As Pete Campbell once said, "I refuse to feel bad." What an awesome thing to say! I love Pete Campbell! However, I guess he kind of should have felt bad, right, in that specific situation. Right? I still don't know what we were supposed to think.
The act of refusing to feel bad is very powerful. Especially for me.
I think this is partly the case because I sometimes feel bad about things that other people don't feel bad about, and vice versa. So forcing myself to feel bad because I know that someone else feels bad, combined with a reluctance to express that I feel bad, becomes a way of denying my own experience.
It is also the case that I grew up with someone who, to put it mildly, had a lot of feelings. By the time I officially decided this wasn't my fault, I was old enough to vote and almost old enough to buy alcohol. Obviously I cry, and sometimes people I love cry and my reaction isn't defensiveness. However, there is a certain type of angry crying which I've now come to see as a weapon, and when someone starts angry-crying at me, it makes me want to disengage as fast as I can from what is going on.
This is very mixed up in politics with me because I think a lot of opposition to disability rights/anti-ableism is expressed in the form of angry crying, or something that looks pretty similar. "Shut up! Disability is so horrible! It doesn't matter if you're disabled and I'm not, you should listen to me because I'm crying!" (Sorry to be such a bitch, but admit it: you know what I mean.)
Refusing to feel bad can go hand in hand with trying to feel good. An example of this is meeting someone with a quote unquote "significant" disability and actually getting to know them and see how they feel about things. Getting to know someone is a lot of fun and I would absolutely recommend it every time over reading a parent or professional's negative description of what a disability is like. Even in cases where the person is in tremendous pain, their life will still be more complicated than "this disability is bad and you should feel bad."
The problem though is that it's not that easy for me to say, "Well, I don't feel bad about disability (mine or someone else's), and if someone else thinks I should, then fuck them," because, you know, some people who think I should are people in my quote unquote real life, like family members and friends. And since I've started refusing to feel bad (a condition which developed between the ages of twenty and twenty-one-and-a-half, more or less), I have made people angry-cry by telling them that I think they're being offensive and that they're hurting my feelings (often about disability stuff, but sometimes about other stuff).
At this point, I sort of start to get bogged down, because I know that writing this blog is kind of a special interest. Even though some stuff that I write here is about my and other people's experiences, in a straightforward way, lots of other posts just consist of me poring over pop culture or really tiny inconsistencies in language and identity preferences and blah blah blah. And I haven't always been into this stuff.
So I mean--should I be able to separate the part of me that wants to say these things from the part of me that is close with those people? It's weird because I haven't always wanted to say these things, or felt able to say them, and also because if I have a history with someone that involves fuckups on both our parts (more mine, for sure, with some of the people in question) it's not a situation where I can just be like "oh they suck, they're just refusing to acknowledge their privilege. This is boring, I give up." They don't suck--they're a real person.
Maybe I suck.
Maybe I'm just being an asshole and this is just like getting in a fight with someone and making them cry because they don't like a TV show that I really like. Is it like that? I don't think it is. At the same time, when it comes down to it I often don't refuse to feel bad. I often feel really bad. But intellectually, I still don't think I was wrong, but I feel like I would be a bad person if I didn't pretend to think I was wrong so the other person wouldn't be upset anymore.
And so on and such forth.