Better than better than

The hardest part of adulting is learning to let go of things. But it’s so important.

Someone hurt you and now you have some coping response?

Well too dang bad, because unless you take responsibility for it, you’re going to do it to someone else. Blame deflection and coping behaviors are ticking time bombs.

As evidence: I had to unlearn all kinds of things from family and peers growing up. I was paying trauma forward and had to own that so I could stop living in other people’s scars.

I had a friend who got genuinely hecked over by a family member, financially. Badly.

They kept blaming the payments on that loan for all their problems. It was bad, but they spent a lot of time dwelling on it. They spent a lot of time dwelling at me about it as an explanation for why they had no time to deal with the consequences of how they hurt me in a previous, untold story.

Of course, at the time, this person was someone I considered a good friend. I’m pretty good at writing, at research. I offered to help them job hunt, to edit their resume, to practice interviews, as a way to help get them out of that job that they spent plenty of time complaining about. I had plenty of free time.

In retrospect, I should have asked them to chill with complaining about it because it was wrecking my mental health. The excuses. The topic of setting boundaries is a post for another day! I wasn’t good at it then. They didn’t want my help, and rebuffed offers just bred resentment on both sides.

I’m not into and have many concerns about the modern Stoic movement, but I think the idea of taking responsibility for what you can control and trying not to fret what you can’t is solid. You can’t go back and make better calls, but stress and bad financial decisions are a cumulative loop. When you live in past errors, past traumas, it keeps you from dealing with the consequences and moving past it.

That person is no longer a friend because their scars became my scars, and they refused to make time to help heal them. They refused to even acknowledge what they did. I couldn’t heal them on my own with them in my life, so they didn’t get to be a part of it anymore.

I had to let them go. The years since that last conversation have been the most productive, most healing time of my life despite covid and a major life crisis (another story for another day).

Every person I got a bad behavior from was worse. Almost all of them I tried to talk to about it denied they were doing anything wrong. It doesn’t matter if you’re less abusive than your abuser. It doesn’t matter if you’re less unreliable than the people you couldn’t depend on. You still have to stop projecting it forward. Someone has to be the one to say “wait no, I messed up, I can be better than this” and break the chain.