Trend I’ve noticed — a sign of selfish folk, self-centered folk, people who lack empathy: they tend to turn any complaint about them back on the complainer.

Couple of examples might help to illustrate my point. First, a legal example. I had a coworker who discovered some very disturbing things about our mutual employer. Well, specifically, some of the middle managers. She tried to file a formal complaint about the things they were doing, the illegal things, but the complaints were ignored by management and, in turn, they quickly built a case against her and terminated her employment. She then sued them for wrongful termination. And in their defense, they claimed that they had fired her because she was doing the things they were alleged to have done. In other words, their defense was a mirror of what she had originally claimed they were doing.

Second example, although a bit more of a poor match. The Republicans, over 30 years ago, were terrified by what a free media could accomplish when journalists reported openly and truthfully on the Republicans’ “dirty tricks”. It brought down President Nixon when he and his people’s activities were brought into public scrutiny. So in response, the Republicans enlisted the help of corporations and conservative and wealthy men and remade the media, putting their people in control of key networks and newspapers, employing think tanks to massage their message and craft their public image, and eliminating laws like the Fairness Doctrine so that opinion can masquerade as “news”. 30 years ago, nothing like Fox News, openly partisan and completely in the thrall of the conservative movement, could have possibly existed.

But all along, part of the conservative movement’s “defense” of their actions was creating this myth that the media has some “liberal bias” against Republicans and their dealings. In other words, while they were secretly pulling the levers of power to gain control of the national discourse, they made the claim that, in fact, the opposite was the case.

Finally… I almost hesitate to bring this up, but it’s an important point. At least, important for me to document for future reference. I have had several relationships in the past where I felt the situation was imbalanced. I compromised more, I gave more time, decisions on activities were decided in their favor more often than in mine. When, in the past, I’ve attempted to raise that complaint, more often than not the complaint was turned back on me. Where I asked that they make more time available for me, now they complained that I didn’t spend enough time with them. Where I explained that their disrespect was hurting me, now they claimed to be the hurt one. When I asked them to not speak so harshly of me, now they claimed that my words were hurting them. And sometimes they attacked me, all in the name of “defending” themselves.

Picture that. The situation is what it was, no complaints from the other person. But as soon as I raise the alarm, try to get them to bring the relationship into balance, the other turns around and demands more concessions from me, considers it suddenly OK to attack me, and then tries to appropriate the issues for themselves.

Gee, if you had a complaint before, why not say something earlier?

Or better yet, why not own up to the complaint and address it? Why does it suddenly have to be “balanced” by action on both sides? I’m the aggrieved party here, I don’t think it’s very positive suddenly having to defend myself.

At any rate, I’m finding that, yes, very likely there was an imbalance there. I’ve been creating that imbalance by giving more of myself to my friends than I give to myself. I have an internal double-standard; I basically treat my friends much better than I treat myself. So I’m making an effort to eliminate the harsh standard by which I judge myself. It’s difficult work. It’s been difficult just to recognize that it exists, in fact. But it’s made especially difficult by having relationships with people who make harsh demands of me. Not all my friendships are like that.

But I need to either change or eliminate the ones that are making those demands of me without being able to recognize and give back to me what I need.