On Hurting People into Loving You

After several years of tragic patterns, I have come into a deeper understanding of the fact that being made to feel unimportant/undesired by the people who mean the most to me is one of the deepest-cutting kinds of hurt that I can feel. (I do not appreciate that I’ve had to learn this the hard way, and for God’s sake, I wish the lesson would stop trying to teach itself to me over and over. I get it. I’ve learnt! Now, can I please stop getting hurt like this?) The very same tragic patterns have taught me another thing about myself, highly related to the first one: my reaction to being made to feel unimportant/undesired by my loved ones is to cultivate cutting pettiness. It turns me into the ugliest version of myself.

I’ve learned a lot about this pettiness; enough to know that I don’t display merely because of uncontrollable rage. On the contrary, there’s nothing particularly ­uncontrollable about it. When I am uncontrollable, it comes out through screaming and crying, not coldly-delivered, carefully-constructed, cruel words. But my pettiness? That stuff is intentional and calculated. When someone has hurt me deeply, it is not uncommon for me to spend several minutes/hours/days thinking up what to say at the next opportunity that might satisfactorily hurt them. And once is hardly ever enough for me. I can lash out with continuous, targeted pettiness for several months. My hurt doesn’t fade easily. But then, neither do the circumstances causing it. In fact, those tend to only grow stronger, with me as a witness.

A while ago, I wrote about one of the many stories behind my spoken word poem, “Ephemeron,” in the blog post, “An Ephemeron Story.” In that blog post, I told the story of how I antagonized a girl for drastically interfering with the relationship between myself and one of my best friends. I wrote another related blog post involving a different girl who also contributed to the composition of “Ephemeron,” in the post, “When Your Male Best Friend Becomes Someone Else’s Boyfriend.” In this era of my life that was characterized by consistent and relentless heartbreak, another of my best friends started dating a girl I ended up being roommates with (which is just a testament to the pettiness of the universe). I was incredibly rude and drama queen-ish about their relationship for the longest time, because I was hurting, and I wanted them (well, mostly him) to feel my hurt, or at least to feel some hurt.

Very recently, I have experienced a similar kind of disappointment; a person I love and who surely should have known better after all these years did something mindless that left me feeling irrelevant next to someone else. There is nothing that can explain or excuse his actions—they just don’t make sense—and on the day of the offense, there was nothing that could diffuse my anger and pain. As usual, I inflicted some of my calculated pettiness almost immediately after it happened, and I have thought almost incessantly since then about inflicting more. Instead, I have chosen silence (only for long enough to take care of my own anger; my silence is more for his sake than mine, since I’m trying to become more mature in my adult years). The reason is that I have learnt from my own disappointment.

When I feel offended in the specific ways I’m addressing here, I am usually near-equal measures furious at both offending parties: the close friend who is disregarding me, as well as the person they are disregarding me in favor of. On a surface level, it seems more “reasonable” to be mad at the former; after all, if they are direct stakeholders of the friendship, they are the ones I should be holding responsible, right? (It’s like, when your boyfriend cheats on you, you confront your boyfriend instead of the cheatee because he’s the one you were in a relationship with and so he’s the one obliged to answer to your anger. I think. Don’t hold me to that statement until I’m sure, though.) However, my reason for including the latter as targets of my anger is that I believe nobody whom my intelligent friends choose to engage with is stupid enough not to realize they are interrupting something or causing someone else pain, while they are doing it. They cannot possibly be (and are not) so blind and obtuse—especially when I express my emotions so explicitly, so borderline violently, that the dumbest idiot couldn’t mistake my meaning. I am often petty to both parties with the intentions of making them aware how hurt I am and getting them to feel hurt enough to at least attempt, with genuine efforts and not just words, to remedy the situation. Almost always, I want this effort and repentance to come from both parties.

So why did I say, two paragraphs above, that my learning from disappointment has caused me to choose silence? It’s because the disappointing thing that I have learnt is that the pettiness, ultimately, does not work. Certainly, it works on one level: getting the offending parties to become aware of my displeasure and pain. But civil discourse accomplishes that task equally well—although without the deliberate sting I like to pack into the former. Where both approaches have constantly failed me, however, is in getting the offending parties to care enough to do something about the situation. This, in fact, makes my pain even worse.

If my pain were entirely internalized, at least I would have the flimsy excuse of, “They’re just not doing anything about it because I haven’t said anything and so they don’t know I’m in pain.” (Even though this would be a lie, it might be a comforting one.) But when I do express myself, and they hear me, and they understand me, and they still do nothing, then I know it’s because they don’t care. And you cannot simply “petty” someone into caring about you. You just cannot hurt someone into loving you. People will devote most of their attention to the people most important to them. Sometimes, no matter how much I love them, I’m just not on the receiving end of that special attention and there really isn’t a damn thing I can do about it. C’est la vie.

So, in case you’ve been toying with the idea of trying to hurt someone you love into loving you, just know that Akotz the Spider Kid does not recommend.

-Akotowaa

2 thoughts on “On Hurting People into Loving You

  1. Oh boy, can I relate to this!
    The first paragraph alone is something I would write in my journal. The end goal for me was always to get the ‘villain’ to acknowledge how badly I’ve been hurt or made to feel, share in that hurt and possibly make sufficient reparations to prove my significance in his/her life. The civil discourse route is hard as hell because it can only be achieved when both parties are ready and willing to practice emotional intelligence but nonetheless highly recommended. Being petty seems like justice and so much easier, but it only ALWAYS makes things so much worse and I end up paying a very steep price mentally and emotionally to accomplish it.
    As I’ve gotten older and wiser, I’ve learned the power and great importance of honest communication, self-expression and compassion and anyone who refuses to get on the same page with me as far as that goes should not be in my life.

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