We are the centre of our own Universe and, when we’re children and young adults, we think the world should revolve around us. As we age, however, we recognize that everyone has struggles, stresses, worries, wants and needs and that actually we have to curb our sense of entitlement in order to make the world function. At least, we should. But I’m amazed at how many people get to middle age still with an immature sense that the Universe revolves around them and think they can act however they like regardless of how it affects other people.
There’s a lady at my Camera Club who currently has some family issues (of her own making it has to be said) and also has quite severe health problems. She arrived at Club last night clearly stressed and exhausted (I know this because she stood up and told the entire club) and having had virtually no sleep. At the end of the evening she came across to the group of people I was with and started talking about what an awful week she’d had. So I said “awww, bless you” and rubbed her arm sympathetically and she turned to me and shouted angrily “Don’t you say that IT’S PATRONIZING!”. Alrighty then. The rest of the group stood there with their mouths open at the attack – all apart from the man I’d been speaking to who slunk off (coward 😉 ) My response was to say “you’re obviously stressed and in a difficult position” but what I actually wanted to say was “well pardon me for fucking caring – I won’t bother in future”. And I won’t. In fact, I’ll avoid her like the plague from now til the day either she or I leaves.
We all have the odd bad day, but this woman makes it known week in and week out how difficult her life is, so it’s hard to stay sympathetic especially when her current situation is of her own making. And the thing is, there are several people at my Club who have tough lives and health problems, but we don’t all go around taking our stress out on other people, especially when those other people have hard lives of their own.
You come across this a lot in the ‘sick world’. People who, every time you speak to them online or meet them in town, moan on about how tough their life is and, honestly, I don’t want to know. I have enough goddamn problems and stresses of my own. It’s absolutely exhausting having to walk on eggshells around someone or to constantly have to take their shit on board, especially when you’re knee deep in your own excrement.
I think this is partly the reason I struggle to be sympathetic with my Mum’s drinking, which is clearly down to mental health issues. I hate to have to say this but people with long standing mental health problems can be absolutely and utterly exhausting to be around. They can be incredibly selfish and entitled and the universe absolutely has to revolve around them or everyone suffers. And the thing which makes it so hard for me is that, compared to me, my Mum’s life has been pretty much OK. And yet she is self-indulgently demanding and difficult and makes everyone around her stressed and exhausted when she should be thankful for her lovely home, money and hugely supportive family. OK so her life didn’t turn out exactly how she’d hoped – get the fuck over it and be happy, because you’re a very long time dead.
It’s not generally in my nature to be nasty back when someone is nasty to me (although over the years there have been a few noteable exceptions!). Instead I simply have nothing to do with the person ever again. It’s when times are tough that you get to see someone’s true character and I don’t want anything to do with people whose character is to make other people feel shit simply because they feel shit. Or to bring other people down because they feel down. Or to shout at someone and upset them because they are angry and upset.
I really don’t understand all the anger many people seem to carry round with them. Whatever has happened in your life you have two choices: if you can change it or fix it then get on and do it, and if it’s not fixable or changeable (like chronic ill health) accept it and live with joy despite it. Living the rest of your life in anger and misery, and spreading that to everyone around you like a virus, simply isn’t an option.