I do not like being manipulated. Who does really? I realize we all do it though, in some form or another. My modus operandi is retreating into victimhood when under severe emotional distress. It is a loathesome flaw I am also compelled to point out in others. For me, it stems from being an actual victim, first in childhood. When my “fight or flight” is triggered, I fight by trying to make my “attacker” feel sorry for me.
It did take therapy to own this behavior. Kudos to those of you who ferried across on a different vessel. I trust it was still excruciating.
I disgust myself sometimes. Disgust, shame, contempt. It’s hard to admit these things to myself, and here I am telling you. (Is this harbor safe?) Fuck it. Let these sentences serve both as my confession and promise to the world at large: I’m not a child anymore dammit!
Why am I telling you this? A recent messenger exchange. But I recognized the manipulation immediately, thanks to years spent curled and rocking behind my eye sockets.
Message I received:
“I’m fine. I had company over in the yard for dinner. My post was about RBG.”Too busy for you
I know, seems innocuous right? Except, it isn’t.
“Too busy for you” (moniker by me) and I have actual conversations. We talk of dreams and desires, grievances and slights, pain and sentience. It has been a minute since we’ve had a late night exchange though. Instead, I’ve taken up letter writing again.
Who was this woman clipping these sentences with distinct periods? I wanted to scream:
“I wrote you a fucking letter- with pen and actual paper! Then I braved the fucking post office for extra stamps for the stupid oversized envelope, and this is how you respond?!”
And there it is; did you catch it?
Now, I am not saying there was no manipulation on her part, because it’s definitely there. But my visceral reaction: Child-victim, stamping my feet, begging for reciprocity I feel I deserve. What’s interesting though, it took my knee jerking to recognize her manipulation.
This is a pattern replicated in nanoseconds, netting all social media, (yes YouTube too). If I am overcome with some emotional response to internet content, (the goal is almost always outrage), there is a high probability this is manipulation by design. And “Too Busy for You’s” second line was designer.
You see, she had 3 days to respond to my first question and nearly 2 to my second, asking if she was “okay”. It wasn’t until I mentioned she could just tell me to “fuck off” if she didn’t want to talk to me anymore, she finally answered.
She had company “in the yard for dinner” for three days?
I refuse to feel embarrassed or ashamed for trying to connect with people. That line was aimed and sharp, its subtext being, “you sound desperate and have no life”.
You carve time for people you care about and you answer messages without persistent prodding, even if that message is to say, fuck off.
At least, that is what I do. I fight. I rarely flee.