Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Okay. I've got a question.... :)

I wasn't planning to post and then it occurred to me that I have a question that would make an interesting table discussion.

Over the past week or so, I've been experiencing a low level irritability. It's not the virulent type that would turn Mother Teresa into a raving b**ch .... but it's definitely burbling under the surface and I'm aware of it.

Typically when I feel that way, I isolate until I get over it.

My isolation was interrupted yesterday by a phone call ~ and I ended up in an argument that probably wouldn't have occurred under other circumstances. Ordinarily, I would have blown it off and perhaps made a few colorful statements under my breath after I was removed from the situation. I might have even used that infamous word that starts with an eff.

My friend and I talked along for twenty minutes or so and it was alright, kind of benign, saying a lot about nothing.

Then she hit my irritability bone. Ouch!

I should preface this here by she has known me for two years.

She said, "Well, are you looking forward to Christmas with your family?"

At first, I just sat there with my mouth hanging open. Then my temper flared.

"Do you ask your gay male friends to bring their girlfriends to a Moral Majority meeting?"


"Well, that's parallel to what you've just asked me."

"How so?"

"Well, number one.. you know I am Thai-identified. That means I don't do Christmas. Number two, you know I don't have family here. And number three, I'm tired of explaining this sh*t to people who obviously don't even bother to listen!"

"Uh. Sh*t. Well, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to offend you."

"I know you weren't trying to offend me. That would have required some recognition that you knew who you were talking to..."

I paused for a minute and finally apologized, explained that I am too irritable to talk and hung up.

I was really pissed. Honestly. Pissed. And hurt.

I am so totally over having to explain this stuff to people.

Is it that hard to understand that some people are different, that we don't all value the same things, that we don't all walk lockstep with popular culture and do everything that pop culture demands?

Rhetorical, obviously.

At the same time, I need to figure out how to cope with this while I'm still here without alienating people and telling them off. That serves no one, least of all me, and it only spreads more wounding words out to the energy pool.

So... suggestions? How would you want to be told? What would be a way that you would have found least offensive?

How would you have answered my friend's question?


Open Grove Claudia said...

IMHO, it sounds like you were feeling unseen or maybe unknown and her random comment was evidence to you that you are not seen, known or maybe cared for.

Nothing is more painful that feeling unknown or unseen except maybe feeling unloved. You get all three with her question. It's understandable that you reacted. I think if I was feeling the same way, I would have reacted the same.

What would help you feel better?

Anonymous said...

I'm not Christian, either. When people ask about my plans, I say something like, "I'm not Christian, but I'm looking forward to spending time with family." You could say the same thing, substituting "friends" for "family."

When someone wishes me a "Merry Christmas!" I respond with "Thank you, Happy Holidays!"

I operate under the assumption that people are inviting me to share in their celebration. That's not such a bad thing, is it?

thailandchani said...

Claudia, that's very true. That is how I felt about it. It was as though she was talking to another person. It's not that I expect everyone to remember every single detail of the things I tell them.. but being Thai-identified is a fairly big thing. You know, most of the people who know me are more than aware of it. It takes real unconsciousness to ask me a question such as the one she did.

What would make me feel better about it, I think, is just a simple recognition of who I am.. and common respect.


Thomas, I agree with you for the most part and can cope reasonably well with the "merry Christmas" stuff and respond similarly to you. In this case, it was a direct question asked of me that bears no relation to who I am. It made me very uncomfortable to have to explain something like that to someone I've known for two years.

In the general sense, yes, I agree with you. In this case, I don't. :)




Anonymous said...

Why are you worried about how to say it so it won't offend someone else when you are the one who got offended? You're an odd bird, Chani.

QT said...

DUH! - that WOULD have annoyed me too - I would have said something along the lines of ~

"Considering I don't do Christmas, and I don't have any family here, I guess my answer to you would be no, I am not looking forward to it."

But that is probably too snarky.

I have a Jewish client that responds with something along the lines of "Yes, I am looking forward to Hanukkah," and of course the other person apologizes profusely.

Laurie said...

I've found that a lot of people don't really listen or take to heart what others are saying. I don't think you have any reason to apologize for handling it the way you did.

