A red flag: I would never do something like that!

Note: This is a difficult post to write because it has phrases that are sometimes used by people who are blaming victims. I’m saying something else, but I’m not sure I’ve successfully expressed it.

So this is a thing that happens:

Someone does something bad while they’re angry/drunk/overloaded/sad/hungry.

And then they hurt someone doing that thing.

And then they want the person they hurt to pretend it never happened. Because the real them would never do something like that. The real them, when they’re not angry/drunk/overloaded/hungry/stressed, would never act that way.

And, the thing is… people are real all the time. People are their real selves when they’re in bad states of mind. Don’t try to separate. If you did something, you did it. Which isn’t to say that the reasons are irrelevant. They matter. But, they don’t erase anything. 

What you do when you’re drunk or overloaded or tired etc is also who you are. And the reasons matter, because they affect what the solution to the problems is, but you have to be willing to acknowledge that it was you who did it.

And, your desire not to have done the thing does not erase the harm done. And it doesn’t make you trustworthy. And it doesn’t obligate the person you did it to to trust you again.

An example of ways in which the reasons matter:

  • Jane demands that Isaac have an extended conversation with her, while looking her in the eye and holding his hands still
  • Isaac gets overloaded and starts screaming

In this case, the solution is that Jane needs to stop making unreasonable demands on Isaac, and Isaac may well not need to do anything differently at all. But it’s still the case that Isaac was a person he screamed. And trying to separate into the real Isaac and the scary guy who screamed leads nowhere good.

People are real all the time. Good interaction depends on interacting with the person who is really there, which means acknowledging that they’re real even when they do bad things. And that you’re real even when you do bad things.