A number of years ago a former classmate from high school sent me a friend request on a (now dead) social network so that she could get back into touch with me. We chatted a bit, then for a number of days nothing really happened. I was living my own life, she hers. Then I got a message from her telling me that she would be removing me from her friends list. Her reasoning was that my posts (mostly links to my blog) were upsetting to her, and I hadn't even bothered to comment on or congratulate her with her new baby.
This was hardly an isolated incident either. People breaking off contact with me seems to be about on par for the course. Whether it's just posting my blog updates, people finding out about my intersex condition (at least one guy really got angry at me for that one), my suicide attempt a few years back (people don't like suiciders much), or simply my apparent lack of interest in their lives. The reasons are legion. So are the accusations.
Some of the fancier things I have been called include 'selfish', 'self-absorbed', 'obsessed', 'crazy', 'health freak' and 'emotionless'. After the most recent occurrence of this I have been really giving this a great deal of thought in order to put together a coherent thought on this without having to resort to either apologizing, a counter-accusation, or plain grand-standing.
The main thought I ended up with is that yes, I am in fact pretty darn selfish. The thought immediately preceding that is that I have a pretty good reason to be selfish, as this is another way one could refer to the act of surviving.
From spending roughly fifteen miserable years trapped in a body and mind neither of which I could comprehend, to find out that I was deceived about my true nature, only to end up in a prolonged war with the world's physicians, with both sides battling over the question of which organs I actually have, meanwhile having to suffer countless attempts at brainwashing me into believing that I was something I totally am not, countless humiliating physical examinations and the outright conclusions by the hostile side that I was just plain freakin' crazy.
This placed against the wonderful background of my parents divorcing, moving around half the Netherlands, then to Canada for a short while and back again, until finally permanently fleeing my country of birth in the hope that with that I'd at least have escaped the worst hell that way.
Any trust I had in humanity has been shattered. I feel relieved when someone ends up not betraying me. I am exulted when I get through an event without anything negative occurring. I rejoice when I do not feel like harming this horrific body of mine in any way or form for a day. I am amazed when I honestly feel like I do not wish to die if given the choice. Most of my days are filled with the grim realisation that people around me are out to get me, even as I struggle through the haze of false emotions flooding forth from my traumas.
I have said it many times before: I cannot interact well with others on a social level. Superficially, yes. After that, however, it requires me to do more than just emulate an emotional side and that's where the incredibly pain inside of me will come out. I noticed this most recently when I was just talking to a colleague who asked after the results of this MRI scan I had recently. Even trying to just keep things formal and keep any details, let alone emotions out of it, I noticed just how much I was struggling to contain the overwhelming amount of emotions I keep locked away. I'm sure she noticed it as well. I felt miserable for hours afterwards.
So yes, I am selfish. Fortunately there are many who understand this, such as my mother who has gone through her own traumas growing up. Also my best friend and others around the world but also here in the city. They understand the pain inside of me, whether through their own experiences, empathy, or both. They understand what I'm going through. That I'm still merely surviving, and that I just need the support they can give me while I keep fighting for my life. That even if I cannot give back the friendship and care they offer today, that I will not forget their kindness.
If wanting to live instead of surrendering to the inevitable makes me into a selfish person, then by all means, call me selfish. Why should I care about what they think of my life anyway?