Posts Tagged ‘self-esteem’

4,000 Words on Elliot Rodger – Much Ado About Nothing

I keep reading so many perspectives on this whole Elliot Rodger perspective. Who he was. What was wrong with him. How the tragedy could have been prevented. Because isn’t that what we always search for? Someone or something to blame so we can somehow move on after a tragedy. Somehow feeling safe or like life isn’t totally out of our control. I’m a control freak, I get that. But in these cases, I have no control. Society has no control. And people aren’t one-dimensional. We are a product of our past, a product of our minds and a product of everything around us and our perspective.

I Rodger’s manifesto this weekend before there was much written about him. I read it in an attempt to build my own impression of the guy. I watch who he became unfold and evolve as he “grew up” in his “story.” I realize his story is his own. Ten of us could have the exact same night, and our perspectives of the night and our stories would all be different. We would talk about things that are important to us, and from our perspectives. We might leave out details that are important to us, or integral to understanding who we are.

All that said, there are so many things going in in this guy’s head. Some things I feel sorry for the hand he was dealt. Social anxiety and Asperger’s. Not an easy way to make lots of friends. Other times I wanted to shake him and scream, “LIFE ISN’T FAIR!” or, “JUST BECAUSE YOU CHECK ITEMS ON A LIST DOESN’T MAKE YOU ENTITLED!” He commonly thought if he did certain things, he should get certain things. Part of that might be a manifestation of Asperger’s. And an inability to connect with people. If you can’t connect with someone, it’s hard to 1. Be empathetic or see their perspective and more importantly 2. See there’s more to a relationship than looks and material things. I do feel bad that his brain works this way, and that his parents didn’t or couldn’t correct some of his entitled thinking. But I also think we’re all creating our own destiny. If you want to meet someone, you have to put yourself out there. If you want to be successful, you have to take risks. If you want to be smart, you have to be willing to work to learn, and accept that failure’s part of it. Life isn’t easy. Growing up is hard. And being an adult is a lot different than we think it’s going to be when we’re kids.

We don’t just get what we want because we want it, even if we did when we were kids. In life, there are winners and losers in EVERYTHING, even if we never won or lost at a sport or in a contest as kids. We aren’t entitled to love or affection. And if you aren’t willing to give and risk, you won’t find or receive love, especially romantic love. Jealousy, envy and rage don’t make things you feel are unjust go away. And even if you don’t like something or think it’s “fair,” it doesn’t mean you’re right to want it to be different. We are all good at some things, but not at others. Everyone struggles with stuff, and everyone has things they’re good at. If you think you’re not good at anything, you either haven’t tried enough things, or your self-esteem is really low. The bigger your world gets, the more you’ll realize there are a lot of really smart people. Really good-looking, confident people. Really ambitious people. Really creative people. It’s nearly impossible to be “the best” at any one thing, let alone at everything, like many kids think they are or should be. It’s a lot of work to be successful in anything: love, career, or even personal ambitions.

No one of us is owed a romantic relationship. Some people look their whole lives and never find love. Others don’t look at all, and feel like they deserved more. It’s hard to feel sorry for someone complaining about something he did very little work to attain, but in a world of entitlement, that’s what’s expected. Only a parent can’t setup “play dates” to find a girlfriend or boyfriend. At some point, children need to learn to adapt and survive in the “real world.” And if they don’t have the mental or emotional tools to do that, it’s tough. Parents are expected to encourage independence and self-worth, but sometimes the children are resistant. And they’re left feeling lost and helpless. We’ll never know enough of the full details of Rodger’s childhood and young adulthood to know if his story is an accurate portrayal of his life. My guess is he’s left out a lot of details. Victims always do. He was a victim of his own mind – a theme that runs deep and heavy in society today. We enable victims. We accept excuses. And we encourage blame-placing. Continue reading

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Jodi Arias: Don’t Poke The Crazy

I generally shy away from calling people crazy. I think everyone (men and women, although I joke more about women, I genuinely am just joking) has some crazy in them. And when the right buttons are pushed, the crazy flares up. I think some are more prone to crazy, but generally the crazy comes from things like insecurity and unhappiness and feelings of unfairness. But I’ve seen friends who are generally level-headed have their buttons pushed until they’re about to flip out. And then they’re labeled as unstable. Are they really? No, I don’t think so. I think the situation and the circumstance and definitely the people make them crazy. Or crazier. The human spirit, ego and brain can only take so much stretching before it snaps. Some of us have more flexibility, others have more sense than to put themselves in a situation where you’re tested, and others seem to be better at acknowledging their actions are reeling off the deep end. Then there are the poor few who, despite these warnings, despite changes in behavior, despite having to know they’re being crazy, don’t turn their backs and jump in.

Is it strange today’s the first day I’ve read anything on the Jodi Arias trial? And my only real exposure to the trial is on Twitter, where, admittedly I follow mostly sports guys. Yes, men. Some married, some not. The variety is there, but I’m mainly following guys. So my perspective is, “This broad is cray!”

But this morning I decide to read a few articles on my own. Do I still think Jodi is crazy? Yes. And am I a huge believer in, “Don’t blame the victim?” Absolutely. I hate when people blame the parents of a kidnapped child, or the clothes-choices of a victim of rape, or the actions of a murder victim. But that’s what I found myself doing. And definitely not at first. At first I’m reading the stories thinking, “This girl is crazy! She’s obsessed with this guy after dating for less than six months?!” Then I read more and find out she converted religions for him. What the heck? And that HE baptized her!?! What the hell? And all that happened before they officially started dating.

