Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Parable of the Knife

Do you remember Doris Luke (played by Kathy Staff) in Crossroads? A do-gooder whose interventions invariable caused more problems for those they were trying to help.

Bloggers can sometimes do harm, even when they intend to do good. This short piece tries to communicate what that can feel like if you are vulnerable, sensitive and have bad memories brought back by those who think they are doing you a good turn. It's not about me. It's about someone I know who has trouble persuading "do-gooders" that their interventions can do more harm than good.

I hope it conveys something of how this makes those "helped" feel, and how disruptive it is to getting their life back together again.

Parable of the Knife

He was an old man now, but he could still remember the events. The cell. The strangeness of the court. Many people speaking to him. His head hurt. And then, he’d agreed something, and it made them happy, and it was all over.

For them, not for him. Suddenly he was on a plane, landing, left, nowhere to go.

“Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

He was homeless, sleeping rough for many years. The cold and hunger remained in his memory, pain etched deep. But it was also liberating: no people speaking, telling him what to do, not understanding, and with their own ideas of what was in his best interests.

It was in the past now, and he was rebuilding his life, far from the troubles of the past, but flashbacks still haunted his days from time to time, made worse by those who still thought they could speak for him.

The world had become global, and blogs from those who had decided to support him came, and came, each time, a turn of the knife, each time a dagger of the mind, bringing back that past.

Wasn’t that patronising? How dare they think they knew him better than he did? And why wouldn’t they leave him alone?

He told them to stop, but they would not listen. He begged them to stop, but they would not listen. He emailed, and ranted at them – stop, stop, stop – but they would not listen. That cut deep.

Sometimes those who take your side can do more harm than your enemies.

And so he wrote this down, wrote how he felt, how miserable this made him, the pain, the memory. Memory never goes away. Traumatic memories may be held back, but they are always there, waiting to be released. Sometimes it can be a scent, a sound, and sometimes – a blog.

"Think before you blog" would be a good maxim, especially when dealing with vulnerable people. Have some fellow feeling for the harm that well-intentioned support can do. That’s all he wanted to say, all he wanted them to hear. You are damaging me.

But they would not listen. And in the end, he put his head in his hands, in despair, and wept.

And still they blogged on his behalf. And twisted the knife deeper.

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