HOW DO YOU STOP ASSUMING PEOPLE ARE BAD

11 Feb

I mean, since infancy I was taught hardcore that humans are inherently evil and that only with Jesus’ help can we Change™. The only other option was to live a life of sin, hurting everyone around you while you destroyed yourself with not only your own selfishness and fundamental inability to ever do anything without mucking it up, but also with thoughts/feelings/actions that are generally understood as natural and healthy. And because I took this message so much to heart, accepting as true everything my parents/church/revisionist textbooks offered me, I grew up despising myself. Not just because I was bad, but also because of the many occasions on which my sobbing mother demanded I ask Jesus to change me and of course he didn’t. I despised myself because I was irrevocably bad.

In addition to turning never-ending bitter cynicism inwards, I also developed a super unhealthy interpretation of criticism, disagreement, general fuck-ups, and the other people in my life/people I didn’t know/fictional people presented in media. I don’t actually believe it, on a conscious level, but I don’t know how to kill it either. Sometimes I can’t help myself from asking another person if they think I’m bad because fill-in-the-blank (and “no” is still surprising). And when I hear other people fight or hurl insults at each other, my first reaction is, that’s bad. That person is bad and they just ruined a relationship forever and now no one will love them because they’re bad.

I’m knee-deep in a 1990s sitcom right now and I think part of the reason I’m so enthralled with the serial portrayal of interpersonal relationships is that I’m up to episode 56 and nobody’s been abandoned or disowned. Nobody’s said, “Oh my god, I can’t believe you said that about me. If that’s how you feel, I’m out of here.” I’m ridiculously fascinated with this mysterious world in which petty insults in the heat of the moment are not assumed to be the best indicator of a person’s real feelings, disagreements are fucking dealt with, and relationships develop/shift/end organically according to the needs and desires of the people involved. Do normal people really take this shit for granted.

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