Hi. I don’t know you. But people are talking about you so much, that I feel like I know you, especially after hearing the specific details they are sharing. It sounds like you’re going through some really hard times emotionally, as well as really public conflict with other people. That blows. Seriously. I’ve been there, and there is nothing more gut-wrenching than hearing that people hate you as much as you hate yourself. In a way, maybe this is what you were after – some outside force to confirm for you what you already believe; that there is nothing about your life that is salvageable. There is no part of you worth loving. Bridge-burning and self-destruction are all you’ve ever known, and it does seem easier to just go along with this plan-of-attack. At least if people can’t love you, you can control them by other means. Lying, picking fights, luring them into a web so that you can show someone –anyone- the real you. So you can feel something other than numbness and boredom.
I know what you’re doing. I did that. I manipulated people a lot, all the way through my adolescence and early-adulthood. After one particular BIG lie, I checked myself into a hospital and decided to change my course. I went to therapy after that. I started journaling. I take medication. I got a handle on it, for the most part. Sometimes if I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed or stressed out, I lash out in a small way, but I recognize it before it gets out of hand. And then I try to forgive myself for it – my coping mechanism for severe social anxiety and low self-esteem was unhealthy for most of my life. It’s impossible to change all at once. I’m still going to be affected by certain triggers, but how I react to those fears is within my control now. I know where my crazy switch is. I’m honestly a better person for having gone through the whole ordeal, and I know you could be too. But you have to decide to change. You have to understand by this point that what you’re doing is not sustainable. You are going to lose the good parts of you to the awful parts of you and everyone else.
When someone does something awful to us, we seek the comfort of others. We seek validation that we were wronged and that we are victims. When other people talk about your self-destruction, this is what they are doing. They have the right to do this. You can’t be mad at people for talking about you. You can’t be mad that people don’t understand you. You can’t be mad at people for telling you directly that you are terrible. Listen to them. Then let it go. Don’t try to win their empathy or compassion with your words. Your words have done enough damage, they are not going to listen anyway. Use that energy to show people you’re trying to be better. If that means you can’t talk to any of your old friends, then so be it. I lost countless friends to my crazy, people I genuinely liked and cared about. And it is within their rights to write me off as a lost cause. They saw enough of my bullshit to want to protect themselves from me. I forgive them. And I can’t control if they forgive me or not. I only have control over me.
Having gone through the battle for control over my own demons, I now have more compassion for the people who go through the same things. When I hear people talking about you, my heart just aches with remorse for my own sins against others. But I have to believe that people can change, and that emotional problems and destructive strategies are forgivable. I have to believe in the goodness in myself, so I believe in the goodness in you. You have the power to change your perceptions and insecurities and control issues. Seek the help you need, give people you care about some space. Don’t engage with the people you don’t care about, who invest their energies into bringing you further down into despair. They have their own issues.
The truth is that everyone is an asshole sometimes, and everyone is nuts about something. You are providing the gossip-squad the opportunity to vilify something they hate within themselves. They are deflecting attention away from their own fragile psyches. More than hatred for you and what you’ve done, they fear you. They trusted you, and you made a fool of them. And some of these people are afraid that they are capable of the same type of self-destruction you are enduring. That’s schaedenfreude, baby. It’s human nature. They won’t examine why they hate you, they’ll just act. Start to recognize the crazy switch in other people as you locate the one within yourself. You’ll grow to be more forgiving of others as you start to forgive yourself. I promise. Focus on you, radiate the good stuff you got, and keep trying. Don’t give up on yourself.
I know from experience, that the only way to stop crazy dead in its tracks is to totally disengage from it. It does not help you to hear through the grapevine that everyone is talking about how totally f*cked up you are. It only makes you feel like the victim of an attack. And when someone is under attack, they can behave irrationally, even when they are typically rational. When you’re already in a bad place, you bet you will have a completely irrational response. People should not give crazy the opportunity to fester even more. The best thing a bystander or a victim of manipulation can do for his or herself and for that suffering person is to just walk away, without a word. Or he or she will be lending more power to something that’s already consuming this miserable person. In the moment, it might feel good to them to pick you apart; you deserve it, after all. But who does it benefit? What does that person gain by exposing you? The people who talk about you are basically giving you more power and more attention, when that’s all you think you want in the first place. That’s letting crazy win. We are all capable of being bigger than that. We ought to be using our precious energies to help people, not further their destruction. The coolest people do not gossip about other people’s emotional problems or dark manifestations of self-loathing. The coolest people know that moments of pure joy and pleasure come from the celebration of good, not the vilification of bad. Personally, I want more joy and pleasure. You, dear crazy person, want that too. You just don’t know it yet.
I firmly believe that people are innately good, and whatever your demons tell you, it is possible to move out of your darkness and into your light. But it doesn’t come from perpetuating the cycle of negativity. It comes from compassion and acceptance of people, even when they suck. I’m truly very sorry that you are broken right now. But you may heal from this, and into a lovely person with healthy relationships, and no dark scary feelings that overtake you. You deserve to be loved. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to live in peace. I hope you figure that out soon, and as for all the rest of it – the mob, with the pitchforks and burning effigies, Etc. – eventually, there will be somebody else to collectively hate. People may never forgive or forget what you did to them, but their energies will direct elsewhere. You’ll have space and time to gather up your strength to live an honest life. But only you can decide when and how this happens. It’s no one else’s responsibility to make you feel happy and secure with yourself. It’s a journey we all take, and some of us get lost along the way. It’s okay. You’re not hopeless. No one is.