PeterAtLarge said...

When my button gets pushed, I find it useful to resist the impulse to wonder what it is about the pusher, and instead to wonder what it is about the pushee--me! When I manage to keep calm enough to take this approach, I sometimes learn something important about myself. The fact that this other person hasn't been listening is a given. Okay. Too bad. But what's really interesting, to me, in a circumstance like this, is that one of my own reactive patterns has been set off, and I'm grateful to be alerted to it (usually, again, for the umpteenth time!) So in an ideal world, I'd sart by telling the offender about myself and my reaction, not about her and what she did to offend me. But then, my world is not usually so ideal. I'd probably just get mad, like you did. Blessings, PaL

thailandchani said...

Anonymous, it's probably because I realize that I can't control anyone's behavior but my own. If I can deflect a negative encounter, I'm willing to do my best.


QT, I don't think it's too snarky at all. That's what I felt like saying, something very similar. I was also tempted to refer to the person as a certain bodily orifice usually associated with waste elimination.


Laurie, thanks. I have a temper and I'm aware of the problem. Occasionally though, I suppose someone does deserve it.

Sometimes I'm not good at drawing the line though. :)


Peter, .. a shenpa. Yes. I know. It's definitely one with me, I guess. I hate being invalidated. If someone disagrees, I don't mind. If someone doesn't like it, I'm okay... but to be simply invalidated like that will nearly always trigger off my temper.

Good points though.. as always. Thank you. :)




marian said...

Chani, no one has the power to invalidate you. And were you feeling valid within yourself, it would not bring up defensiveness if someone forgot about your Thai-identification.

When we accuse others of making us feel a certain way it's always because we are identified with the ego. The ego always feels threatened, vulnerable and defensive. The ego always looks outside the self for validation.

So perhaps you were projecting on your friend what you actually do to yourself — refuse yourself the feelings of validation that come from looking to the formless, instead of the form, for shelter.

thailandchani said...

Marian, of course that is a very good point. I'm sure the Evil Ego is in there.

I should clarify though. I don't feel as though my Thai identity is invalidated. No one can invalidate that. It's a done deal. I'm committed.

But I really, really, really get irritated with American cultural hegemony. It's as though so many think there is no other life worth living ~ and that naturally everyone MUST be following those customs, even when they've been told differently. It's pure arrogance. Is that what 30 years of diversity training has created?

That is the second thing that made me so angry.

The first part, of course, yes.. I felt as though my friend was being completely mindless ~ not acknowledging that my stepping out of that stream was a big part of who I am.

Eventually, perhaps, I will be developed enough (I'm guessing when I get to Thailand this will improve) to be able to step out of form, as you mention.

Right now, I still get sucked in.. far more easily than I should.

Thanks for such a thoughtful reply. :)



meno said...

What Peter at Large said.

I wonder if you lost a friend. I wonder if you shouldn't answer the phone when you are feeling irritable.

liv said...

Maybe the frustration isn't with how you identify yourself and having to explain, but with the disappointment that someone who you thought was your friend overlooked aspects of your life that are significant. Maybe some people don't understand the strong urge/identification with Thai culture that you have, and see a caucasian woman with an affinity for asian culture. You naturally feel more than what they infer. Does that make sense? I can't explain why someone who knows you for 2 years would say something like that. Maybe I would say, "You're kidding, right?" They would say, "What?" I would say, "I think you've been around me long enough to know I don't do the Christmas thing. And that there's no family around. Yeah?" She might agree, and it would give you the opportunity to say something like, "Please don't suggest that I do things that you know are not my custom. It really hurts my feelings."

liv said...

PS--In reading your response to Marian more carefully, I think IMHO, that the anger you have toward the problems with American culture, as you see them could be the most destructive of all.

mitzh said...

What Peter at Large said...
It truly did hit a spot in my heart.

I realize when we are hurting and really vulnerable those are times we hurt others more in ways we never really wanted.

Take care, Chani and I hope all is well, now.

painted maypole said...

I think you could simply ask your friend "Friend... do I celebrate Christmas?" Then they can think about it and go "oh, crap, no. I'm sorry. I'm just so used to asking that question" That way they realize their mistake and why they made it (hopefully), have a chance to apologize, and you remind them of who you are.

