At what point do you bypass all societal guilt and simply act to protect yourself from crazies?
Here is what I mean. In the last few years, I've been getting SCHOOLED in dealing with people with mental disorders. It must be a lesson I have to learn, something karmic that I need to understand. Whatever the reason, it's happened over and over, and the only thing I really understand about it is that I can't handle crazy people. Shunning them is an act of self-preservation. And yet, when I read the news and see the horrible things that crazy people do, I can't help but wonder: should I be trying to help them more? At the expense of my own mental health?
Here is the answer I keep coming back to: NO.
Years ago, I embarked on a meditation experiment based on Lovingkindness Meditation. There is a book by Sharon Salzberg if you'd like to check it out. Basically, it uses 4 phrases for you to wish yourself and others well:
May I be free from danger
May I have physical happiness
May I have mental happiness
May I have ease of well-being
Substitute "I" for "you" or "we" as time progresses. First, focus on yourself, wishing yourself these things. Then, focus on a friend. Then, a stranger. Finally, a "challenging person." When you have covered all the bases, the question posed is, if you were in a situation where someone's life would be lost, who would you choose? Would you sacrifice yourself or choose another? The answer is that each life is equal after the exercise, and it's impossible to choose.
So... crazies. I had one last year who wanted to relay to me all the adventures she'd had stalking a guy who was possibly mildly interested in her, at the expense of her estranged husband and confused young children, over a number of states. Somehow, a decade ago, she'd taken on the responsibility of being a wife and mother without really committing to it, and now she was feeling like she'd missed something big and envied my single, never-married life (Snort! Scoff! I told her from the start that she had a house full of people who loved her, and I didn't have anything like that. It pales in comparison to being able to finish a book in a timely manner, which she seemed to want a whole lot).
One day, I interrupted one of her soliloquies (So I saw him in traffic, and he wasn't where he said he was supposed to be, so I followed him, and it looked like he went to so-and-so's house, which I didn't like and why didn't he tell me? Then later, at 9:53, he posted a comment on Facebook to his OLD GIRLFRIEND some flirty thing about whatever, and I was like WHOA, man, what are you doing? What about our relationship?) I was starting to suspect that their "relationship" was mostly a figment of her imagination supplemented by stalking (did I mention she's quit her job and moved several states over to "date"this guy?) So I said, "Stop, stop, stop, I can't listen to this anymore. I just can't do it. I don't have the energy to listen to this. I need to take care of myself."
Later on, she did something that I can only describe as "throw my sister under the bus." That was when I bowed out entirely, and said I needed a break from hearing from her. (Honestly, when I get to that point, I am done with someone since I'm such a champion grudge-holder, but I didn't want to sound so final.)
Last night, my "sister" asked me if I am in touch at all with the person described above. I told her no.
We hear all the time that people who walk into a room with a weapon like a knife or a gun and murder a bunch of school children are insane and socially isolated. And I must admit that I am responsible for isolating some people who've come in to my life and tried to latch on to me.
I remember something Wayne Dyer wrote: that people at the same level of consciousness tend to migrate toward each other and befriend each other. Sometimes you have to bid farewell to certain friends/people whose energy pulls you down to move forward in life.
I once looked at the tableau of people blowing up my cell phone, who were spouting things to me like: "Pay attention to me! I need your attention! Listen to my drama! Let me talk you out of having any goals in life so I won't feel inadequate! Let me bring you down with my crappy attitude! Let me try to turn you against someone else we know by harping on all of his/her terrible qualities! And if you don't let me do any and all of these things, you are a bad person! Shame on you! My drama and I need attention and YOU are a bad friend if you don't want to pay attention!"
It occurred to me that Wayne Dyer doesn't hang out with people hooked on prescription drugs who wallow in their depression and make their friends feel bad about trying to improve their lives. Wayne Dyer doesn't hang out with mentally unhealthy people who are in denial and refuse to have their illnesses treated. Wayne Dyer and most ex-Catholics understand what low-level weapons guilt and shame can be.
I've had to let several people go, with well wishes. I wonder what they are doing now, although I don't want to check in on them! I suspect one is in a house full of junk and garbage, getting old before her time, suspicious of everyone around her, and afraid to get treatment for her mental illness. Another is taking medicine for her physical symptoms but may not ever get treatment for her mental problems. Another one, a man, has a good government job now and probably can't get fired from it, so no matter how much he forgets to bathe, brush his teeth and comb his hair, he'll be able to put on airs that he's some sort of masters-level intellectual indefinitely. Another man, who's 36 years old now, will be a dependent for his sister or his mother for the rest of their lives, and who knows where he'll live or what he'll do or if he'll have any more violent outbursts. Since he's been arrested, the legal system is keeping track of him, so perhaps that will force his hand when it comes to diagnosis and treatment.
I don't know what the solution to all the crazies out there is, but I've gotta say: I know I can't fix them!
I hope this note finds you well. Have a great week!