Justification and guilt

July 8, 2023

I remember in school when they would always ask us to justify our answers. Coupled with the fact I always felt I was going to be misunderstood, if not straight up accused of lying by my interlocutor, it most likely didn't help me with constant self-justification. I wish I could simply speak without having to go on and on about why I think that way. It's like no one will take you seriously if you don't explain in detail how you came to your conclusion. Given that since my earliest childhood I long to be taken seriously and listened to, this adds salt to the wound.

People say "you don't have to justify yourself" (I'm thinking of my mother), yet nothing feels valid until I've laid out context, or somehow justified myself. Those words are entirely meaningless. Say one thing and expect another. I'm tired. If you don't provide context, people will assume you're hiding a part of the story. Or they'll assume you pulled your opinion out of your ass. At worst they'll call you ignorant or straight up refuse to believe you. Perhaps I've just met assholes, but that's what my experience taught me: unless you go on and on about the hows and whys, no one is going to listen to you. It's not like you're worth listening to anyway: you're too little, you don't know what you're talking about, you shouldn't get involved in adult conversations. That's what I would hear as a kid.

Yet how the hell do I not join adult conversations? Sometimes there was just straight up no kid my age at these people's home. Often I would spend time with the family pet. My peers were good to play with, but they didn't share my passions. An intelligent conversation was near impossible with most of them. They were good for play. That was it. But I needed more than that. I wanted to be grown-up, so people would listen to me, and so I could have actually stimulating conversations. I still feel that gap at age 23. The people around me aren't all stupid, but I just feel the gap with most of them. The jokes and references fall short, the interests are vastly different, and even if they're nice, in the end it's just kind of empty unless I offer emotional support, which I'm good at doing.

I'm not "too little" anymore. I don't "talk about what I don't know" anymore. But the wounds are here. They never really closed up. The emotional invalidation stayed. I'm constantly second-guessing myself and my perceptions. I may have been gaslit way more than I think in my early life, even if not in a malicious way, and I just realize how much I flip-flop. I'm never quite sure of what I perceive, even more so when it's about other people and how they treat me. I want sometimes to acknowledge that I've been frankly treated poorly, but I can't help but blame myself immediately after. It sure has to have been my fault if someone acted badly to me. Even if it turns out we were triggering certain mechanisms in each other, some worse than others. No, it has to be my fault.

I decided, not sure exactly how and why, in childhood, that anything has to be my fault. I don't remember clearly what caused it. All I know is, I decided that I should bear the cross for everyone else. It pained me too much to see others as guilty. Well, turns out, in adulthood I'm just the same. Even when I haven't always been treated well. I just focus on the ways I have poorly acted, even if the reason was, if not something one should condone, at least understandable when taking my past experiences and traumas into account. That makes me a fine target for gaslighting and I'll say it again, I may have actually been gaslit far more than I realize. For someone to turn on themselves that way, there must've been a good amount of supposed "misperceptions" that really were a way to get away with being a dick. But then it leads to the fear that I'm blaming everyone else for things that I, only I, am the cause of. It never ends. It always circles back to self-blame and devaluing my own perceptions.

I should dedicate a future article to gaslighting and the lack of trust in my own self-perception. I'll leave this here. I already strayed too far from what I originally intended, and I dislike it when my mind goes off on a tangent instead of keeping to the task at hand, even for the sake of explaining. If it strays too far, it may get lost. I don't want things to get lost.