If I try hard enough, I think I can remember a time in my life when I got along with everyone. Nope, that’s not quite right. There’s always been someone, some crazy SOB that’s prevented this from happening. Let me re-phrase.
If I try hard enough, I think I can remember a time in my life when I thought I could get along with everyone and I thought everyone I wanted and hoped would like me – actually liked me − more or less. (Yeah, that’s better – more accurate than my first attempt at writing this.)
Boy was I naïve! Anyway, those innocent days have vanished, along with my youthful looks and trim figure. (BTW, I’m having quite the chuckle right now just thinking about it all and you can join in with me if you want!)
What I’ve discovered, and I think my former therapist Ellen might agree, is that I somehow inadvertently tend to get tangled up now and again with crazy people doing bullshit, insane things.
Lunatics seemingly come to me from out of the blue − no prior warning − and say and do things that are disturbing and, of course, highly upsetting. (This used to upset me to no end – but I’ve recently put time limits on that.) I’m making progress! Anyway, once I get past the initial WTF-just-happened?!!! shock, I tend to then drive myself crazy trying to figure out what part I played in the entangled madness with this lunatic. Did I set myself up somehow? How could everything have gone so wrong without my being aware of it until it was too late? How did I not know this person was crazy? Was this somehow my fault?
All depending on the situation, the answer usually is: it all depends. Yes, there are times when I’m to blame or no one’s at fault — but too many times, someone else is just bat-shit-crazy.
The point is: in my life there’s been much too much of this bad kind of cockamamie chaos. And because of all the foolishness and the stress that this chaos brings, I’ve devoted a good deal of my life to studying and trying to somehow control, if not other people and their stupidity, then my all-encompassing mind explosion — trying to make sense out of what the other person said and did and how I might have been able to control what happened − as if I could ever do that! Now that’s real crazy − diagnosable, delusions of grandeur crazy! Because I don’t have that kind of power and it can’t be done! But just because I know this, doesn’t mean my mind doesn’t go through all of its internal tantrums and questioning and delusions before getting to a point where I can put the matter to rest. Processing is exhausting. And time consuming. I’m tired of living on the lunatic fringe.
The fact remains: regardless of why crazy people and craziness happens, I often find myself unwittingly involved in uncomfortable, usually unfair, and always upsetting situations. Over and over again. Each new situation may involve different people or different circumstances, but deep down underneath it all, it’s the same ol’, same ol’.
This past week has been no exception. I’ve been dealing with another ridiculous instructor, who for whatever reason, has gone out of her way to try and engage me in her chaotic, crazy world. Her classroom is the realm of “I’m-the-Queen-Bee-here-and-it-doesn’t-matter-if-what-I-say-and-do-doesn’t-make-any-sense, I’m calling the shots, peasant, so kneel down and kiss my boots or off-with-your-head! I didn’t like how you kissed my boots so off with your head, anyway! WEE!”
Anyway, I’ve been her student and the Queen has written what I can only describe as a nasty, insulting email to me making absurd and untrue accusations. I’ve dealt with a lot of sonofabitch instructors over these past several years, but I’ve never been accused of the lies this woman has suggested. I guess there’s a first time for everything.
Anyway, in my attempt to feel better and try and figure out how any of this happened, what part I played in the situation, etc., ad nauseum, I’ve talked with several people I know and trust about my newest crisis. What this woman said and did to me equals a major situational event in my life that I have no choice but to deal with in some way, shape or form − whether I want to or not. What she did requires a response, some action on my part.
Anyway, my trusted advisors were unanimous − this instructor was way out of line − and yeah − crazy! They’ve recommended that my best course of action is: — get as far the hell away from her as I possibly can. Pronto! So, that’s one option I’ve considered among others such as: ignoring the bitch and keep right on going to her class as if what she said and did hadn’t even happened (if for no other reason than to spite her), while also not giving her the satisfaction of knowing how upset she made me; turn her into the dean (as if that would even matter. I doubt I’d be the first student to complain about this woman. Matter of fact, now that I think about it, one day in class, the Queen was going on and on about a former student who turned her into the dean. She gloated about how she triumphed − take away message — she’s tight with the dean, so don’t even try!); write the instructor a nasty letter (which would probably get me kicked out of school); and/or drop her class (the get-the-hell-away-from-her part.)
So, here’s what I ended up doing. Because it was too late to go to the school the day I received the email, I wrote her a long, logical letter (which my readers would find dull, boring and tedious and I won’t be sharing) that explained in detail how, where and why this Queen’s an idiot, a godawful instructor and a mean and nasty human being who had no right to say and do what she did.
The next day, of course, I went to the school and dropped her class, but, I also asked if the dean was around. I told the clerk helping me that I’d like to have an informal chat about the professor whose class I was dropping. Unfortunately, the dean wasn’t around, but I was told that I can get in touch with him this upcoming week if I want.
Then I took my son out to celebrate! Ding, dong, the Queen witch is dead (metaphorically speaking) or at least out of my life!
The point is, even after doing all of the above, what she did keeps popping back into my head. It’s annoying and I’m tired of dealing with this. I don’t want to think about this stupid bitch instructor or what she did anymore. I know that what she accused me of is false. God knows this as well. At this point, I could give a rat’s ass what this idiot thinks. I also know that I’m right in this situation – 100 percent right – but, so what?
