I’m starting to notice that every word in life is subject to personal interpretation. It’s not something I didn’t know before, it’s just something I’m thinking about in depth more so now. Some words are just socially constructed concepts and whilst the dictionary can give us a standard definition of what they “should” mean, they are definitely subjective.
Here’s one: Loyalty.
I’m not going to check the dictionary because I have my own definition of it. To me, loyalty is showing someone, not just telling them, that you’ve got their back (metaphorically). That you both have each other’s best interests at heart. There’s mutual respect and trust.
Loyalty is fluid, it’s not a solid concept at all. The older I get the more I see it’s based on needs and wants. The older I get the more I observe people being loyal to get their needs and wants fulfilled and once that ends so does the loyalty.
Who is 100% loyal? To anything or anyone? Not me. I mean, I love the concept, and I’m definitely not a cheater! I guess my all/nothing thinking affects my view on this – you’re either loyal or you’re not. Because I haven’t been 100% loyal 100% of the time I can’t consider myself “loyal” anymore.
Now that I am starting to understand my Aspieness and my emotional underdevelopment I’m really starting to see how that has affected my “loyalty” in the past. I’m definitely an all or nothing person. You’re loyal to me – or you’re not. Once doubt of your loyalty creeps in; whether through visual or verbal evidence then my trust in you, and your “loyalty”, erodes to nothing pretty quickly.
And now I’ve seen what happens when someone has been disloyal to me and I’ve been disloyal in return. I did it to burn a bridge between myself and this person. The problem is that I’m not a malicious vindictive person by nature. Whilst I threw petrol all over that bridge I didn’t realise how much petrol I’d also gotten on myself and the other person – I burnt that bridge and both of us with it.
I gave someone who had a vested interest information that I knew would be used against this person. Whilst the information was real, it wasn’t my information to pass along. And that’s the problem with reacting whilst your emotional state is in a state – it’s impulsive not rational, there’s no thought of future consequences. In that moment you don’t expect that that bridge might be something you want to repair one day. That’s the thing with burning bridges too – you can’t rebuild with ash.
So in this case, I essentially transferred my loyalty to the “enemy” out of hurt. She validated me every step of the way too, although friendship with her was not a desired or intended result that I was after, I guess she could see that it would be like rubbing salt into the wound of the other. That’s what truly great manipulators can do; they’ll feed you whatever you want to hear, they’ll offer you false comfort, false understanding and false acceptance. They’ll make you feel better and good about your disloyalty to the other. Your betrayal is celebrated by them; you’re congratulated on seeing the “truth” that they see. But sooner or later you’ll see the damage you’ve done to the other.
I don’t know about you, but once I care about or love someone, I don’t just stop. It doesn’t matter how much they hurt me. And to see the scars of the burn you inflicted on them is devastating. It’s proof that you’re evil. That you would sink so low as to hurt someone who hurt you. And it’s even worse when you realise that, whilst the other person is by no means a saint, you’re now loyal to the devil herself.
You know those devils? The wolves in sheep’s clothing? The ones who patronise you and infantilise you. The greedy ones who know you’re a valuable weapon in their war. The ones who build you up and scold you when you question them. The ones who have everyone believe they’re a victim, who create an image of victimisation at others’ expense, whilst being a perpetrator all along.
I remember being about 12 or 13, and a friend told me a few horrible things she thought about a mutual friend of ours who I was pretty close to. I told my friend what had been said by this other friend, because, well, I’d want to know if someone wasn’t being real with me. The next day they were huddled together and both angry with me! One I wasn’t really surprised about because I’d shared her opinion, but the other being angry at me? I still can’t make sense of that. But I do get it’s human nature to want to be liked, and some people will use whatever tactics they have including using you to get ahead. If they can’t be top dog, then they’ll get as close to it as they can. They’ll manipulate a situation until every pawn is right where they want them placed.
I have the intellect to study these interactions but put me in the middle of them and I am lost. It’s different as an adult compared to being a kid too – there are real world consequences. Aren’t you supposed to protect and be protected by the ones who claim to care about you? How do people be “revengeful” with no remorse? Actually, I don’t want to know, I don’t want to understand that because I never want to do something like that again. Even if the other person did the wrong thing first, two wrongs don’t make a right, and I’d rather feel guilt and regret than satisfaction in hurting someone back. That’s not me.
I’ve metaphorically bought materials to build a new bridge between myself and the other person, but I can only build half and they have to meet me half way building the loyalty bridge from their side too. It’s a slow process and I’m trying not to get too invested in it. We’ve both hurt each other, unfortunately I did the most damage. I’ve fixed what I could, there’ll come a point when I can do no more.
And that devil woman? She’s the troll under the bridge, with teeth bared, waiting for us to fail. She doesn’t take kindly to people who see through her charade after all the work she put in to creating it. And maybe we will fail. There’s actually a pretty good chance that we will fail realistically.
But I have learnt a lesson here. Eyes OPEN. Mouth SHUT.