt my feelings. How you hurt me perhaps can be explained after, but the simple fact is that cannot happen until we’ve established the first fact: I’m hurt and you caused it. And you refuse to accept responsibility for hurting me because you claim it isn’t intentional. But whether or not it was intentional, if you stabbed someone, you’re still responsible for the pain you caused. You don’t need an explanation to acknowledge your responsibility in this.

I think they grew up with this very masculine thought process of “you have to be able to take some punishment otherwise you’re not an adult”. It’s a type of toxic masculinity that reinforces the expectations of strength. Compare with “sticks and stones…”. This is simply wrong. Why should we hurt one another at all? This is the sort of schoolyard bully thinking that ruins people’s lives.

I honestly think they have no clue they’re doing it. Well, I think one of them does know he’s doing it, but I think it’s explicitly an attempt to push buttons and say “You want me to recognize your gender, well, here you go, and I’m doing it in the worst way now, you happy?”

My feelings have been repeatedly dismissed. I’ve been called names, accused of being immature and irrational. It has the effect of making me question my perception, which I refuse to do. And worse, gendered slurs too. It’s very classic misogyny, frankly. It follows exactly those patterns.

I trust myself now. But I don’t know how to make them see that what they’re doing is dismissing my needs and disrespecting me other than to stand my ground and demand respect for my perspective and feelings. I do my best to respect theirs. One of the defenses I keep hearing is “you hurt me too”. Probably. You haven’t brought up specifically what you’d like me to do about that, which I’d be more than happy to discuss. But I’ve explicitly asked multiple times for this one thing. So I can’t talk to you until that happens.

Which means I’m not seeing some people for the holidays now that I’d really like to, due to proximity to problematic people. Which hurts a lot. And I cannot fathom having to be in the same room as these problematic people for several days. And now I’m hurting the other people I really care about too because they’re all going to be at the same place.

I love you, I’m sorry.