When someone assaults my mental health, I suffer gravely. Recently, I got called a loser, a control freak, and — worst of all! — a Liberal by someone who didn’t like that I contained his rant in a support group. The person in question had admitted to not taking one of his meds, so there is reason to forgive his crazed outburst, but I felt as if the whole group had jumped on me. Only this one person said anything.
I have to fight this variation of catastrophizing every time I find myself in a conflict. I find the slightest grain of truth in what is said about me and turn it into a crippling self-indictment. If this small piece is true, then am I a bad person? I ask. Should I leave the group? Do the others in the group want me gone for being a troublemaker (a question I ask even when I keep my temper and the other person is by any reasonable estimate the one wholly in the wrong). My anger should be placed outside my self in these situations and directed at its instigator. The onus is not on me.
Friends urge me to see it not as my problem, but as the other person’s. But how did I get into this situation?, I ask. Should I have kept my mouth shut?
I once had a therapist who would have made me feel miserable about this whole affair. In her eyes, it was my poor interactions with the world that led me to these crises. Someone else once said “It takes two to tango” when I was under siege by a borderline. I am thrall to this stupid, American insistence on balance, on not taking sides. And I give it my blessing.