Tuesday, 14 July 2015

The Accidental Arseholes

In my job I get to be nice to a lot of people.  And they're nice right back to me.  Which is nice all round!  No wonder I'm happy in my work.  That's the way it is with people we don't know very well though isn't it?  We know how to behave, we know our boundaries.  We treat each other with respect and dignity and expect nothing less in return.  On the extremely rare occasion a customer is unpleasant to me, I still smile sweetly, however I make a mental note that he or she is an arsehole and remember not to go out of my way for them next time, then move on to the next thing.  End of story, like Taylor Swift I shake it off, shake it off.

People are always telling me I'm strong.  Sure, I'm strong when it comes to pulling rabbits out of hats so I can feed my family.  I'm strong when it comes to standing up against people who are nothing more to me than a stranger's name at the bottom of a bill or an insurance company.  I'm strong when it comes to talking my way out of a parking fine.  And I'm strong when it comes to fighting for the underdog.  But when it comes to standing up against people you love?  I'm the biggest wuss on the planet.  The thing is, as I've discovered, it is these people you need to stand up to the most of all.

I can't believe it's only been a month since I wrote; it feels like a year.  These past weeks have been absolute hell, for reasons I unfortunately still can't say.  I have never felt so desperate, so hopeless, so horrendously alone in my whole life and I didn't know if there was ever going to be a solution or an end to it.  To be honest I still don't, I'm just hoping against hope.  I don't pray very often but I've been doing a lot of that too.  The crap thing is, I know that even if I have reached the light at the end of the tunnel in this situation, I'm already hurtling along from one hell straight into another, because all the while I've been barely able to function and unable to deal or act with everything going on around me, I have emerged closer now to losing my home than ever.

But that's another blog for another day, I need to gather my thoughts before we catch up on that.  The good thing is that as always, something positive has come out of this almost unbearable time.  I have learned a LOT and it is that I want to share today because I believe I am far from alone.  I apologise in advance for the frequent use of the word 'arsehole'; you can change it to whatever you want, it's just a word that resonates with me and makes it all a little less dramatic and serious because it is a serious subject.

Some people are natural born arseholes.  They are always arseholes, day in day out and are arseholes to everyone.  Fortunately these are relatively few and far between.  What are far more common however are the acquired arseholes.  You see these all the time but may not recognise them yet. These are people who are nice to pretty much everyone else except you.  They used to be nice to you as well but somewhere along the line you threw them a doormat and lay down and let them walk all over you.  They know you better than anyone, know how to push your buttons, manipulate you, guilt trip you and quite frankly treat you like shit, all without consequences.  You're not sure how or when things became this way but they did.  Why?  Because you love them.  Even though they make you feel bad, like you don't matter, like you're nothing, you still love them.  Which is pretty ironic really isn't it, considering we pour all our time, love and energy into making THEM feel good!

When it comes to natural born arseholes, there's nothing you can do but let's face it most of us don't want them in our lives anyway.  Let them go and hang out with the other natural borns!  It's the acquired arseholes which are the problem because you love them with all your heart but they are bringing you DOWN.  I see examples of acquired arseholes all the time on Facebook statuses - parents who are miserable and downtrodden because their kids take them for granted and do nothing around the house.  Couples where one half is permanently in a state of heartbreak because they make all the effort and do all the giving and the other does nothing but sit back on their laurels and take, take, take.  I'm sure you can think up a few more examples but they all have one thing in common. They behave that way towards you because you LET them.  It's your house but the kids have the run of it.  They talk back or even down to you because there are no consequences.  Your partner doesn't need to put any effort into your relationship because they already know you'll do enough for both of you.  The longer you go on accepting this acquired behaviour, the more you start to shrink inwardly. You feel sapped of energy until you no longer even feel like getting up in the mornings.  If the people you love most treat you like crap, well you must be nothing, right?  How can you respect yourself if they don't respect you? You must be a really bad, worthless person.

I realised during the worst of this hellish period that I have been allowing people to make me feel this way for a very long time.  I'll repeat that, I ALLOWED them.  They did not force this behaviour on me, I permitted them to treat me this way.  It doesn't matter whether your acquired arseholes are children or adult, they ONLY act this way because they have been allowed to. And as we all know with habits which have developed over a long period of time, it is very hard to break.  But it can be broken.  I broke it.  It almost broke me in the process but I did it.  You don't like to pull them up short.  You don't want to say 'mean things' (they're not actually mean, they're long overdue, you just feel mean saying them) because you don't want to hurt them, you want them to still like you.  And you know what?  They still will like you.  Because even if they don't see it straight away, deep down they know their behaviour isn't OK either.  After all, they're good people really, that's why you love them.

I'm sharing this because I know there are people out there as broken as I have been.  It is only when you realise that YOU are the problem - not them, that you realise that you also have the power to become the solution.  Once you have that knowledge and start standing up to your arseholes you WILL see results.  It's pretty bloody liberating I can tell you.  It's a shame isn't it, that we can't all just be nice and have everyone be nice back, just like the customers at work? But it's OK to command respect from the people you love; in fact it's vital that you do.  So to all those people on Facebook whose sad statuses I have read lately and the many more who suffer in silence, please learn from me. This is probably the most honest thing I have ever written and to anyone who has never been in this position you will most likely think it's a load of complete codswallop.  But to anyone who has, I hope it helps.  Someone once said to me 'being nice gets you nowhere'.  I disagree - it most definitely does. But as with anything in life there has to be a balance. As I have learned, it's never too late to find yours!


  1. Thank you for putting your thoughts out there. They rang a bell for me. You are brave and very strong. I know, no I believe, that everything will work out for you.

  2. I've been in this hell myself Jackie so I really do sympathise. Here is a link to a brilliant anger strategies webinar run by Dr David Gruder which I am attending at the moment. The first part of the course is on how to set boundaries .This is the overview - highly recommended