I keep hurting others, unintentionally

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just18someone
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I keep hurting others, unintentionally

Unread post by just18someone »

So, I've moved away from home thanks to college, and live with a roommate. There's this other girl who keeps hanging out in our room since she doesn't have a roommate and we tend to joke about how she intrudes. She told us that she doesn't like it after internalizing for days, and so we stopped.
Today, we were teasing each other again and we ended up comparing her to Gunther from FRIENDS, and I accidentally made the joke again. I realized what I did and I apologized about it and I moved on. But then she snapped at me about it, and I didn't know what to do so I excused myself, and here I am.
3 days ago my roommate exploded at me, because of a game she started and realized there was no winning. I won't bother you with the details, but I really didn't know how to handle it since it's difficult to get through someone who doesn't want to listen. I feel guilty, cause its like I'm suddenly hurting people I barely know. I've been with them for 3 weeks and don't completely understand their sensibilities, but I am a generally sarcastic person and I'm not to be taken seriously when I say things. I would have stopped joking entirely if they had a problem with it but they enjoy the jokes when its not about them. Other people take it in stride since I don't really poke at anyone's insecurities, its always circumstantial.
I can't really talk to them about it either since I don't know what to do if they start screaming again, and I'm afraid I might burst into tears since it makes me feel trapped. I'm away from my friends and family and I don't have anyone to discuss it with so I'd like your opinions about it.
Heather
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Re: I keep hurting others, unintentionally

Unread post by Heather »

I get the impression a lot of this has to do with the social dynamics with your roommate, and how you're grappling with them. Perhaps the teasing of this other girl might even be about you trying to appease your roommate?

Does that sound right to you?

Can I also check in with you: is there an RA for your dorm?
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
just18someone
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Re: I keep hurting others, unintentionally

Unread post by just18someone »

No, it doesn't have anything to do with my roommate since teasing is common in our circle. Even they contribute to it when I'm the target (I don't mind since its all light hearted). Actually, my roommate and the other girl relate to each other better since they both come from small cities. It's weird because after they snap at me they don't have 'anything personal against me', which makes no sense because it is personal? I can't make much sense out of it.

We do have a warden, but I don't know if that's the same as a RA or if she does the job of a RA anyways. She didn't really seem supportive to me, and we also have a character sheet that will be evaluated before they grant us rooms next year. I would prefer to not get them involved, in case things get nastier because of it.
Heather
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Re: I keep hurting others, unintentionally

Unread post by Heather »

I feel a little confused, then, so let me make sure I'm not missing something: isn't your roommate who you said you feel trapped by and scared of? Who is exploding at you?

Also, who do you think will be a person who is making things nastier?
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
just18someone
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Re: I keep hurting others, unintentionally

Unread post by just18someone »

In general I don't, but ever since she(my roommate) yelled at me I realized it makes me feel trapped since I can't defend myself. Both my roommate and I are short tempered, her more than me, and apparently I control it better. Because of this both of us could elevate the problem cause I can't control it for longer and I might lose it if this happens again. I can be really mean and I don't want to hurt someone like that again.
Also, the entire situation has made both of them passive-aggressive, which is very confusing because I really don't know if even speaking to them is alright.
Heather
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Re: I keep hurting others, unintentionally

Unread post by Heather »

So, it sounds like maybe -- if we keep this centered on you -- where you may be at right now in your life is realizing that you have some issues -- a short-temper, being mean -- that you recognize are problems and you want to start working on them. Do I have that right?

If so, I commend you on that. Teasing people and otherwise being mean, and having anger management problems isn't a sound or compassionate way to live life, it's stuff that hurts others but also isn't good for you. It hurts you, too, in a bunch of ways.

So, there are a lot of different ways to go about making those kinds of changes with how you interact with people: counseling or therapy, self-help books, support groups, classes, changing your social circle up so you're not close with anyone else with those same issues (which would make it much harder for you not to go there, too). I don't know if you have a spiritual practice or community, but if so, that's often something else that can help with this.

