This here Facebook group has been bowling along for about two and a half years – and what a hoot it’s been.
There have been some ups and downs – my mental health has bounced around like a bouncy thing – at times some folk may not have completely understood where I was coming from – but the ups!
The ups have hugely outweighed the downs.
The walk a mile Facebook page was set up so that I could ramble about the ramble, and, more importantly, so I could hear other people’s stories.
It was set up to be a safe group – where folk could air their thoughts without fear of attack.
Sure – there should be space for debate – even slightly warmed up, perhaps even heated debate.
I felt, because of the clear nature of the group, mutual care and all round friendly squashiness was implicit in the name.
It may come as a surprise, but I have removed people from the group on several occasions.
These were people selling shoes. They put their adverts up on the page – I removed their post and told them what the group was about – they tried to sell shoes again so I removed them.
They probably weren’t even real people – bots, I’m informed.
Not terribly much to worry about during the life of the group.
Some of you may have witnessed the recent hoo-har on the page.
A hoo-har, where what appeared to be a bit of a misunderstanding exploded into unkind name calling, which was uncomfortable for some and distressing for others.
I attempted to deal with this in the background – messaging folk in an attempt to pour oil on troubled waters.
This attempt to make things better could be likened to a burning aircraft spiralling into a tempestuous ocean.
Sadly, both folk have left the group. I say sadly because I live in a happy clappy world where I would like to see an amicable resolution to an uncomfortable situation.
This is the lovely caring, sharing supportive group that I thought spoke for itself-
Walk a Mile in My Shoes.
It’s not the role of any of us to tell other members where to walk or what shoes to wear.
This is the shop window that shows the world the gratuitous kindness, hospitality and generosity of the people of the UK.
A window that shows I’m right.
I don’t like it when I feel things have gone wrong.
So what now? What can I do, sorry, we do to prevent this happening in the future – or – what do I do now it’s happened?
I’ve run my eyes over the Facebook rules and regulations – but it’s all a bit unclear – even stating that if I wrongly report someone I could be banned…
I’ve got an image in my head of the 10 year olds at the head of the good ship Facebook, playing table football paying little heed to the concerns of others…
Does Walk a Mile require a mission statement that outlines, in fine detail, what behaviour we as group expect from our fellow members?
I don’t know.
I know that, when things are going wrong for me, that’s the worst time to try to plan.
Responses can be reactive – ill thought through – divisive – escapist and ultimately unsatisfactory.
When I first got diagnosed with this silly condition – borderline personality disorder – I couldn’t help but think about all the punters I’d seen come through the doors of the social work department with the same malady.
I’d heard colleagues, yes, occasionally myself, calling it the dustbin diagnosis.
Others would describe folk with it as manipulative, aggressive, threatening, scary, unmanageable, untreatable, bad rather than sad…
There are books that back this negative view up. The first website I went to in an attempt to find out more stated the case for divorcing your BPD partner and keeping as much space between you and them as possible as being the only way ahead.
People with this kind of lunacy would often fail to get support – being described as ‘failing to engage with…’ their social worker, their GP, Psychiatrist…you name it.
But is this a failure of the person or of the service?
Imagine breaking your leg and just being given painkillers as a treatment?
Without proper diagnosis that leg is never going to heal properly.
Imagine those professional notes, ‘Mr X insists on limping and complaining about his mobility problems even after treatment. I can only conclude he is resistant to the management of his care…’
Looking at this from a different angle, I have been an astonishing pain in the arse in the past. I have been directly responsible for the discomfort and pain of others.
Am I mad, bad or sad?
These days I have learnt the art of keeping my mouth shut, of trying to talk about difficult things as they arise instead of bottling them up and then exploding at a later stage, of not reacting to my inner, often undirected rage.
I’ve also learned the dark art of forgiveness.
None of these things have come to me quickly or easily. I’ve had an array of psychological therapies, of life experiences, of rubbing shoulders with a wide variety of folk from whom I’ve learned a whole bunch of skills.
I’ve been trusted, misunderstood, mistrusted, judged, understood, loved, forgiven; I’ve made people laugh, cry, nervous, angry…
And a whole lot in between…
I’m guilty of misreading, misunderstanding, misjudging, fearing, mistrusting, mis-bloody-anything and acting in weird ways that are in accordance with these beliefs.
Normal responses to abnormal experiences.
Abnormal responses when we find ourselves in altogether more ordinary circumstances.
Mad, bad or sad?
I’d say I’m none of these and all three.
Is it me you’ve disliked, or my behaviour?
Perhaps a bit of both?
As a social worker I experienced a whole bunch of negative media about that sacred profession.
Not intervening enough – ‘What were the social workers doing?’ – too much -‘Why can’t they keep their noses out?’ – Even for not knowing – ‘Where were the social workers?’
Whose responsibility is it to stop shit from happening?
Yours? Mine? Theirs?
Walk a mile is a page for folk to think about those who find themselves on the edge of society – for folk who find themselves on the edge of society and…well…everyone else.
With such a mish-mash of folk there are bound to be times of hoo-harredness.
So, what should our guidelines say?
Personally, I think ‘Walk a Mile in my Shoes’ says enough.
But what about when things go wrong – shouldn’t there be someone in charge?
This is an open group of nearly 1000 folk.
We’re all in charge.
We know what’s right and we know what’s wrong.
That said, there will be times when I, you, or someone else might slip up – we might overstep the line, a line, somebody’s line.
What should I do, you do, we do?
The fact that we’re all part of this lovely group would suggest we have a whole bunch if common interests – except, of course, those pesky shoe-selling bots.
We can listen.
I can walk a mile in your shoes – you can walk in mine and we can walk in theirs.
That can take some time.
And if you, I, they can’t work it out?
Well, there’s another 900 odd folk who can merrily stick their oars in.
After all, this is our group.
Those are some of my thoughts…
I’m sure you, they, I, we could come up with a whole bunch more.
Walk a mile