For a while now, I have been afraid of writing dissenting opinions and questions (no matter how polite I think I’m being) on other people’s posts. I often do it anyway, but I expect to be jumped upon. And sometimes I am indeed derided for asking a question.
This most recently happened in a group I’m part of. It had to do with whether someone was intending to be sexist with their comment. This is naturally a charged topic. The question got met with such replies as “are you serious?” (which is a fair question) and, after the commenter continued to go around my question and I asked him if he intended to answer, he simply said “at this point, no”.
Now, those of you who know me know I’m sensitive. My response was “Fine, that’s your prerogative”, so I didn’t jump all over him. I do think however that sexism can be (and so often is) so ingrained in society that people might not be aware they are being sexist. I shared this with him, and said that obviously I don’t know him so I didn’t want to judge. The problem is that I was already judging well before he replied to anything. Also, sexist comments are against the group rules, and sexist comments piss me off. I wound up bowing out and apologizing to him because I thought I was coming across as an interrogator. I bowed out because I was afraid of the confrontation…and was simultaneously angry at myself for bowing out because I felt so strongly about the subject.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that, when I ask questions or comment, lately I’ve been so sensitive that I wind up going through several iterations of a comment in my head before I comment. I’m so afraid of offending someone. This has childhood bases, but also adult ones: at times I’ve written something I had no idea would even remotely be offensive, only to receive a cold shoulder or passive aggression from others, even one or two I thought were good friends.
I recognize that I’m being quite hypervigilant, and who gives a damn what someone I don’t know in a group thinks of me (friends–now ex-friends–and family are a different matter however), but for fuck’s sake, positive COMMUNICATION is key toward resolving any disputes. Cutting off contact and then leaving passive-aggressive comments on my feed is only going to hurt things. This last sentence refers most specifically to conduct by a friend I’d had for perhaps 10 years. (Incidentally, I communicated that I believed she was writing things on my wall that were provocations in my opinion. I don’t remember the full details and I have no desire to try to remember all of them. I’d sooner put my heart over a cheese grater.)
Such hypervigilance and fear of being judged by others are large parts of why I hardly go out to meet friends anymore. I think they’re going to suck, or I’m going to come across wrong, or I suck, and things won’t click and it’ll be pointless. So I’m setting myself up for disaster before I even seriously consider going. Right now the only faith I have in interpersonal relationships is that they will either not materialize or, once they do and my emotions are involved, they will become fucked up and implode.
I really hate feeling sometimes. I need to be kinder to my warped neural pathways and decide they are the product of something I had little choice about.in my formative years.