Any sense of which of those routes for starting to work on this sound like they might be good fits for you?
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
just18someone
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Re: I keep hurting others, unintentionally

Unread post by just18someone »

I do come from a spiritual and religious background, so I do meditate and do yoga. I am getting much better at controlling and understanding where my temper comes from, and I'm happy about that. I would also like to figure out how to calm someone else down and not be in the same position again, because it was the first time that someone other than my family who really did scream at me. It bothers me since I generally am good at defending myself but at that moment I was helpless.
A little teasing is in every group, so I doubt I could find some place without it. I would also like to know what to do if my roommate decides to do that again, since regardless of my reaction, I'm going to be the one that's hurt for no reason.
Heather
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Re: I keep hurting others, unintentionally

Unread post by Heather »

I actually disagree that teasing happens in all social interactions and groups. It doesn't and it doesn't have to. It's not something anyone has to accept or do. (I know in my own social circles, it's very rare. and when it does happen it's only ever good natured rather than mean-spirited.)

Really, we can't calm other people down: it's on each of us to manage our own behaviour and feelings. But you certainly can do things to de-escalate, like by you staying calm while someone else is not, and by simply leaving any situation where someone isn't interacting with you or others in an emotionally healthy and safe way.

I'm not sure what you are asking about with your roommate: if they do *what* again? Can you fill me in on what you're asking about specifically?

Per your spiritual practice: do you have any kind of community for that? Do you go to a temple, for instance?
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
just18someone
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Re: I keep hurting others, unintentionally

Unread post by just18someone »

My roommate did scream at me and try to purposely hurt me (verbally) in her anger, and I don't know what to do if she'd do that again, considering the fact that it has been only a few weeks. She said things that she thought might hurt me, such as criticize some of my quirks. I feel apprehensive of the time we'd know each other much better and she'd actually be able to cause some harm.

I don't go to a temple by choice since I'm an atheist. It's just something that's a common practice in my family, kinda like brushing your teeth.
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Re: I keep hurting others, unintentionally

Unread post by Mo »

It might be helpful to find a quiet time when you can bring some of this up with your roommate, acknowledge that there's been some conflict between you, and see if you can both talk about what issues you're having and how to move forward.
just18someone
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Re: I keep hurting others, unintentionally

Unread post by just18someone »

Well I tried talking to her today, and it didn't really work out. She was snappy and maintained that she took the right stance and refused to look at things from my perspective. I didn't want to fight over it again so I let it go, but speaking about it again made me feel really guilty again although we both contributed to the issue.
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Re: I keep hurting others, unintentionally

Unread post by Sam W »

That does sound like a stressful situation. You mentioned above that you're not sure if the warden is the one in charge of mediating issues between roommates. Is there an office of student affairs, or even the office that handles housing, that would know who you should contact? I know you're wary of bringing in people from the school, but it might be the best option for sorting out this situation (especially if you're worried this might get worse over time).

Another option, and one that might fit some of the needs you're expressing, is to find a counselor on campus who you could talk to. They might be able to help you find some ways to calm the situation between you and your roommate (though how successful that is may depend on how your roommate reacts).
just18someone
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Re: I keep hurting others, unintentionally

Unread post by just18someone »

Sorry for the late reply, have been caught up in work. I have been trying to take time to meet the counselor, but that hasn't happened yet. I will try again this week, hopefully it works out. She did apologize to me, but didn't promise it won't happen again. Her apology went something like, I'm sorry I know I'm erratic but I'm not taking things well and you are the only one I can blow up on. I didn't know how to respond to it and just nodded, but it seems unfair that I've to take the brunt of her not handling being away from family.
Anyway, I guess counselling has been something that has been a long time coming and it could help me regardless of this situation getting better or worse. Thanks for helping me through it, and also for the quick response. :)
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Re: I keep hurting others, unintentionally

Unread post by ashleah »

Hi Just18someone,

I'm happy to hear that you all where able to discuss it more without things escalating but I do have to agree with you that it's not fair, nor healthy, for your roommate to take out her frustrations on you. My concern is that she will keep using this excuse if future conflict arises. I want to follow up on the suggestion of involving the warden or the housing coordinator if you get a sense that things have not improved. You could even ask your roommates if they would be open to going with you just to avoid blowing up at each other. How do you think that suggestion would go over?
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