Falling asleep last night, probably feeling something quite difficult–it’s usually difficult at night–and I suddenly made this connection between the pain I felt and bullying.
I thought this feeling I have of being worthless and unimportant, this is about someone enhancing their feelings of status by bullying me, and it’s not processed or understood, because it’s so impossible to understand why your parents would do that. It’s clearly about my parents.
Narcissistic wounding is, “Someone is enhancing their sense of status by degrading mine.” At the time I thought this, it seemed immensely profound. Maybe it isn’t.
But it made me think someone who has been bullied by their own parents is likely to be hyper-alert to indicators of status: things like being excluded or not considered (as though you aren’t really part of the group and don’t need to be considered), these are all indications that someone might be intentionally lowering your social status in order to enhance their own.
Status has biological consequences: people with less status in society have higher levels of cortisol. Just like standing next to someone I feel cares about me enhances my feelings of well-being, automatically and without effort, perceiving oneself to have higher status decreases anxiety.
If I am both very alert to that and unable to make sense of it, well, that explains some things.
Then I was also thinking about my friend and her daughter. Daughter reacts to ordinary problems as though they are an imposition. Her dog has been vomiting a lot lately. Actually, since my friend asked me to leave. Since then, the dog began to vomit and the daughter’s rash flared up. Her wedding is in a month. No one around here sees this as a stressful life event, but it seems to me obvious it is.
Anyway, the dog vomited in my room once and once early in the morning when I was in the kitchen, but no one else seemed to be up. In both cases, I cleaned it up. I mean, it’s a dog. Pets vomit from time to time. It was 5 minutes out of my life at most. If I were so busy I didn’t feel I had 5 minutes to give to a dog, that would be different, but I have 5 minutes. It’s not a big deal.
But the daughter seems to be very bothered by this, as though dog vomit is the last straw in an already overwhelming life. She was quite–apologetic?–about my cleaning it up those two times. Surprised, anyway.
This kind of thing gives me the impression that ordinary life struggles and setbacks don’t seem to figure into either of their thinking about life, that unpleasant things will happen and these things are part of life and things you can live through.
I was talking to my friend the other day and there were catfood dishes and cans sitting in the sink soaking. I was cleaning out my coffee maker, which always leaves this horridly big coffee-grind mess in whatever was in the sink. So after washing the coffee maker, I rinsed the cans out and put them in the recycling bin and rinsed the two plates. It might have taken two minutes. Anyway, I was just standing there talking. I wasn’t exactly overburdened with things to do.
My friend was anxious about this, and very apologetic. I just explained the coffee makes a mess and if you leave the grounds in something, the coffee becomes difficult to remove. But it struck me. These are people for whom rinsing out two cat food cans and two plates is a big deal. It’s strange. To me, that’s just lazy.
I am sure there is some kind of meaning attached to it for them, maybe something to do with unfairness. It’s beyond me, but I know they probably aren’t the only ones like this.
I don’t know if this really connects, but I thought about the dog vomit and Daughter’s entrenched view of life as something that ought not to involve cleaning up vomit. It made me think of Nata, and how for Daughter, it seems like life would be fine if all of these little things were perfect, and I think life would be fine if Nata would just come back. Just a she feels life ought not to involve cleaning up vomit several times a day, I feel life ought not to involve murder. For most people, it doesn’t involve murder, but people are murdered. You can’t go through life unable to accept that it does happen when it has.
I know the comparison is extreme–they are hardly on the same level. But it does make me think.