I am all kinds of sorry.
I know you need more sleep, more food, more hugs, more down time, and generally more care. Yeah, you’re pissed at me for overscheduling you, neglecting your needs, and demeaning you at every turn.
I swear it’s for your own good. You know how busy your friends are, and how busy you’ll be in a couple years. You’re just getting some of the hard stuff out of the way now. You’ll be glad for this money, this grade, this experience in a year or two.
You won’t feel better in a year or two. You’ll just be glad that it isn’t worse.
Yeah, I abuse you. I make you do things that you don’t want to do in the name of responsibility, future success, or some other goodness to come. And yeah, that’s true to a large degree. Slog through this now and life might make some happy little turn somewhere down the line. You know it’s not just the little things, like laundry, essays, jobs, and exams; you should do those things of your own volition. However, I tend to take the intrinsic joy out of these practices. Just another hour of studying; then you can sleep. You may not relax this weekend; you have too much to do. Since you have free time, how about you work an extra shift?
By now you’ve probably realized just how much cognitive dissonance is in play for me to even try to make this argument. This is a legitimately abusive line of thinking that I would never impose on any other human being, but am more than willing to impose on you.
I justify this behavior in several ways, as many abusers do. The rewards of money and good grades do much of the heavy lifting for me. So long as I can keep you in a gloom-and-doom mindset, I can prove just how damned you are after college unless you abide by my standards.
Also, y’know, everyone else does it. So if I abuse you, then I just join the masses of people my age who abuse themselves.
Now, of course, I have to face the predicament at the end of every cognitive dissonance. Do I apply this line of thinking to justify the poor treatment of others, or do I translate my beliefs about caring for others to how I treat myself?
Usually it’s the beliefs, not the actions, that cave.
But I like people.
So, both for your sake and for the people I know and love, I’m going to treat you better. I’m going to give you sleep, vegetables, free reads, television, and down time. I’m going to let you walk for the sake of walking and sit for the sake of sitting.
I cannot claim to love people while I torture myself.
Therefore, for the sake of my sanity, I will alleviate the dissonance. May your life be better so that you may make the lives of others better.