I’ve been second-guessing my decision to speak with the dean. By involving the dean, am I not just perpetuating her chaos? Ditto for responding to her in writing and actually sending her a letter? Also, I’d like to finish my education without getting a reputation among the staff or my peers as a complainer. Besides, I don’t want to give even the whiff of gravitas to her laughable email. What’s the saying, “I’m not even going to dignify that with a response”? I think that’s appropriate in this case.
So, here’s what I’ve been thinking about to help get me through this trying moment:
Mother Teresa’s Prayer
(taken from http://www.geocities.com/laferempatti45/MotherTheresasPrayer.html)
People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered − forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives − be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies − succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you − be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight − build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous − be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow − do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough − give the world the best you’ve got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
from The Rules for Being Human (by Cherie Carter-Scott)
- A lesson is repeated until it is learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. Then you can go on to the next lesson.
Something Professor Kennison told our class when he was asked − as a counselor, how do you deal with crazy or mean or vindictive people or people who have committed abominable acts? How do you not go crazy, or get enmeshed or fall apart? How are you able to work with despicable people who do despicable things – people you don’t even like but are still your clients? How do you keep their craziness from becoming a problem for you?
I wish I’d written Dr. Kennison’s words down verbatim, but this is basically what he said:
“I look at the person before me as someone who is having problems. We all have problems. It doesn’t matter what the problem is, this person is a person and he or she deserves compassion and encouragement. We all do. That is what I focus on and then it doesn’t become a problem for me to work with anyone. But this is how I was brought up, so that’s always been my perspective. Also, I document everything very carefully.”
So with all of the above swirling around in my head, I knew I needed to get into a different frame of reference/state of mind in order to move on. I decided that Dr. Kennison was right and I needed to look at this situation and this instructor differently. It would be good practice for when I eventually do have clients. Besides, why should dealing with a professor be any different than dealing with a client in counseling when they’re both engaging in ridiculous behavior? We’re all just people who have problems. Right?
So, instead of sending the Queen a letter picking on all of her faults and telling her where and why she is wrong about oh-so-many-things, I thought: What if I were to write the instructor a letter I could actually send to her? I wanted to do the following:
- Acknowledge her reaching out to me.
- Provide compassion versus anger, nitpicking, etc.
- Provide encouragement.
- Let her know how I resolved the issue.
This is what I wrote:
After receiving your email, I felt I should respond. I want you to know that I hope you get better − because if you do get better then perhaps you’ll feel better − and if you feel better, then perhaps you’ll gain a different perspective and different approach and become a happier person − which will not only benefit you − but will also benefit those who are around you and who you teach – which will connect you with your true purpose − and then you’ll be able to make a glorious difference – which will make the world a much better place for your having been here. But the first step is just to get better − so I hope you get better. This will be my ongoing prayer for you.
Also, in light of the tone of your email, I hope that it makes you a little happier to know that I’m withdrawing from your class. I know that makes me happier.
Respectfully and kindly yours,
I haven’t sent this to her yet but I read this to David. His take was that my now former instructor might think I was being facetious and take offense to it, given the fact that I’d dropped her class. I told him that I could see how she might think that. I suppose the letter could also come across as condescending if one wanted to look at it that way. But my hope would be that it came across as caring and encouraging and genuine, which is the way I intended it. (Trust me, it took a lot of reading Mother Theresa’s Prayer over and over to get to this point!)
So, I suppose my message to the Queen is open to interpretation, but sometimes those are the best kind of messages. I’m all for giving people a chance to think about things. It might even give them a read on their own perspective − depending on how they interpret it. I have no idea how the Queen will interpret my letter to her. Either way, I like it so much that I’m modifying it and calling it:
Get Better, A Prayer
I want you to know that I hope you get better − because if you get better − then perhaps you’ll feel better − and if you feel better − then perhaps you’ll gain a different perspective and a different approach and become a happier, healthier person − which will not only benefit you − but will also benefit others – which will connect you with your true purpose − and then you’ll be able to make a glorious difference – which will make the world a much better place for your having been here.
But the first step is − just to get better. So I hope you get better. This will be my ongoing prayer for you.
I have a feeling I need to memorize this just so I can get past the lesson I, presumably, need to learn or master regarding crazy people and/or craziness that I’ve been struggling with nigh on 50 years. I still haven’t made up my mind whether to send this to the Queen or not, but I feel much better. So, maybe I won’t send it. Maybe it will become a prayer for myself and I can pray for her as well and she doesn’t even have to know about it! And maybe that also means I’m “getting better,” too! I think this prayer can apply to many different people in many different situations on many different levels. I certainly don’t exclude myself! 🙂
Wish me luck, Wayward Friends, and pray for me. I need lots of both!
Also, if it’s not too much trouble or too personal, I hope you’ll share an SOS (same ol’ situation) that keeps reoccurring in your life that you feel is a lesson that you’re supposed to learn and master. I look forward to hearing from you!
Until next time, Sparkle On, Y’all! And for those of you who need this, remember:
Illegitimi non carborundum!
Which is Latin for “Don’t let the bastards get you down!”