Indifference and identity

I may or may not suffer/have suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder. I may or may not suffer from Bipolar Disorder. I sometimes suffer from Depression, and have had one suicide attempt, and one suicide plan, in my life. That plan remains a source of comfort, a “back door exit”, in the back of my mind even at my happiest. I suffer from Social Anxiety, which I have learnt to identify as the greatest trigger behind the above possible conditions, and as such, by playing around with it and adapting my life to making it happen as little as possible, I have been leading a fairly calm life, compared to my old standards.
Why do I feel the need for this summary?
Because I need to state that for most of my qualities, thoughts and core beliefs, I have no idea what they really are. I will feel very strongly about something one day, and then very strongly about its opposite the next day, or even half an hour later, depending on who I’ve been reading or who I’ve been talking to.
In most subjects, I tend to agree with whoever makes their case better. That is one aspect that is quite unnerving for me, about me.
I am not stupid, I was never stupid.
When I was between 7 and 10 and I was left alone in a big flat by myself for most of the time, I read everything my parents had in the house. A few stood out: I read the whole of the Bible when I was 8 but not much older, as well as this wonderful book, El Gaucho Martรญn Fierro. It was a leather-bound copy, with the Gaucho on the cover sitting on his horse. An incredible book.
I understood these books. I remember having a rare occasion when I had my two friends over and trying very hard to make them like it: I read it out loud to them, and explained the poetry. I remember the way they looked at each other and asked me to just watch TV and I insisted “No, wait, just give it a chance, you’ll see how wonderful this is!” and they looked at each other again and just left, of common accord.. even though they didn’t know each other before.

I felt heartbroken. Not only had I failed in sharing something I felt was so beautiful with my two best friends (my only friends, asides from a little girl with Down syndrome who lived downstairs, but she wouldn’t have understood that book). But now, because I tried to share that and was perhaps a little too intense about it, I was left alone. I should have just put the book down and watched TV with them instead.
Instead, I was alone, and at the time, as I was little, and I had no parents or siblings or anybody who would talk to me and explain: “You know, these things you like, they’re great! But most kids don’t like them, so just enjoy doing other things with your friends”, I would sit and commiserate myself for a bit, then carry on playing alone. The few occasions I did seem them again, individually, I would just let myself play silly games with them, and it was so much fun and it was wonderful. I always felt a little sorry, however, that there was nobody to share my beautiful discoveries with.
Growing up all over the world, I was always ignorant of habits and customs and a lot of stuff that a lot of people take for granted. What is polite conversation, what isn’t. What it’s ok to say out loud, what isn’t.
I had cause to once more remember our driver, G. (his name escapes me, for the first time. I am really losing my memory :(). We were sat on the little hill in my garden, in Arequipa, Peru. We sat together in silence and watched the silent and steady munching of grass of my brown Llama, Bibo. I was 10, and he was just an adult to me. Looking back now, he was a young man. He was my favourite type of Peruvian, those who still have Indio features, like the Incas, rather than those who have Euro-Spanish features.
He just sat there, and I next to him, and I felt these waves of sadness engulf us. We were both silent. It was not unpleasant at all. It felt gentle, somehow warm, comforting, but it was very, very deep sadness. Grief. I may not remember his name right now but I still remember that feeling as though I could recreate it now. So I asked him, after a while: “G, why are you always dressed in black?”.
He responded without taking his eyes off Bibo, without attempting to dismiss it all with a smile and a shrug, without pretence.
“My wife died, a few years ago. I still miss her”.
“Oh”
That was all. Life went on as normal. We sat some more in silence and sadness then it was time to get up and get stuff done. I saw him smile and be efficient and just be himself. But he always wore black, till the day I left that country. He was unashamed to show his grief, unashamed to say why it was there. You might think it was because I was a child, but he wore black, you see. His statement was clear, even to the adults. He was Real.

I started this post explaining that there are many things I don’t know where I stand about. But there are some things where I do.
The one religion I have, the one steady presence in my life, is compassion. Those who suffer will always have precedence in my life to those who don’t. I felt I agreed with Jesus quite a bit on that one. And don’t get me wrong, I am made up when someone is happy! It makes me happy that people are happy, when they’re happy! But I don’t believe in the pursuit of happiness to the detriment of others. And even if you do no evil, you are still detrimental to others when you choose not to care. When you choose to not feel compassion.
Recently, very recently, I have learnt that I need to turn that same compassion to myself. That I have a right to it too. I am still learning, the process is hard because I grew up with such a desperate need for affection, that if you weren’t actively abusing me I would be grateful for just accepting me in your presence and making me feel loved (although often, that was not the case). And if you did abuse me, it would take me years to identify it, and in many cases, even to accept it. It’s a work in progress. But I am starting to see that if you feel it’s ok to make me suffer just because I am inconveniently real for you, if you feel it’s ok for people to suffer just because they’re inconveniently human, dirty, unable to masquerade their issues or feelings for your benefit, then you’re not ok. In my book, you’re not ok.
I do not advocate everyone stopping whatever they’re doing and all becoming charity or social carers or fighters for the rights of others (though some do! They are heroes), take homeless people home with them, and so on. Of course every person has a right to get on in their own lives, they can’t all be human rights lawyers and fair legislators (hurray for them, more heroes!).
But the indifference. The indifference is what seems normal in these western societies I have come to experience, and I believe that indifference is the one quality I am becoming increasingly intolerant to. You can be as successful, well off and happy as you want. THAT I won’t begrudge you. But being indifferent, and non-compassionate of others, I think I have found the one thing about me that never budges, never changes. If you are indifferent to the plight of others, then I will judge you, and find you failing.
That is the one right I claim for myself.