Tricia said...

You've gotten some pretty good advice here today!

And here's mine: So you're having a bad day. We all do. We've all said and done stuff we wish we could've done way differently.

The way I see it, the ball's in your friend's court now, because you did apologize and try to offer up an explanation for your behavior. Hopefully she will be able to acknowledge your abnormal emotional state at that time, accept your apology and you guys can move your friendship on to a new level with these lessons learned.

Perhaps drop her an email with a reiteration of your apology to try to get the ball rolling. Hopefully she'll want to reiterate her apology as well.

Karen said...

yep, I'm with dear Maypole there- if you are trying to avoid negative confrontation, injecting humor as a mindfulness exercise is a clever technique and allows you some relief for your very valid feelings of frustration. It may be something worth playing around with - when you feel people are on autopilot with you and you want them to just wake up a bit and talk to the actual you! Because I'm sure she loves you.

Christine said...

well, if she had no idea you were thai identified and had no idea about your family i think it wouldn't have been such a big deal. of course it would require explaining that might be tedious, but it would be new info to her.

but seeing that she knows all this i don't understand why she even asked at all. sounds like maybe she was being passive aggressive.

Amy York said...

It would have hurt me too... I think how I'd have answered your friend's question would have depended on my mood. But I'd have been hurt that she understood me much less than I thought she did... I like some of the other advice here too. Hope you find your way out of your funk soon.
Oh and since I'm relatively new here, and quite spacy at that, do you mind my asking where your family is?

Snoskred said...

I think one thing may have been overlooked here. Hormones. We women have them - and they stay with us for life, messing with us in different ways.

There is usually one week in each month where I am unusually irritable, weepy, and generally feeling fragile. I have been told by my doctor this will become *worse* after menopause. You know when I was a teenager, I looked forward to menopause as a time of peace and tranquility, not interrupted by any nasties once a month and now I am beginning to be scared of it. That week I mention is No Fun but at least I know what to expect. I cry at commercials. I snap at the other half. And nobody better say the wrong thing to me - it might cause tears, or it might cause anger.

My Dad made a comment a couple of weeks ago. I was in a rational enough state of mind to just let it go over my head. Had he said it during the wrong week? I would have been a basket case.

So number one I think you should consider looking at the cause of your irritable-ness. It's hard to figure out what is going on with ones self sometimes.

Number two, I agree with Liv. I think you do have a lot of unresolved anger towards the US. I think it is made worse by watching Fox News - which by the way, can make an Aussie mad at the US, even all the way over here.

Third, I wonder just how much you tell people about your Thai Identified status. Sometimes it seems like pulling teeth to get important information from my friends and family. You may think you have explained it, but if you had I don't think this question would have been asked, no? I mean you don't really think she set out to offend you, right?

I think it can only be one of two things - either she was absent minded and looking for a topic of discussion, or she doesn't have a clear understanding of what the whole Thai Identified means.

Finally, reading back over the comments.. and I'm asking this without the intention to offend anyone but it may seem offensive to ask it, so I apologise in advance..

Is it any wonder people are all pulling away from each other in real life, when people can be so easily offended by simple questions about how they are going to celebrate their holidays and they feel like they need to take that opportunity to slap others in the face with their religion or the fact that they don't celebrate holidays or any other thing they may have taken offense at?

Sheesh, it sometimes seems like it is not even safe to talk about the weather anymore. Aren't we allowed to ask simple questions of each other anymore?

I like Thomas's reply of how to deal with it. We can answer these questions and seasons greetings without offending anyone and without turning it into a half hour lecture about religion or why you don't celebrate Christmas.

Me personally I can't STAND Christmas. I hate it. This is because my family does not really celebrate it. Last year we did not even have a tree. But I'm not going to jump all over someone who does celebrate it, nor am I going to be all bah humbug. I'm going to say happy holidays - and I sincerely wish that for them.


thailandchani said...

Snos, you ask a good question.. so I'm going to go ahead and answer it and then come back to the other comments in a while.

Your question about how and what to say to others is postworthy, rather than just a comment, but at least I can give it a kickstart.

