Clouded vision

Sadness makes us truly selfish. “Never mind that,” we want to say, “what about me, me, my thoughts, my pain, what about me?” Hurt, anger, disappointment; they trap us in a fog of our own making. Someone who is hurting is stuck in an almost visible cloud of fog – they can’t see out clearly, to see the truth of other people’s behaviour, and they can’t hear clearly, to hear what people are really telling them. They can’t reach through it; everything they can perceive or understand is coloured and filtered by this fog. And the fog twists and tangles up their words when they speak, from what once seemed well-intentioned into unkindnesses; cruelty, sarcasm, dismissiveness, aggression.

I try and remember this: if out of nowhere someone behaves inexplicably hurtfully, it rarely has anything to do with me. It’s harder, sometimes, to remember to apply it to your own fog, and realise that you’re not seeing or understanding clearly because you can’t see past your own hurt. But it’s essential. Some people never manage it and get permanently stuck; what an extraordinary amount of hurt someone must have experienced, and how sad they must be, if they seem to be a truly unpleasant person.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Ian Maclaren (often misattributed to Plato)

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” – the Dalai Lama

“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies – God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.” – Kurt Vonnegut

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8 responses to “Clouded vision

  1. I’ve sometimes felt that when I’m stressed I start “load shedding”. There’s a lessened amount that I can cope with, and one of the things that I stop trying to do is think of others… not sure that it’s quite the same as what you describe, but I imagine it has a similar result.

    I’m not convinced that *all* unkindness is because of hurt or stress… but they certainly explain some.

    • I think that’s absolutely a sensible thing to do. It comes under the ‘put on your own oxygen mask first’ idea.

      I do honestly think that most – perhaps not all, but certainly most – cruelty and aggression comes from unhappiness. I can’t get my mind around the alternative; someone being genuinely truly happy, yet still wanting or being able to lash out at others.

  2. I can identify with the ‘load shedding’ Simon. I’ve been navigating away from ‘negative influences’ for the past year or so, and that’s partly because I’ve got plenty of stress at work so why open myself to more drama caused by others?

    It is hard to remember that everyone else is fighting a battle of some sort, and I’m very guilty of my own fog blinding me to that on occasion. Must try harder on that front!

    • Honestly, that’s partly why I wanted to post this – to gather some quotes to remind *myself* to be kind 🙂

      And as I just said to Simon, I think that’s very wise, to remove stressful influences when you’re not in a position to cope with them. It’s preemptive – if you don’t separate yourself, I think *that’s* one of the actions that puts you at risk of lashing out or being hurtful when you’ve reached your limit.

  3. How beautifully you describe how cut off a very sad person can feel. “They can’t reach through it; everything… is coloured and filtered by this fog.” I think that is particularly true of hidden sadness. This ‘thing’ is what informs all your thoughts and feelings yet you can’t talk about it, so you can’t get beyond it. (And I love the Vonnegut quote.)

    • Yes! In fact, when I posted this it was provoked by a few other discussions going on elsewhere, but it didn’t seem like it had much to do with poly. Yet now you’ve mentioned hidden sadness… I have a poorly-disguised love of advice columns and internet problem pages, and this actually does come up – think “my girlfriend’s just broken up with me; my wife’s being amazing but I can’t talk to anyone else because no-one knows we’re poly”. Fears and sadnesses only grow worse in the dark.

      I genuinely find it hard to imagine someone who is genuinely fully happy and self-contained being capable of hurting someone else. It doesn’t make sense to me.

    • This immediately made me think of these lyrics. It’s not quite about the same thing, but there’s a similarity in being cut off from the world…

      http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/pinkfloyd/lostforwords.html

  4. The first episode of The Dark Charisma of Hitler shows him to have been a hurt, failing, and angry, man. If only he could have reached through that cloud of fog…

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