Today’s case in point was my sister. We had an argument over MSN this morning, which started with her well-intentioned advice to help me get better. It consisted essentially of “get out more, and be less self-focused”. In her mind, I’m ill because I stay at home. So I need to get out more and do things for other people. In my reality, I stay at home when I’m exhausted and need to rest. I feel much, much worse when I ignore what my body is telling me and push myself to go out when I’m not feeling well.
The subtle sub-theme is that I’m selfish because I do things that I like, and I don’t do enough things for other people. That really pisses me off, partly because it’s not true, but mostly because it belies a total misunderstanding of who I am. My sister barely spends any time with me, and judges me negatively on things she doesn’t even know about. It leaves me to justify the things I do that make me a good person. I hate that bullshit. We are not good because of what we do, or what we believe. We just are.
This pushes my buttons because my family uses pathetic excuses to avoid actually acknowledging their feelings or anyone else’s. This leads to a lack of empathy and a stubborn refusal to see anyone’s point of view but their own. I don’t want to recount the whole argument, but it was clear that to my sister, understanding another person and how they feel just isn’t important. And frankly, that gives me the shits. Being understood is a very basic human need; I’m not the only one with it, but if you were to talk to people in my family, you’d think I had some sort of problem for wanting understanding instead of unhelpful “advice”. I don’t really mind people giving me advice that I find unhelpful; it’s their reaction when I point out that there are good reasons why what they are suggesting is counter-productive that annoys me. They get on their self-righteous hobby-horse and start making out like I’m a bad person because I’m ill. This is one reason Christian-bible-based religious sects give me the shits. Surely we’ve moved on in our understanding of illness in the 21st century can acknowledge that sick people aren’t necessarily sick because they’re doing the wrong thing. That attitude is just tailor-made for hitting my buttons.
I think my inability to express my anger, and the lack of empathy and understanding I’ve received from my family my whole life, and their invalidation of my sensitivity, are probably the root cause of the stress that I feel. If the amygdala theory is correct, then this is a major contributor to why I’m ill. Not the fact that I stay home and rest when I’m exhausted! I was quite proud of myself for telling my sister to “fuck off” when she was piling on the guilt-inducing nonsense. I don’t need more of that bullshit. Perhaps one day I’ll be thanking her for giving me the opportunity to act more assertively in the face of her misguided judgementalism.
Thanks for the opportunity to vent…