I think it is important to respect other people's customs, particularly if you know them. My general policy when discussing sensitive issues is "never assume anything." We live in a diverse world.. with all different kinds of people.. and I do believe saying "Merry Christmas" to everyone is just as rude as my saying "Happy Genericthaiholiday" to everyone. When we know someone, I think we have an obligation to honor them. Part of honoring them is to not say things that are inappropriate.

As I said to her, I would never invite a gay male friend to a Moral Majority meeting and tell him to bring his girlfriend. It's just plain disrespectful and, all told, judgmental.

It is hard, I know.. because it means we have to remember other individuals' personal characteristics.. and we have to respect them. It would be much easier if we were all alike and didn't have to do that ~ but that's just not how the world is.

Personally, I think "happy holidays" is sufficient and it is what I use with others unless I know them personally and can address their personal customs with "Happy Chanukah" or "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Groundhog Day".

That is just how I choose to relate to others. This isn't about political correctness. It's about respecting other people.

As for the woman I talked with yesterday, she has known me for two years. While I don't bash anyone over the head with my Thai identification, it would be rather difficult to miss if you know me personally. She does know quite a bit about my family situation and knows we are estranged.

It was sheer stupidity on her part. Sheer, thoughtless stupidity.I had a right to be angry. What I don't have the right to do is attempt to wound her in return.

I'm willing to let it go, certainly. I won't destroy a friendship over it.. but she will know that I expect her to respect my way of life as much as I am willing to respect hers.

I choose to respect other people's identities as they state they are.. not what I think they should be.

Hope that scratches the surface anyway. :)


Anonymous said...

Being completely honest, I would have been irritated too. And since I don't ask people if they are looking forward to Christmas, I have no idea what would have driven home the point while still being pleasant. Maybe you could say, you would look forward to it if you celebrated it.

Good luck with this. I find that if you go around wishing christians happy unmarried sex day, they greet it as unappealingly as you do to christmas well wishers. Yet they don't ever seem to get the parallel.

Mary G said...

Oh, I know about that low level irritabiliy -- I get offended at stuff that I would normally laugh off. As to what I would have said, if not irritable I would have used a humourous deflect (Hey, this is me you're talking to -- what's with the Christmas thing?). If I had the black dog on my back, I would have said the same thing, but sarcastically and made my friend feel like a worm.

You, or anyone, has a right to anger and to feeling offended. Only, that anger and offence are a waste of precious time and energy.

Chani, I love what you do with this site, I really do. I wish I could get here oftener but it takes about ten minutes to load on my balky system, and my computer freezes meanwhile. You have some super commenters, too. I love what Snoskred said.

I hope you have now got back to your normal state.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Well, I'm pretty sure the fact that I laughed out loud at your rejoinder about gay men disqualifies me to offer an opinion.

But that never stops me.

It's clear that your friend has either not been paying attention to anything you've told her about yourself so she would know you better, OR didn't take it seriously, which is probably worse.

I think I would have simply stated that I don't celebrate Christmas since she didn't absorb that fact the first time, and changed the subject.

But if I really didn't like her much anyway, I might have reacted like a sticker bush, too. That is well within my behavioral range, even though I wish it were not.

flutter said...

I don't really think you owe anyone an explanation

Amanda said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
thailandchani said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Snoskred said...

Chani said -

While I don't bash anyone over the head with my Thai identification, it would be rather difficult to miss if you know me personally.

Can I just ask for some clarification on this point?

Have you sat her down and explained to her that you don't feel at home in the US, that you want to move to Thailand, about the precepts, about everything? Have you actually had that conversation about it? Or is it more - not in so many words, type of thing?


thailandchani said...

Snos.. oh yes.. we have definitely had that conversation. Not to the extent that it is discussed on this blog.. but she knows all about Thailand.. and my disaffection here. She knows I will be moving there soon.



Snoskred said...

If she's got less information than we've got here on the blog, I'm not surprised that she asked the question.

