Am I getting caught in the middle, again?

Unfortunately, I can easily get caught between individuals or groups of people.

Recently, someone told me to, “put on your big boy pants.” While I think she meant well, as a way to encourage me to stand up for myself, it is an odd and rather condescending phrase I don’t hear often. I think it’s akin to “take control of the narrative,” another, less clumsily worded phrase I was told not too long ago. But, what is the purpose behind these strong suggestions?

Is this an attempt by those who care about me to get me out of the middle and back on their side? That would, of course be, the best side, from their perspective. Would it be best for me? I don’t know. Would it be the correct side? The “correct” option is not always the best one and vice versa.

“Caught in the middle” is not a safe or comfortable place, and people can count on putting me there if they need to, for whatever reason. My former boss warned me not to get triangulated, but he didn’t realize – nor did I – that the “seeds” for triangulation had been sown years earlier. It was so with my family as well. My wife has yet to fully figure this out, or maybe she just doesn’t care, either the wisest or most foolish position. I’m thinking more wise all the time.

Currently, I just want to be left alone. Truly, I want people to get along. Sadly, nobody cares to do that or believes it’s possible. Potentially, it’s not possible! And, perhaps, I shouldn’t care either. People will do what they will do.

Apparently, I don’t think like most people, so that may be why I don’t understand them. (Did I mention I’m autistic?) Some want me to seek justice, but that seems like far too much effort with no real end goal. It is not my intention to hurt anyone. It’s not how I think. I have a “growth mindset,” but that confuses people, and they take that as a sign of hostility instead of help. Or, they really don’t want to or see a need to “grow.”

Ironically, it is people trying to help me or others “grow” that has often created problems for me. I inadvertently become a conduit for this growth, but I don’t really know what is happening or why. Therein lies the difficulty. I don’t know, so the proper response, at least based on my negative experiences, is to leave it alone. I need to leave more things alone and just be myself.

The answer lies not in “justice” or “revenge,” but in another way. Some don’t see it or believe it. They are hurt, and nobody probably ever offered it to them before. So, they are skeptical, since I don’t think like they do. I think peace; they think conflict. Chaos is a means of control; that’s why some like to create it.

There are people in my family who have been like that. There are people at my last job (and any job) who like to stir up trouble. It’s a game to them, or maybe it’s just for power. Perhaps they don’t even know what they are doing, or it’s a defense mechanism, a response to their experiences. No matter the reason or intent, it can be hurtful. My issue is not in getting hurt, but in being blamed for the hurt someone else inflicted on me.

As both my former boss and therapist told me, almost verbatim, “Have you ever considered you might not be the one with the problem?” Yes, but, then somehow, I default to thinking it is. There should be a solution, and if not, that is my fault! It’s easy to put doubt in my mind, and some do it on purpose, so they don’t have to admit their mistakes.

“Not everyone thinks like you,” was another piece of good advice from my boss. It’s obvious, but I sometimes forget, or I’m not aware of how immensely different that thinking can be.

I wonder if, at some point, I should stand up for myself, not just for me but for everyone else who has been or will be in my position. Furthermore, it’s for all the people who support me, family and friends, who have been impacted by the mistakes of others. But, I don’t want a war. I didn’t want it with my family, but it happened. People become entrenched, and I get caught in between. I now am

doubly entrenched! But, that’s not going to continue. How? I’m simply going to get up and leave, ignoring whatever is around me. At least, that is my plan.

There are those who want me to “fight” back, and I’m trying to keep them from doing so. What good will it do?

Whenever I want to be too sad or upset about what happened at my job, I try to see the irony and humor in the situation. All of those people are still there without me, and they have the same problems as always, but I’m not there for them to control or manipulate. What will they do? Honestly, I don’t care, though I hope they can find ways to be kinder to each other.

I wonder how many of them have figured out how many times I was encouraging them to be nicer to each other. They probably wouldn’t care, though it may surprise some of them. Perhaps, they are better off for what they will never know I did for them, even as they were hurting me. I can take solace in the fact that I know what my intentions were and were not. To be fair, I’m not always sure of their intentions.

My life has not ended, but the path has changed. Hopefully, I will find a better road. Maybe it’s one I was on before. Why do I need a road?

Many people have offered me unsolicited advice through the years. I had believed it was helpful, but I now realize it was a way to control me or to advance their agenda. In the best case, it was a lack of awareness, and that’s a classic autistic mistake. I know!

Some of this advice is sent via a “messenger,” a person wanting to be helpful or feeling an obligation towards a person, idea, or cause. That’s more palatable and understandable. It may not even be bad. However, I don’t have to take or be expected to take every bit of advice from all who offer it!

That has been possibly my biggest mistake in life! Have I ever been on my own path?I know I’ve not been entirely, and it is time to do so.

Yes, I’ll put on my “big boy pants,” but I won’t do it for you. Consequently, those pants are not the ones you wanted me to wear, and they won’t be traveling on the path you’d hoped I’d take. Maybe I’ll just wander in the wilderness in shorts. As long as I’m not actually hurting anyone by my actions or inactions, I’m not going to worry what anyone else thinks.

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