It is estimated that elephants kill 500 people annually due to dwindling resources for them to feed. As humans invade their space and disrupt their social structure, elephants become more aggressive and start attacking as a defense mechanism. Humans respond by killing the elephants and the cycle is perpetuated until the elephants just no longer exist.
Except when they are brought to me.
No, not real elephants – metaphorical elephants that are really people’s problems. These elephants seems to land in my space until they either hurt me or I deal with the owner. And while they are in my space, I have to remind myself to not take ownership (or implied ownership) of said elephant. I cannot feed the elephant. It is not my job to name the elephant. It is their elephant, not mine.
But when that elephant starts sucking the life out of me – like a bad sort of vampire elephant – I have to try to get the owner to remove said elephant. And that can be tricky.
Especially when said owner doesn’t want the elephant or can’t hear or see beyond the elephant.
I am dealing with this sort of elephant issue right now. And, this was one of the few times I actually said “enough! I can no longer take your elephant – please remove it” only to be met with a “huh, I can’t hear you…..anyway…..”
For the past four days, I have been dealing with someone’s elephant for about 8 hrs a day. I have tried changing the subject. I have tried ignoring. I have tried being direct. And each time, the elephant continues to attack. I don’t blame the animal. I blame the person behind it for not having control or awareness of what her elephant is not only doing to me but to herself.
Life does shitty things to people. While some are consequences to decisions, not all are punishments. Sometimes what happens just is what it is. And stepping back, you realize that no matter how much you try to put it into ta comfy box with full explanation of why and what-for, you can’t do it. It just simply is what it is. You can cry, scream at the sky, demand answers, or be angry at the world – but it will not change what it is – one of those shitty things.
But when that process becomes all consuming. When over time, it gets worse and not better. When over time, it makes you feel less worthy as a person. Or makes you feel shamed. Or makes me feel like you must have been bad to deserve it. It is time to seek professional help. The person has just switched from healthy, natural processing to unhealthy processing.
And that is what has occurred with a friend. Her thinking has become toxic to herself. And even though I assure her I am not like others trying to just make her get over it. Even though I assure her that it is complex and is not easy, but it has approached a point of needing professional help – she can’t hear that. She hears the negatives of her own head or what others have said out of frustration. It’s almost like a little kid pressing their hands over their ears saying “la-la-la – I can’t hear you!”
And when projection of her fears onto me started happening. When projecting what others were saying onto me started happening. When listening to my words stopped happening – I said enough. I was blunt, I was direct, I was kind and caring, but I was done. And I had to be plain in my communication to her.
Her response: then walk away from me then.
I backed my response up with information. Examples from the resource she likes to wave around in front of me and others as evidence that I’m not making shit up here. I know it is hard, but I also know this is not healthy thinking for what she is dealing with. I know – been there, done that – helped another close to me through it.
She ignored all of it – and sent a response that clearly showed she did not read what I wrote.
I am emotionally and mentally exhausted. On a day when G and I were supposed to be all lovey dovey, he spent more time giving me post-elephant-attack aftercare and support than anything else. Despite my efforts of setting boundaries and limits with her, she ignored and violated them. Continually throughout my night. Even when anyone in their right mind would have realized I was with my husband on Valentine’s Day.
And while years ago, I would have felt I was a horrible person for walking away – for putting up some solid barriers – I now look at it as it went too far and too long. Should have done it sooner. Her issues and processing hits a bit too close to home for me as she processes something I have three close people in my life who have processed themselves. Hearing her take on the situation, and trying to remember she is only speaking for herself despite the way she phrases it, has just added to the mental toll for me.
I don’t blame her elephant. Just like in the elephant attacks, you can’t truly blame the elephants for the fact they have no place to go. That they have no food – and they are chased into smaller and smaller spaces until they can only lash out to try to make something change. You have to blame the humans who refuse to deal with the elephants appropriately.
What I have come to realize is that metaphorical elephants are the same way if their owners do not take care of them. So all I can do is give the owner a chance to deal with the elephant starting to smash up my life. And when they do – boot the owner.
And try not to get killed by the elephant beforehand.