It's kind of ironic -- two days ago I wrote a post asking my friends to call me on my mistakes. Then followed it up with another post that several people called me on. Quite rightly, because I got carried away by my own rhetoric, and lost track of the points I was really trying to make. Being angry, upset, and short on sleep can lead to stupid mistakes, as I damned well ought to know from occasionally trying to drive in that condition.
It's doubly ironic, because I was trying to call some friends on their mistakes. Let's try again, shall we?
Sometimes you have to tell a friend something they really don't want to hear. It's hard. Sometimes it involves a mistake they don't realize they're making, which is bad enough. Sometimes it involves something they're afraid to admit to themselves. That's worse; because it can be perceived as a threat to who they think they are. You can lose a friend, messing with that kind of dynamite. Been there, done that.
Usually they don't listen, but if you're really their friend, you have to try. Sometimes, as in the case I'm thinking of at the moment (I'll get to some specifics further down), you make stupid mistakes that dilute your message. It's really easy for them to focus on a fact you got wrong, or the hurtful way you said it, and to ignore the message.
It's all to easy to give up at that point, or to not even get to that point. To pat them on the head and say "I hope everything gets resolved" or some such, and go on your way hoping that you were right. It's guaranteed to make your friend feel better, which is a good thing, right?
(Aside: I now understand a little better where religious evangelists are coming from. But I'm not going there tonight.)
So let's get to the specific case in point. If you're tired of seeing posts about what's going on with my friends in Seattle, you might want to stop here. Or, better, you might want to read on and comment if you see me getting it wrong again. Because I think it's important to keep trying.
Here's the main point: my friend (not "former" friend -- if I didn't still care a lot about her, I'd just give up on her) has said repeatedly that she's not a danger now. That "I do not wish her harm". That she's on her guard now, and has her temper under control.
That. Is. Her. Mistake. How can she possibly know?
It's been less than two months since the assault. The court has ordered a psychiatric evaluation, but that hasn't happened yet. Let alone any therapy that might be recommended (or required -- I don't know how these things work) as a result. She hasn't yet finished -- may not even have started -- the anger management program that would teach her how to keep her temper in check.
I don't think she ever wished to harm her partner. But she did. She says that her temper is under control. But she said that before the attack, too. She was wrong then, what makes anyone think she isn't wrong now?
She said "But that isn't me" -- but if that's true, then there's somebody else in her head, who comes out when she's angry and takes over her body. Maybe I'm wrong about that bit -- I'm neither a psychiatrist nor an exorcist. It sure sounded like that, the times I heard her voice when she got angry.
That kind of thing can take years to get a handle on -- I've spoken to some of my friends who've struggled with various forms of dissociation. It's not something that she can fix in a couple of months before even knowing in detail what she's up against. There's a reason why she's going to be under the court's supervision for the next two years, and why an order of protection runs for a year and can be renewed for a second.
It's going to be a long, hard road. And it's going to require deep, lasting change, which I know from talking with her former partner is what she's really terrified of. No wonder she's looking for shortcuts!
But this isn't just about my friend, it's also about her friends. Yeah, some of you, too.
Do you really you're doing her a favor when you let her lie to herself?
When you let her shift as much of the blame as possible to her victim?
When you tell her you hope this all gets resolved soon?
How about telling her the truth -- that she's looking at a couple of years of court-ordered inconvenience and hard psych work? And, if you're really her friend, that you're going to give her all the help and encouragement you can, but she has to start walking down that road herself before she can get to the end of it.
... it's getting late, and I'm liable to say something stupid if I keep going in this direction. Must. Keep. Walking... G'night, friends.
ETA: I know all of her friends wish her well, and that some of you may be giving her good advice and help behind the scenes. Keep it up! I've been trying that route, too; there's a lot of email you haven't seen. She's going to need a lot of support from all of us over the next couple of years.
ETA(2): Barring something very unusual happening, I expect this to be my last post on this subject. Flame wars are unproductive and exhausting, and I may not be getting any wiser, but I'm certainly getting older. I hope to provide more light and less heat in the future.