If I can be completely honest with you Chani, I sometimes feel like you haven't had that full conversation with us here. You've explained quite a bit about it but I still wouldn't feel comfortable assuming that I know everything about it. I would not have known that Christmas was something I shouldn't discuss with you. I'm thinking I'm not the only one here. And I was reading your blog over last Christmas, too. You may have mentioned it back then, but ten months have passed and a lot has happened since then.

Everyone makes mistakes and we're all human.

The bottom line is, being offended by things is a choice we get to make. We can choose to be offended, or not. I choose not. Even when I know someone was deliberately setting out to offend me - let alone when the butcher says Merry Christmas or someone in a shop says happy holidays.

Life is far too short for getting offended, in my opinion. ;)


Liz said...

I'd like to think that I'd tell her that I'm feeling sort of cranky and that I am not in the mood for the conversation, because I 1)don't celebrate Christmas and 2) am not super close with my family. But, I don't know how all that'd come out in the moment.

Snoskred said...

I was in the middle of having my hair dyed when I wrote that last comment - and I had to rinse. While I was doing that I thought - some people could look at that last comment I wrote and think I was being a bit hypocritical given that I have not spoken to my sister in oh, almost a year now.

I'm not offended with her. I'm not angry with her. I don't know if I'm anything with her other than sick of seeing her manipulate people into doing what she wants, and sick of seeing her act like a royal beeyotch. So I made a choice not to contact her. She's clearly made a choice not to contact me also.

She doesn't need me, she has a plenty big enough entourage of admirers as it is - she doesn't need someone who speaks to her conscience and tells her what she's doing is inappropriate, bad for the kids, and just plain not good parenting.

And to be frank, I don't need her. I would like to see my nephews more often, but it seems like I have to buddy up to her in order to do that, and I just don't have the patience. Plus there are issues with her custody arrangement - as in the kids can't be away from home for more than 3 days without her telling her ex where they are, and he doesn't like me and would try to stop it. It's not worth getting into a court battle over that. I just keep in touch with emails and photos.


Pam said...

Sometimes people don't always hear what we say, and sometimes they just don't remember what we say. Sometimes this is because they're too self-involved and other times it's just because they are preoccupied. I always try to give my friends my full attention but have to admit to the occasional failure. I doubt if I would've been angry but definitely disappointed and would have refreshed her memory.

Emily said...

FIrst, I guess I've been gone for a few days, because I missed a lot of posts.

Second, I think with friends you need to weigh things. If this friend is valuable to you in lots of ways, then the best thing to do is try to subtly remind her of your life situation. No one is perfect and perhaps she was distracted for a moment.

On the other hand, if the friend is often insensitive, you are wasting your breath getting angry. You might do better to spend less time talking to her.

And, isn't it a bit early to be talking about Christmas?

Blog Antagonist said...

Well, as you know, I can identify with your irritation in regard to this kind of presumption. I don't know if this kind of ethno/theo centricism is a uniquely American thing, but I suspect that it is. But...maybe I am just hyper sensitive to it given the fact that I am an agnostic/atheist (undecided) living in the Bible belt. Can you say "Fish out of water"? I imagine you can identify with that feeling as well.

Mary said...

Maybe I would have responded with, "Duh...do you know who you are talking to? You called Chani. It's me you are talking to. No Jingle Bells or Family here, moron."

But, if I were irritable, I probably would have layed into her, too :o)

crazymumma said...

Oh Chani. I don't know, it really would have depended on my mood. I LIKE to think I may have been patient and explained things YET AGAIN.

But, I may have become impatients as well.

Matt said...

You really intrigue me sometimes. The last time I got really angry was when my ex-girlfriend forgot to wake me up to catch a bus to Koh Chang. Thing is, we actually made it in time for the bus in the end. I was really tired, and I then got angry with my friend on the bus for no reason.

I think sleep is the key.

thailandchani said...

Snos, while I agree with some of what you say, I also believe it may be applicable in some situations.. and not applicable in others.

I say this as someone who grew up without boundaries and honestly believed that setting any limits on the behavior of others was inappropriate. Consequently, I became very unhealthy emotionally. Boundaries are important. Knowing what we will have in our lives and what we won't is important.

Examples of a more general nature: Would you allow someone to engage in racist speech and not confront it? Would you allow someone to comment about your weight or personal appearance without comment? Would you allow someone to diminish the person you are ~ or a friend ~ without comment?

