How much should a person tolerate?

My observation is that we live in a society that encourages ignorance and abuse. We see it on television and in tabloids, it’s okay to use words to hurt people. It’s okay to inflict one’s will or values on another, this is entertainment. It’s okay when it happens to someone else. The mentality is that it’s okay if I do it to you, you know, if I think it’s funny, or, as judge and jury, I think that you deserve it. Consider cyber-bullying and gossip and how hurtful those words can be, what negative consequences they can have. And for what, what purpose does it serve? For the magazine industry it sells, and for those reality tv series, it gets ratings. On a grander scale, the entertainment industry sends the message that this is normal behaviour, it gives the impression that rudeness, distortion of facts or fabricating facts is okay. What a sad indicator of where we are as a society. How far we have fallen in our humanity.

In the real world there’s a reason why there is a criminal charge when you threaten someone, just like it is criminal when you hit or push someone. Uttering threats is against the law. Assault is against the law. Slander, libel, they are all pursuable. It may be that one is angry or frustrated, but that doesn’t give him or her the right to cross that line. There are extenuating circumstances always, perhaps mental health issues – when an individual doesn’t have the same filters as you or I – but even then, it’s not okay, it doesn’t make it right. It’s not entertainment anymore, it’s real life and real people, and potentially a real problem.

I think about cases of domestic abuse, how many times the victim rationalizes that it is a one-off, that the perpetrator won’t do it again. The pattern often persists, though, and they do it over and over again. In your dealings with other people on a day-to-day basis where do you draw the line about what type of behaviour is acceptable and what isn’t? It depends on what matters to you. It depends on your own sense of self-worth and self-respect.

For me, I have very distinct thresholds, I am also very clear when one has been crossed. Once has always been enough. Cross that line just once and you are done in my world. It may not matter to that person anyway, but it matters to me. The people I surround myself with are a reflection of who I am, and what I value. So for those who cross my ‘values’ line, no inner circle anymore.  If future interaction is necessary, a brief and distant courtesy is it, whatever it takes to achieve the necessary objective. There are too many good people out there to suffer one who isn’t.

Emotional Neglect and the Little Dog

There is no doubt that I struggle through each day, I know it, but I think that outwardly I am improving.  I don’t cry nearly as much, I work hard at trying to be more social, to not run the other way when I see someone I know approaching me.  It’s not easy, but it won’t ever be easy.  That I am still pretty self-absorbed came back to me in a very real way today.  I have two cats and a dog.  I haven’t been the best company for them.  I make sure they are fed and have fresh water and that they get outside for fresh air and bathroom breaks.  That’s about it.  Although pets are supposed to be comforting at times like these, that hasn’t been my experience.  I find that my little dog, when I pet her, seems needier than ever.  The cats couldn’t care less when I come or go, but then again they never have.

Today after work I came home to let the dog out and make sure that there was food and water, and then went to my daughter’s for dinner.  I returned to a rather unhappy little dog.  She made it very obvious that I have been neglecting her.  She had found my pajamas and dragged them into the middle of my closet where she peed on them.  Quite a strong statement from a usually very well behaved dog.   Oh, she was guilty, beyond a doubt – she slunk away and hid under a table.  Yup, I was angry with her for sure.  We definitely had words.  I definitely did laundry.

This episode serves to remind me that I am not the only living thing that had my structure and routine ripped away.  It won’t change anything for me emotionally in the grieving process, but it does make me think about the implications of my actions.  I suspect that the dog’s behaviour is a reflection of my emotional neglect.  I know I need routine and so does she.