Note to Self: Sometimes you have to rant. But it's better not to.
Photo Credit: Trinity Kubassek
So, this post started out as a rant, and ended up being pretty enlightening. If you stay with me ’til the end, I promise you’ll learn something worthwhile. Important things, like being aware of how we treat people we’re close to. And that there is such a thing as the Devil's Dictionary. So, here we go: You know what I don't get? The word accommodation applied to relationships. That makes no sense. Every type of relationship is a mutual support/care system. If a sacrifice is made, you do it because you care about that person more than that thing, and you make that choice of your own free will. Yet I have been told multiple times by someone close to me that they have been "accommodating" me. Any guesses as to how that makes me feel? (No, not pathetic, but good try). It makes me feel like that person doesn't really care about me. They use the word "accommodate" and I hear "tolerate." It makes it sound like I'm a piece of furniture and you have to move things around in order for me to fit. Let's look at a definition. According to my actual printed book dictionary, accommodate means “to adapt/to do a favor/to have space for,” accommodating means “obliging,” and accommodation means “adjustment/willingness to do favors/a help;convenience/lodgings;traveling space.” When I type 'accommodation definition' into Google, it gives me three definitions: 1. lodging/room and board, the available space for occupants in a building, vehicle, or vessel, the provision of a room or lodging 2. a convenient arrangement; a settlement or compromise 3. the process of adapting or adjusting to someone or something And, what the hell, the definition of accommodate according to one Ambrose “Bitter” Bierce and his Devil’s Dictionary (which can be found online- thank you Dr. Stone): To oblige; to lay the foundation of future exactions. Admittedly, parts of relationships involve some of those things- like compromise, favors, help. But no relationship is based off of them. I think it's important to know when to "accommodate" others, and when to "accommodate" yourself. (Might I suggest phrases like “doing a favor” or something else from one of the definitions in place of “accommodate” to make things clearer). But let's get something straight. It is not accommodation to let someone feel something. Each individual is responsible for their own feelings; you can help someone feel better or make them feel worse, but doing either of those things is not accommodating that person. Offering comfort is a selfless act of friendship and caring. It is also not accommodation to allow someone to talk to you. You are not royalty up there on your pedestal. I don't really know what else to say about that. Telling someone that you're "accommodating" them is a form of verbal abuse. Saying that to someone lets them know that you are the one taking time for them- they have inconvenienced you, put strain on you (My thoughts: Oh, yes, how rude of me to expect comfort from a friend. It's so kind of you to berate me for expressing myself to you.). You are the one in control, in charge. And they are lesser than you. It is your life and they are only allowed to be a part of it at your will. But I bet you don't realize that that's not accommodation- accommodation is compromise, mutual compromise, so if you tell someone you are accommodating them, then logically they would be doing something to accommodate you as well. To clarify that: One person does not accommodate another, two people accommodate each other (Even the Devil’s Dictionary definition implies that). "Accommodation" is used appropriately in that situation because it is compromise. So what are those you say you are accommodating doing for you? They are giving up their own peace of mind or happiness, or even confidence or self-esteem for your needs over theirs, while you deign to talk to them, while you put up with them. They are doing what you want even though it hurts them, while they get nothing in return. Well, nothing but disdain. Short version: It sucks to basically be told you don't matter, especially by someone you care about. Maybe they mean to make you feel that way, maybe they don't. Which is why this rant hopefully becomes an important lesson. For those of us on the receiving end, remember that you’re a part of the accommodation just as much. You are accommodating by giving in to their needs over yours. And what do you get from it? You're not compromising, you're sacrificing yourself. Sometimes sacrifice happens, for whatever reason. But it should never be at the cost of your happiness. Stand up for yourself. And have patience. If there is someone who treats you this way, maybe they don't know they're doing it. Maybe they’re just annoyed, because no one wants to hear complaints, or that a friend is in pain. I’ve learned that people tend to dislike those they’ve hurt—maybe they’re being mean because they feel guilty and are afraid of hurting you more (makes no sense, I know, but we’re only human; sometimes when we feel bad about something, especially something we’ve done, it makes us be even meaner- see a cycle, anyone?). Even so, don't let them say things like that. Don't let anyone treat you like you are less; everyone deserves to be treated like they are more. So tell them how their attitude makes you feel, and be patient with them. Don't be angry or make them feel guilty, be caring—be a friend. Because even though this started out as a rant, it doesn't solve anything. Getting angry about something only makes you angrier than you already were. Holding back anger will help let the anger go (please note, I did not say hold it IN, I said hold it BACK). To clarify, here is a line from a book I am in the process of reading (it's called The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin): "There's no evidence for the belief that ‘letting off steam’ is healthy or constructive. In fact, studies show that aggressively expressing anger doesn't relieve anger but amplifies it. On the other hand, not expressing anger often allows it to disappear without leaving ugly traces.” One part of the same book also highlights that it’s important to acknowledge other people’s feelings (and you should probably be aware of your own feelings as well before you say something you regret). For instance, when our feelings are denied or contradicted, it makes us feel worse. This is common for those of us with depression- we’ll say we feel depressed, and someone will tell us we’re not really depressed, we’re just sad or down at the moment. When I told the same friend who tells me he accommodates me that I’m really lonely, his response was “You can’t put that kind of strain on people…it’s not something you do to a so-called friend.” Obviously, this did not make me feel better. In fact, it made me feel more lonely. I ended up telling him that he was partially right. It might not have been right of me to dump those feelings on him, but friends dump on each other all the time- and most friends try to make you feel better, not worse. No one who cares about you wants to hear that you’re hurting, but sometimes you have to give them the truth, which is just what I did. If he had said something nice to me, acknowledged that my feelings were there, I would have felt better. Instead, after I responded to his last message, he didn’t reply. So basically, it got to the point where he couldn’t even acknowledge that I existed. I wasn’t asking for comfort, but comfort is something a friend just gives. I wanted understanding; instead I got shunned. So take note of these things. I think it's important because anger hurts. You end up hurting other people when you're angry, but you also end up hurting yourself. It’s easy to respond to the hurt and the frustration by lashing out or by being cold—and I’ll bet it doesn’t make you feel better. I suppose you could say you've accommodated yourself by allowing yourself a vulnerable moment of steam-blowing. Was it worth it?