Then I find out that they broke up and he started dating other women and she became obsessed with him and stalked him. OK, so crazy, right? Nope. Reading a few more stories it sounds like they are one of those couples that breaks up but never really breaks up but never really gets back together. This is one of the most damaging relationships you can be in. I’ve been there. It makes you insane. It makes you feel inadequate. It makes you feel insecure and paranoid. It makes you feel like shit, basically. Why do they want me sort of but not totally? Why will they commit to others, but not to me? Why do they chase and won’t let me go, telling me they need me, but it feels like they’re using me.

The answer is, these guys are being jerks. And girls. There are girls who do this, too. They manipulate their way into the lives (and generally beds) of the girl or guy who’s interested. They make you feel just wanted enough to keep re-trying. They’re vague and non-committal, and then when you think they’re really interested, they pull away and act like you’re imagining things. “I never said I wanted anything.” Even if they blatantly did say they wanted something. For a second. A fleeting second.

As sad as it is, the Sugar Ray lyrics for “When It’s Over” capture this phenomenon. The entire song, really, but the one lyric that catches the most is, “When it’s over, can I still come over? When it’s over, is it really over?” I hate to sound old, but I feel like this problem has spread like STDs over the past ten or so years. I mean, I’m sure it always existed. But before cell phones and Facebook and constant access to chatting, this crap wasn’t as prevalent. But now? I hardly know anyone who breaks up and the breakup is final. There’s too much access to too many people. Mark McGrath was ahead of his time. Weird, right? Back in 2001 I had a cell phone, and I remember texting. But you got charged per text, so it was more of a fun thing to do, than the only way you get in touch with someone. Hell, two years earlier I didn’t even have a cell phone! Or, if I did, it was one of those you only turn on for emergencies. I didn’t have MySpace. I had email, but all you got in email were things like forwards or pen pal type letters. No one searched their own name online, and while there were beepers, the only real way to communicate with someone was in person or over the phone.

A few weeks ago I laughed realizing back in the 90s, when you had a problem with a friend, they commonly showed up on your front porch to talk. Or they’d show up to see if you wanted to go do something. There was no mass-texting. And, honestly, it all sounds so exhausting. But that’s only because we’re so consumed with electronics and having virtual friendships. But the good thing was, there wasn’t a lot of booty calling after bars closed. Did it happen? Sure. But mostly people just went home, or went home with someone new. But it was even more terrifying to call someone who lived with his family, or roommates. These things sort of curbed the obsessive-compulsive tendencies. I get when you break up and you’re not ready to move on, it’s easy to want to go a little stalker to see if the other person is happy when you aren’t. Sadly, I’ve been that girl. But the one thing I was smart enough to do when I was 19 years old was say, “This is it. If we break up, we break up. We aren’t “friends.” We don’t still hang out. We don’t call each other. We don’t play the line between friends and more-than-friends. It has to be over. And you can’t come back. I deserve more. We deserve more.” And he was respectful enough to walk way, for real. Did it hurt? For me, more than I thought it could. And there were times I’d try to put myself somewhere just to see him. And I had friends who encouraged that (probably because I was so sad). But luckily, there weren’t cell phones. And we didn’t ever email each other. So aside from calling his parents’ house (wasn’t going to happen, I was too humiliated), the only way I could see him was to force chance and run into him. And even that was humiliating. I was like a drug addict, wanting just one last hit. But the truth was, if I saw him, I never said a word. And I’d generally run away before I did. And if he had led me on, I never would have moved on.

But that’s what it seems like every couple does now. They break up, but it’s never over. And often times, the one who is hurting more can be manipulated and used. And after awhile, that person tends to snap. “Snap” means a lot of different things to different people. Some people make a spectacle of themselves, getting really drunk and bawling publicly. Others will go to the new person in their ex’s life and try to warn them. Partially in an attempt to “help” the other person, but really just to hurt the ex. Others will post stuff online, true stuff, not-so-true stuff, private stuff, blatant lies. And the progression goes on. And there are times I see girls who have been used and lied to and manipulated and led on for so long, I wouldn’t be surprised if they snapped and tried to beat the crap out of the guy. Or worse, kill him.

And you know what? These guys know what they’re doing, but they think it’s her fault for letting it happen. In those cases, both people are actually victims. The one being lied to and led on is a victim while it’s happening. Then when they react and respond, the tables flip and victimizer becomes the victim.

No one wins in these situations. And in the case of Travis Alexander, he paid the ultimate price. And so did Jodi. She seems delusional, but is this really coming out of nowhere? Travis was allegedly very open discussing that he had a crazy stalker. Why did he keep bringing her into the fold? Why didn’t he move on and allow her to move on? Why did he keep her on the back burner? Or even just off to the side of the stove, warming the pot only when the soup threatened to go bad with food poisoning. Or maybe he didn’t care if the soup went bad as long as he could still warm it up occasionally and keep warm near it.

I hate to trample on the grave of a dead man. But I do think it’s important enough to see how something like this can get out of hand. We, as human beings, need to have more respect for the dignity of others. If you don’t care enough about someone to be with them, then let them go. Allow them to heal and move on. Don’t keep dumping salt and gangrene in the wound. Don’t keep tearing it back open at your leisure, when it’s convenient for you. Realize the person you have no feelings for has feelings for you. Don’t laugh at her expense or dismiss her as nobody. Don’t continue to follow her on MySpace and post on her wall about how she’s making the hotness factor of her new town increase just by being there. Don’t have sex with her and take pictures when she shows up unexpectedly.

Simply close the literal and figurative door on the relationship. The sooner you make the end clear and definite, the sooner everyone can move on with their ego and self-respect intact. And the better off everyone is.