I hope not. You, me, every commenter here and every person (period) deserves a degree of respect. Part of that is not being diminished or lessened by those who surround us.

Regarding your later comment, no, this doesn't make you sound like a hypocrite at all. It makes you sound human.

There are certain aspects of my Thai identification that I do not discuss here. There are some reasons for that. One of them is trying to respect the culture that surrounds me now for those who do like it. I don't want it to turn into a "My culture is better than yours" playground competition.. so I just keep my mouth shut.


Reflecting, your comment just cracked me up! "Happy Unmarried Sex Day"? Love it! LOL


MaryG, if I'd been in the right frame of mind, your solution is of course the best one. You know, rather than turning it into a major philosophical comparison with all variables accounted for...

Thanks for your comment about the site. If you read this in Google Reader, which is far less intense script-wise, you'll be able to read it.

And, yes, I do have awesome commenters. Couldn't agree more. :)


Susan, as I've said here before, I do unfortunately have a temper. I wish that wasn't so.. but we all have to cope with some character flaw or another. It would have been better if I hadn't been so prickly.. but it really hit me wrong and I snapped. :)


Flutter, not over and over. That's for sure! I don't mind explaining once.. but when it gets repetitive, I get irritated. It's not that complicated, after all.

It's not the theory of relativity.. it's just a culture thing. There are hundreds of cultures in this world.. of which mine is just one.. We all have to live together somehow.


Liz, ordinarily I could have deflected it. Monday was just a bad day for me to have to laboriously explain, yet one more time, something so fundamental that it seemed irritating.


Pam, the committee meets to determine the status of your canonization this afternoon at 4.00. :) Honestly though.. I wish I was that patient about things.


Emily, I think it is too soon to discuss Christmas any time before December 25. :)

As for the rest.. yes... I get you.


BA, I agree with you. I think it is a rather American phenomenon.. you know, the assumption that everyone is pretty much the same, that we all value the same things, etc. Like.. how many people realize this weekend is Canada's Thanksgiving?

Not many, I'm sure.

Yes, I do identify with "fish out of water". I think that's what makes me a bit testy sometimes. It really is draining.


Mary... I like your "No jingle bells here, Moron!" LOL




thailandchani said...

Meno, I don't think I lost a friend.. but there's a possibility that it may be something that will distance us. Not sure yet.


Liv, I totally agree that your approach is the more sane one. It's difficult for me to imagine that anyone doesn't understand what I've done.. and how I've done it. In some respects, it's evident (to those who know me personally) because they see my life, how I live it.. what surrounds me and so on.

But, yes, you do make sense.

As for the anger about American culture.. yes.. it is there. The only way to describe the feeling is that it is similar to the one many white people experience when another white person assumes that making racist remarks is okay. You know what I mean.. I'm sure. The subtle "if it wasn't for them (pick group of choice), everything would be okay." Since we share a skin color, there is an assumption that we share values or outlooks.

That's about as close as I can come when it comes to describing how it feels on an internal level.

As for other aspects, yes, I am angry about it. I've traveled enough to see the damage it's done all over the world.

In those times when I do let it consume me, yes, it is destructive.


PM, yes.. that is a good approach, too. :)


Tricia, naturally I hope that we'll both come out of this with increased understanding of each other. I will definitely initiate the conversation about it, if that's what it takes. I don't much like standoffs. :)


Karen, thank you. I agree that humor can often be a good deflector. If she'd caught me at another time... perhaps it would have worked out that way.

Since I am basically a cultural "convert", I have to be careful, too, about what I say to others.


Christine, in this case.. I don't think she was being deliberate at all. I think it was, as someone said, a comment made on auto-pilot.

That doesn't make it any better.. but if I thought it had been deliberate, I probably would have been a bit harsher... because that goes into another realm altogether.


Amy, yes.. it is always insulting and hurtful to have someone not remember something so significant as this is for me.

My family and I are estranged. We had a brief coming together when my father passed in April.. but it has gone back to the status quo.

