I never used to be someone who would block others out of my life. Whether it be over social media or some kind of in person shunning, I wasn’t quite capable of writing someone off. There was always room for someone to redeem themselves or to apologize. Now, I see blocking very differently.
My therapist says (I know, this sentence could have started in a much more original fashion) that much of my suffering, beyond OCD and PTSD, is caused by a set of assumptions that I have about people, as a baseline.
- People are trying to be good.
- People are rational.
When this set of circumstances doesn’t add up, because of course they don’t (people can be malicious and think irrationally, naturally) I become overwhelmingly upset. It confuses and devastates me. Scrupulosity OCD is one of the greater OCD challenges I face, and while I don’t hold others to that ill standard, I do become emotionally itchy, so to speak, when others violate those two conditions. It isn’t right, it isn’t fair, it makes no sense, why did that happen? I ask myself those questions, make those statements, over and over. It leads to a lot of unnecessary internal suffering.
What it also does it it leads to me giving people second chances when I shouldn’t and putting up with behavior I never should have put up with.
With a recent ex of mine, there were probably two hands worth of instances where I should have cut the relationship off. I should have when he claimed to have the worst case of a medical condition in the country, but truthfully, the moment I saw the hole he’d punched in his wall should have been the first red flag, and a disqualifying one. Despite all of the red flags I saw, I never pushed him out until I learned some incriminating things about him. Even then, it was viscerally agonizing to snip him off, and until recently, I never completely did.
In my old therapeutic school, I was a part of several friendships that I shouldn’t have been. I was being played for a martyr and a fool, and was hurt immensely over time and at the explosive endings of friendships. I believe myself to be reasonably intelligent, so I easily could have spotted red flags in these friendships. I can do this in my friends’ relationships quite easily; I’m nearly always prepared to tell a friend when they’re making an interpersonal mistake. I can’t do the same for myself.
That’s something that I’m working on. Part of my work is allowing myself to block people. I went on a blocking spree just the other day. I’m getting requests to follow back, but I’m not taking people up on them. It feels amazing to shed people who don’t serve a positive, healthy purpose in my life. It’s a feeling I’d always anticipated going very differently.
Previously, I’d thought for long hours about how it would feel to be blocked, to be totally shut out. I’d experienced this heavily in my immediate family, and I never wanted to be someone who did that to another person. Of course, it’s happened to me several times, such is life. It brings me back to childhood when it happens, and the feeling is of visceral, intense frustration and sorrow. I couldn’t envision myself doing it to another living, breathing person.
Then, I did it. And I see why people do it.
I feel free. I’m going through a bit of a rough patch now, in general, but dissociating from people who have no place in my life feels like crystalline watershed. For one reason or another, everyone I’ve blocked no longer has a place in my life. It doesn’t have to be because they’ve done something unforgivable, though that’s happened. It can simply be because they don’t give me a good feeling when I think about them. Maybe I’m uneasy. Maybe they’re untrustworthy. Maybe they were a bit nasty or quipped a bit too viciously. These are all red flags, too.
Any reasoning for blocking is okay, but the most potent one, one that I’m using as my guideline, is if a person harms my emotional state, they’re gone.
I don’t mean if they disagree with me politically. I don’t mean if I don’t know them. I don’t mean if they’re annoying, even. I mean if they’re nasty, toxic, negative, or in any way make me feel bad about my emotional life, a life that is complex and muddy enough as it is.
I’m also sure I’ve been someone who has no longer had a place in others’ lives. That’s okay.
It didn’t used to feel okay. It felt like a familial betrayal, all over again. But everyone has a right to have anyone they want in their lives, for any reason. The reason should, if we’re being considerate, be provided to the person being blocked, but any reason is valid. Our time is limited, and there’s no room to waste being tied to people who cause us harm, for whatever reason.
For myself, the actionable takeaway from this is twofold. First, I must be okay with people blocking me. They have a right to. Second, I must be okay blocking people.
I have a right to.
(And top trying to follow me if I’ve turned down your request or blocked you! I’ve done so for my emotional health.)