I don’t think recovery from experiences like mine ever really ends. It was only a few weeks ago that I realized the way I’ve felt about the topic of this post for as long as I can remember has its roots in those experiences.
Society tends to be very competitive, even when it comes to pain. This fact lead me to inflict on myself the majority of the damage from my experiences. What actually happened to me in the real world wasn’t that bad; I never had any broken bones or internal injuries from the beatings, the sexual assault did not involve penetration, etc. There are many people out there, probably numbering in the hundreds of thousands at least, who had worse things happen to them than I have and from the very beginning of my experiences I knew that. But it still hurts; the fact that other people had it worse than me does not mean that what happened wasn’t bad. It took me a long time to learn that lesson and I spent the years before I learned it making myself hurt worse because I felt like I didn’t deserve to hurt at all.
There was a lot of guilt. It wasn’t that bad, why does it hurt so much? Why can’t I handle it on my own? I should be over this by now, think of all those people who have it worse; wouldn’t they be mad at me for not letting go? That last one was actually true; I did once have a friend who had had it worse than me berate me for not being able to move on. That was wrong of her because everyone heals at their own pace and her attitude toward my rate of healing was actually part of the problem, but that’s a topic for another day.
Now that I’ve explained the why, I can move on to the real topic of this post. It infuriates me when I see anyone dismissing someone’s pain because someone else has it worse. Most of the time when I see this, the person being dismissed is simply stating the fact that they had some bad experience. As an absurd example, let’s say someone is telling their friends about how they went out to dinner and something they ordered wasn’t cooked properly. Then one of their friends starts yelling at them for flaunting their privilege of being able to afford a meal at a restaurant when their neighbor needs government assistance to buy groceries. The first person isn’t saying their pain is greater than the neighbor’s when they tell the story of the bad meal and the fact that the neighbor can’t afford to eat out doesn’t mean the first person didn’t have a bad meal. The two experiences are not related in anyway other than the fact that they center on food.
But what infuriates me even more is that there are certain groups of people who basically cannot talk about their pain at all because the pain of the group opposite them is seen by the rest of society to be so great that even mentioning their pain will get them the verbal equivalent of a lynch mob. There are even people who go so far as to say that the problems of these groups of people don’t exist at all; like “reverse” racism and misandry. Personally, I don’t like either of those terms (racism is racism no matter who the victim is and the same is true of sexism), but the attitude that the problems that they refer to don’t happen is just bullshit. Of the two problems, I run into misandry more often, so that’s the one I’m going to focus on.
If I am told that I can’t do something because I’m a woman, that hurts me. If one of my male friends is told he can’t do something because he’s a man, that hurts him. Being denied something based on our respective genders may happen to me a thousand times for every one time it happens to my friend, but it hurts each of us the same amount each individual time it happens. If I tell my friend he isn’t allowed to hurt over his one incident of sexism because it’s happened to me a thousand times, that hurts him, it’s another incident of sexism and it at least borders on mental abuse because if he actually believes it he will beat himself up over it the way I did when I thought I wasn’t allowed to hurt. He isn’t hurting me by telling me he knows how I feel after being rejected for a job because the same thing happened to him once and I don’t have the right to act like he is by trying to deny him his pain.
In conclusion, don’t try to deny others their pain, don’t let others deny you yours, and don’t let anyone get away with denying someone theirs. And always,