I'm not overly sensitive about it.. but the assumption that I have warm, fuzzy family holidays or events can be a bit annoying. Explaining something so personal is hard enough.. without it being forgotten which requires me to explain again.

I have some horror stories around this one.. and at my age, they simply shouldn't be. Many people my age have no relationship with relatives because most of them are dead.


Mitzh, yes.. it's okay now. Thank you. :)


CM, timing is everything, I think. Given the content of the remainder of our conversation, she probably didn't know I was feeling irritable , either. I was hiding it pretty well.


Matt, sleep, courtesy and respect. The world would be a much better place with all of those things in place. :)




Snoskred said...

These examples are a lot different to the actual incident you're talking about, though. I'll still answer them -

Would you allow someone to engage in racist speech and not confront it?

It depends on the situation. If it's going to get me into a fight with someone much bigger than me, if things could get physical, then there's no way I would speak. My personal safety is much more important than trying to change someones mind re racism. If I somehow found myself at a KKK rally, it would be insane to try to confront their racist speech there. I'd get killed or badly beaten, at the very least.

If it was someone I considered a friend, I'd never do it on the spot. I'd take them aside at a later time and confront the issue as peacefully and calmly as possible.

Would you allow someone to comment about your weight or personal appearance without comment?

People do that all day long to everyone, Chani. They do it with how they look at you, with how they speak to you, with how they treat you. If you're a good looking person you have a much easier life than someone not good looking. If you're a stick thin person you have a much easier life than someone not stick thin.

Why fight those small, unimportant, tiny battles about my appearance to others when I can get on with my own life?

I grew up as the fat girl in school. I got those comments constantly. There comes a time when you simply stop fighting it because you see how pointless it is. There's no way to fix people being inconsiderate to larger people. The problem is so widespread, they won't let mothers who breastfeed on facebook but they have a huge amount of fat hate groups. I could yell my lungs out all day long for the rest of my life and it would change absolutely nothing. It would be a waste of my time, and every day I am here I am reminded of how little time we all have here.

People saying those kinds of comments - it is more about them than about me or my weight, and I really could care less what they think or say.

I just let it go over my head.

Would you allow someone to diminish the person you are ~ or a friend ~ without comment?

Nobody can do that to me - I never give anyone that kind of power anymore. I used to, sure. I went through years of pain getting all upset about things people said to me. Just last week someone said something intended to wound me deeply - and it did not even touch me. Not a scratch. People can say hurtful things till the cows come home - sticks and stones may break my bones, you know?

I just think these days we are all very quick to take offense with things. There's inconsiderate people all over the world - it is everywhere, like a sickness. If we got angry over every bit of it, we'd kill ourselves with stress in a very short time, I think.

I can't control how others act. I can only control how I react to their actions. I have to hold myself accountable and take responsibility for my own stuff, not for anyone else's stuff. I learnt that over and over with the other half's ex-wife. If I got angry about every perceived slight, I'd spend my life angry. I don't want to do that anymore. I did do it, for a number of years. I want to enjoy my life, and I want to be peaceful and calm. I don't want to hold grudges or hang onto anger. I've held enough grudges. I've held onto enough anger. I've managed to let it all go.

I realise I am very lucky to be at this happy place at such a young age, too. I think it is partly thanks to waking up and smelling the coffee re anger and how much it can damage me as a person, and partly due to an excellent psychologist. ;) And partly due to fighting these useless battles for so long. I got to a point where I saw its only hurting myself.

You can set limits easily without having to be offended or upset by peoples actions, Chani. You don't have to take it on board. You simply say to yourself no - this is unacceptable to me and you walk away from that person, you walk away from where it is happening. You move on.

Sometimes you might say to the person - because you value them and want to keep them as a friend - that what they did is unacceptable and if they keep it up you can't be around them anymore. I've had to do that, too.

Oddly, I will stick up for others, if necessary. Pure loyalty. If someone attacked you or any of my blogging friends, I'd be there ready to fight back. I don't feel the need to do it for myself though.


Tabba said...

I'm with Liv on this.....

And all of my responses if someone asked me something like this would just ooze with snarkiness.

thailandchani said...