Edit: Gerardo! His name was Gerardo ๐Ÿ˜€

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14 thoughts on “Indifference and identity

  1. […] I had someone come around on behalf of our landlady to evaluate the house. We walked around and I noticed he wanted me to stick by him rather than let him get on with his thing. I told him how in Italy all the wood and sturdiness of the house would add to its value (it turned out I was wrong, but whatever) and he said, nah, not in England. After a while he asked, so where are you from? I had come to dread that question because England has changed, it is no longer the happy open place it used to be, intolerance towards foreigners has grown to include Europeans (not that it was fair before, but before I could defend Non-Europeans, now I need English people to defend me!). Here, however, everyone has been very nice about us being Italians so I said “We’re from Italy“. He asked me which part, as he had gotten married – by chance (?) – in the beautiful Lake Garda area. We moved to another room, he looked around, then he said: “So, ever think of going back?” A while ago this question would have been no problem and asked innocently. Recently, however, some English people (a lot, actually) think that us Europeans suck the benefits off them (we don’t qualify for them) and somehow manage to live here being fed for free, not buying any food, not paying any taxes, buying clothes only from Italy and not spending a penny that helps the economy in this place, so I have started to dread that question too (yes anxiety sucks), but being a truthful person I said “No. Italians have become a majority of people I don’t like, the politics have been crap for years, I have no interest in going back, and anyway I grew up in New Zealand so I guess the mentality here is closer to my own than the Italian one.” So we spent a little bit where he told me about his sister living in New Zealand for two years. Then he suddenly switched to the problem in this country is we let every dick and tom get in, we are so open and welcoming…. My horror as I realised he was going to tell me he was pissed off at the refugees coming through from the European borders. I say horror because you see, as I am emotionally faulty, I tend to automatically want to please whoever is speaking to me and I will automatically nod along with whatever trash is coming out of your mouth… even when I disagree with it. Unless it touches something deep in my core. […]

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  2. I always feel like I identify more with the borderline personality symptoms than the bipolar ones, but who knows. Maybe I’m some new thing to be named. Outside influences are responsible for 90% of my mood shifts, with very little happening without provocation (whether justified or not.) which, the shrink says, is a personality disorder. I don’t know anymore. I don’t really know, I’m not sure, yet I’m taking the little poisons to make myself feel no better AND physically ill. It all sucks.

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    1. Well I’m not taking the poisons yet, but I’m very curious to see what the docs say. I am starting to think that my BPD symptoms have also saved me from a lot of Bipolar trouble: snapping back into someone else, someone sensible, when feeling awful, for example. I want a full diagnosis and then I might just pay around with it, as long as my brain can handle it. We’ll see ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. It’s so hard to repeatedly see how the kindest people seem to always suffer the most. Thank you so much for sharing. This post made me feel a little less lonely in this strange world of ours where having a die-hard opinion (how silly! as if everything isn’t continually oscillating right along with one’s self-ordained identity!) translates into a confident personality and vulnerability gets trampled on.

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    1. This is what makes my day. If even one person can identify and feel a little less lonely then I am happy. Yes the world is mostly made up of people with steady-fast, one-track opinions. It really is a mystery to me, how you can be so single minded about anything x

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  4. Beautifully written. I too live by the religion of compassion. As I live in the States, it’s so much MORE than indifference. It’s also entitlement without the work, throwing others under the bus to get what you want. Greed. It’s greed, and I loathe it. I worked in long term health care facilities for 15 years, caring for the ailing and elderly. I loved it-but you get burn out so easy as we are understaffed and under paid. Anyway, I have seen those dumped in homes and left to rot and die alone, and I have seen families in at all hours of the day and night and we all became family.
    When you spoke of indifference, it REALLY hit home about my husband. That’s exactly how he is-WHO he is. He is indifferent to others and only cares about himself, and blames everyone for his misery. It’s a sad and pitiful existence for him.
    I loved reading about your driver in Peru. There aren’t many genuine people in the world anymore. He was/is one of them.
    You are working hard to find balance in your life, and I commend you for that ๐Ÿ™‚ You’ll get there, Dear Friend

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