A Lesson in Insensitivity
It’s easy for someone to forget that I’m not okay. I am good at putting on the ‘okay’ face and pretending that my heart isn’t still horribly mangled from losing my dad. It isn’t something I bring up meeting new people because I don’t want to be the “sad kid.” When someone makes an insensitive comment, it’s almost impossible to place blame on them because I’m good at acting like I’m okay.
Then, there are the people that make my blood boil. These are the people who should know better than to say the things they do to me, the ones who have been around long enough to know that my dad passed away and that it messed me up. I’m talking about the friends who say that they wish their parents would disappear or bring me into a conversation about the profitability of the cancer industry or assume that they can lecture me about the way I’m handling my grief.
This is a lesson for those people.
1. Your ignorance does not excuse your behavior.
Listen – if you don’t know that I’m still grieving my father’s passing from cancer, I will not blame you for making an insensitive comment. You aren’t omniscient. However, I will do my best to correct you to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. If you continue being insensitive to my situation, you cannot claim to be ignorant anymore. Changing your behavior is a common courtesy.
2. I may not confront you about it, but that doesn’t mean you were right.
I am not the kind of person to call you out about being insensitive in front of someone. Usually, I will try to talk to you in a neutral setting because it’s easier for me. I don’t want to inconvenience you, even if your comments have been one to me. If you are one of the lucky few that I don’t confront, that doesn’t mean you were right to make the comments. More likely, I didn’t think you would change the behavior after being talked to. What does that say about you?
3. If you’ve crossed the line, I do expect an apology.
I wear my heart on my sleeve, and losing my dad is a massive sore spot. My sensitivity with the issue changes depending on so many outside factors, so your comment might not cross the line. If my tolerance line is crossed, you will know. If my tolerance line is crossed, I do expect an apology. Whether it was an accident or not, an apology is a small act of human decency that makes me feel better.
4. It is not my job to police what you say.
I have better things to do than police your insensitive comments. After some time, I will come to associate those awful feelings your comments give me with you. That’s something that you will have to deal with because it will shape the way I treat you. As an adult, it is your job to behave and monitor your own comments, which I have no desire to do for you.
5. It is your job to do better, not mine.
After a certain point of insensitivity, there is nothing else I can do to help you. I’ve told you about my situation, explained why the comments upset me, and tried to mend the relationship. At some point, I will give up on you as a person. You cannot expect me to put up with the abuse of my feelings and situation. It is your job to be a decent human being, not my job to force you to do so.
6. What you say could permanently damage my opinions of you.
As I’ve said before, I will give up on you. If you continue to poke my sore spot, it will make me angry and I will make you aware of it. If it gets out of hand, I will end whatever relationship we have. I’ve struggled to get my mental health to where it is now, and I don’t think anyone is worth sacrificing that for.
7. I will not let you make me the bad guy.
This is something that I see a lot, especially in high school and college, and it’s a form of victim-blaming. I’m often blamed for my reactions to someone making me angry because I’m meant to be the bigger person. I don’t mind being a villain – I was voted most likely to be one in high school – but I will not let you make me into one if you’re the problem. You don’t deserve to make yourself the hero of the story when you’re the monster-of-the-week in mine.
I understand that the current political climate makes it hard for you to know what is and isn’t okay to say to someone. If I were to sum it up in a few words, they would be: stop being an asshole. If you’re over the age of 13, you should know better. If you’re friends with someone dealing with something, you should know to watch what you say. They shouldn’t have to come out looking like the bad guy because you can’t behave yourself. End of discussion.