Snos, in some senses, I can't disagree with you. I try to choose my battles carefully.. but some things really matter and I will try to have a rational, pleasant conversation about the topic, one that will bring greater understanding to both (all) of us on those issues.

Note ~ this is not *all* time. I am far from perfect and sometimes I just get angry and blow!

In the ideal world, I'd always do it perfectly and the outcome would always be positive .. but this isn't the ideal world and I'm very, very human.

In the general sense though, as I said, I agree with a lot of what you've said.

As for the weight thing and personal appearance, I often "consider the source" when someone makes those kinds of statements, too, but I will say something if someone says something along the lines of "all fat people ____" or "all tall people ___"

Sometimes it's something as simple as "please don't talk that way around me. I find it upsetting."

I'm hardly a confrontation junkie and will generally do anything I can to avoid it. At the same time, there are just some things that really matter to me.



Ian Lidster said...

I would be inclined to keep it simple and just let it go. There is never an excuse for ignorance, but it abounds, regardless. I think the more telling point is that she hasn't bothered to aprise herself as to 'who' you are, and 'what' you believe or don't believe in.
I'm not an admirer of the corruption of Christmas, and frankly detest the entire season, so doff my hat to you for eschewing it.
Far better you stick to your philosophical guns, than to do some sort of cop-out to accommodate somebody else. That would be the same sort of thing as Jewish people mounting a Chanukah Bush so that the kids can feel they have a Christmas tree.

jen said...

it's hard when our fuse is already short and someone pushes us to the edge. but i also think it's crazy, for anyone who knows you to ask those questions as if they don't really know you at all.

i mean, i know you far less well than your friend, and know implicitly that you'd not go to your family for Xmas.

thailandchani said...

Ian, I feel fundamentally the same way... and I've never been able to pretend I value something I do not. You know, on the simple things.. yes... I'll not make an issue of it but if it's something important, it's too important to stand by it.


Jen, exactly. That is why I got so bent out of shape. I'm sure it wasn't intentional.. and the purpose wasn't to make me angry but, jeez! Some things are just patently obvious.




Snoskred said...

Just one last thing on this topic, Chani. ;)

The quote I heard from the UK Royal Family is one that I am determined to live by these days.

"In a crisis, do nothing"

I have made so many mistakes in my life, but the biggest mistake I have made over and over again is reacting to things on the spot. In the moment, you can't assess things properly. If someone says hurtful things to me, my first urge is to say hurtful things back. That urge has not gone away. I still *want* to do it. These days I make myself stop.

I am hopeful that some of the discussion we've had in this comment thread has been useful. If you take nothing else away from it, might I suggest you take that quote. I have it on my computer to remind me. ;)


amanda said...

So? You delete the comments that go against what you believe? Kinda funny!

thailandchani said...

Amanda, see the comments policy on my sidebar. It has nothing to do with disagreement. It has to do with the *way* you disagree.


blooming desertpea said...

I'm a bit irrated with some of what other commenters said about you "overreacting".

I'm sorry for anyone who feels offended now but Chani, you're not overreacting, it's exactly how you said it - a friend knowing for 2 years asking a question like that - in my eyes it is disrespect. I think you can expect a friend to remember important things about your person or what kind of friend would she be if she didn't? That would be my question regarding this woman. Is she really the friend you thought she was?

I get the same angriness when Americans wish me a happy 4th of July when they know exactly that I am neither American nor do I live in the US - in my view, this show narrow mindedness and disrespect for anything that is not American.

Bottom line, I think it's up to her to apologise to you not the other way round.

enigma4ever said...

I am sorry a friend did not remember or recogize who and what you are ....and what matters to you...on another level she atleast did ask about your feelings, and that is a rarity these days...I think that depending on the day it hit you wrong though- hit a nerve, and in that became painful because I think you were puzzled that she did remember WHO and WHAT matters to you- and that left you hurt....frayed nerves aside, I think that living here can be painful and often people are not sensitive enough , mindful...it is a cultural difference....don't be hard on your self, and I guess with holidays coming just pick a strategy to get YOU through..something that you can use as your stock answer for your own peace of mind...kind of like one wears a coat in cold wearther- something to wear and protect, yet comfort you....many hugs friend...namaste.