Bad Things Happen

Bad Things Happen

Sometimes something happens that threatens to break the natural feeling of trust I have in people. I’ve been accused of being in a world of my own half the time, of being naive and not “street-wise” (whatever that means — I’ve always struggled to picture the proper meaning of that expression). But I value my innocence, my trusting nature. I cherish the hope I carry that there is good in people and I’m rarely disappointed. I try to treat people with courtesy and respect… but there are some people out there in the world who do intentional harm to others — take advantage of that innocent trust — and that causes me pain. Pain because people I care about get hurt. Pain because the world is not as I believe it ought to be. Pain because my trust is injured.

I wrote this on that theme: it’s about the damage done to innocence when bad things happen; it’s about the impotence felt when the wrong can’t be made right. It’s… a faint cry in the dark, soon swallowed by the night and forgotten.

There are times when the world is right,
When the skies are so blue and bright,
And there’s never a cloud in sight.

There’s no danger to make us hide,
No dread terrors to force eyes wide,
And no evil… oh, but I lied.

The righteous bow before might,
The sword will determine who’s right
As they lead us out of the light.

Tell your children, the herald cried,
The hands of the good have been tied,
Flame of hope in my heart has died.

9 thoughts on “Bad Things Happen

  1. I think this is what they mean when they say unkindness causes ripples, it breeds more unhappiness and pain, spreading out like an oil slick. I’m so sorry that my story made you feel such helplessness and disillusionment. I always cheer myself up with the thought that most people are far too self-absorbed to think up ways of hurting others. 😛

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      1. I survived my entire teens and twenties by being cynical and ultrapragmatic. In my late twenties I started to let go of that and become more trusting and nicer to people, because I wanted to spread niceness and smiles, not misanthropy. I promptly got taken advantage of in some really horrendous ways over the next few years. 😛

        I still prefer being nice to people and assuming good intentions. I don’t see it as my right to treat others suspiciously and to make them feel bad simply because I’ve had some bad experiences. They aren’t responsible for that.

        Sometimes my old cynical misanthropic self helps me put things in perspective, though. Most people aren’t bad. They’re completely indifferent. 😉

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        1. I was going to reply to this earlier. I started thinking about how I got through my teenage years… and there was this elephant in the room. It’s still there but I’ve faced it now and it doesn’t look nearly as big or scary. So I’ve got another post, even if I did sit up all night writing it — sometimes I just have to plow on and work through something from my past that has been a weight on my mind.

          I’ve not had many experiences where I’ve realized I was being taken advantage of, but perhaps in my naivety I missed all the signs. There were a couple of times I did get hurt, but those stories must wait for another day. I’m not ready to open those doors just yet.

          Is it really being cynical and misanthropic, or is it simply experience providing a more accurate, balanced view?

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          1. Is it wrong to feel proud of you for confronting those memories? I mean that sounds weird. But I am. I’m punching the air and going “YOU ARE SO AWESOME” and I don’t think I have a right to feel proud of someone else doing something. But I am.

            Also, I can’t stop picturing a really cute baby elephant standing on a coffee table in the middle of your living room. But that’s the visual/literal thinking. It’s a cute elephant though. He’s a bit heavy and he’s broken most of the furniture but he can’t help being that way.

            In my case, it was definitely misanthropy. Both internalised and outspoken. I often said things about most of humanity being too stupid to wipe their own arses unless told to do so. I felt that universal suffrage was the worst thing ever. I saw everyone as intensely selfish and incapable of doing things that didn’t benefit them immediately, even if it was clear that it would benefit all of society, including themselves, in the long run. I made jokes about genocide and tyrannical rule. I had a very dark sense of humour and it made people laugh so I kept on making those jokes. I had a reputation as a sharp wit. I roasted other people in public. No, let’s say it like it is: I bullied and hurt other people in public. All to keep myself safe and to keep a wall between other people and myself so I wouldn’t be vulnerable.

            I’m not proud of that phase in my life. But even though I am only just now starting to work on opening up and letting myself be vulnerable (fecking SCARY), at least I let go of the misanthropy long ago. I miss making people laugh but I don’t miss the hurt on the faces of the people I insulted just to get some laughs. Not at all.

            And like you say, the experience has given me a tool to be a bit more realistic in my dealings with others, instead of setting my expectations too high. People aren’t perfect. They simply do the best they can from day to day. It’s messy and ugly and disappointing sometimes. And that’s OK. It’s not my responsibility to make others perfect.

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            1. How do I feel about inspiring pride? This is difficult to express. There’s a part of me that needs validation and is doing a little victory dance. But there’s also a part of me that squirms in discomfort and has reservations. It does make me very happy — for the right reasons I hope — because it’s good to have my effort recognized. It’s the reward part I feel ambivalent about because it is so linked to the struggles I’ve faced dealing with the negative side of perfectionism. But I guess as long as I maintain my awareness of the risk I will be able to handle it in a healthy way. Which is a long-winded way of saying that I’m don’t think it’s wrong.

              I wasn’t sure about leaving the elephant in, but once I saw it I had to accept it. Mine, also a baby one, was hiding behind the curtain — don’t ask me how. It’s actually kind of cute and seems playful. The furniture is fine 🙂

              I was going to say I’ve never been misanthropic and then I stopped because I saw aspects of my own thinking in what you describe. Of despising people for not holding the “right” opinions or behaving in the “right” way. Of dismissing other people’s beliefs as credulous idiocy.

              Building walls — Pink Floyd pops to the front of my consciousness here — is something I identify with. Imagery of castles and keeps, of impregnable bunkers. It’s my need to feel safe, and it results in my not being very open with people in the flesh. If I can stay behind my wall they can’t hurt me. Because you are so right: vulnerability is frickin’ terrifying. One reason I don’t get close to people, or allow them to get close to me is that fear of being hurt, but I do have times where I need to share things and for that I need somebody close, somebody I can trust not to hurt me. It can take so long to build that trust and it is a fragile thing.

              Making people laugh: yes, I love that feeling. I manage it very well occasionally, usually through some form of word play — so much for Aspies being humorless. 😉 The kind of “humor” that involves hurting somebody’s feelings though… that just makes me feel uncomfortable.

              Having realistic expectations of people is important, I think. In my case I can tend to set the bar rather low, but at least I’m not so disappointed when they then behave in a way I don’t feel comfortable with, such as malicious gossip. Well, what else could you expect from them? Oops, shades of misanthropy in that 😉

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