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On taking

Most people I find (at least the ones I seem to most often associate with) see being “mean” as the worst possible thing you can be. They equate it with cruelty and malice, and see it as, if you’ll forgive the melodramatic phrasing, a real evil.

I have a problem with meanness. When I feel powerless or reduced, I get mean. It’s a way of venting the poison. Meanness means I am fierce and in control, I feel like I have power again. It sometimes gives me the boost I need to make a change happen.

It's not okay; in fact, it's unacceptable. I am working to fix this part of myself, though it's so natural to me I imagine it will take me a long time to truly move past. That's not an excuse not to work at it, though, and at the very least I can improve and do better in the meantime.

But maybe because I work that way, I don't see "meanness" as the worst thing to be. Sure, it can cause pain, but if someone is mean to me, I feel better able to handle it than some other things. You know what personally offends me the most? I call it “being a taker.” The expression of selfishness that focuses on one’s own needs in a manner that imposes on someone else. It’s one thing to accept an offer earnestly made, or to be in a reciprocal relationship where involved persons support one other in kind. But I can’t stand when someone expects things from others—time, attention, effort, care, resources, et cetera —without trying to invest just as much effort and consideration into the relationship.

I don't mean just any kind of person who prefers to have a network of interdependence with others. I mean the kind of person who only calls when they need a ride, a hand, a favor. The person who never offers to be the person to drive or to pay or to cook. The person who’s happy to enjoy your hospitality time and again but never thinks to ever treat you in any way. The person who uses you like their therapist rather than their friend. These people make my blood boil— I mean, if you are grateful and you care about a person, how could it never occur to you to ever try to take care of them the way they take care of you?

It’s not about love being a ledger where scores have to be kept—it’s about relationships having to be equal or else they don’t work. That you should put just as much effort and care into someone as they’re putting into you. You don’t have to pay it back the same way. If you are strapped for cash, or can’t cook or don’t have a car, make it up in effort of some other kind. Or at the fucking least, verbally acknowledge it. Jesus Christ, if it doesn’t even occur to you that you ought to take care of people who have taken care of you, WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?

It’s one of the promises I make to any person who becomes my friend. I will take nothing from you that I cannot repay. If I don’t have the same thing you gave to me, I will make it up in some other form. You will not be the poorer for having been my friend. Not in ANY sense.

Additionally, when I am suffering, when I am tired, when I am depleted, do you know what gives me more relief than anything? Having nothing expected or needed of me. Being excused from the obligation to anything or anyone else. Being in a state where no one needs my time nor attention nor energy nor focus nor resources of any kind.

I may be mean sometimes, and there's no excuse for that. But I am not weak, I will never be your burden. I will never be a taker.

Maybe my priorities are a little misplaced. But personally that troubles me a lot more.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
londo
Jul. 3rd, 2014 05:57 pm (UTC)
Maybe my priorities are a little misplaced.

Be the you that makes you happy, and don't sweat this.
lillibet
Jul. 4th, 2014 07:16 am (UTC)
There are lots of ways to be careless of other people.

Like you, meanness is something I've struggled with--for me the only thing that fixed it was having a partner with whom it is unacceptable and it's still hard sometimes, but I like being a nicer person.

On the other hand, I also have very good boundaries. So there's that.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

About Me

My name is Phoebe. I'm Boston area theater professional and English professor focused in writing, acting, directing, and modeling. I'm known for having lots of interests, lots of opinions about those interests, and a very high estimation of the value thereof. This blog is for talking about whatever's on my mind, from my daily life to my activities to musing on any number of abstract topics. Thanks for taking the time to read.

My productions:

Upcoming Productions:



MRS. HAWKING part 2 and 3


at the Watch City Steampunk Festival 2016

presented by The Chameleon's Dish

Vivat Regina
by Phoebe Roberts

at 2PM

and

Base Instruments
by Phoebe Roberts

at 6PM

Saturday, May 13th 2017
at 274 Moody Street, Waltham, MA

Other Achievements:

"The Tailor at Loring's End" screenplay
Quarter Finalist in the Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Competition 2013

"Adonis" screenplay
Top Ten Percent in the Bluecat Screenwriting Contest 2015

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