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15 February 2009 @ 08:49 pm
I have a hard time discerning apathy from acceptance.

I was 12. Adam was my first long-term boyfriend. 6 months. We held hands and kissed and passed notes in Science class and listened to Anthrax a lot.

My mom made that relationship really weird.

His mom was weird. My mom was weird. We understood each other a little bit.

We broke up. My mom tried to make him get back together with me. Like I said: weird.

I'll never know what motivated him to target me so brutally over the next 4 years. The rest of middle school, all of high school. Mean nicknames, harsh words, rumors.

Older kids parroted the cruel nicknames he'd coined for me, and I just smirked. It broke my heart for awhile, but I got over it. And without any purchase from me, they got over it too.

I accepted what he was doing. I accepted that I could take it, so it was better that I was his target than someone who would slash their wrists over it. Sometimes he would make me cry. Sometimes I would ask him to stop. But once the initial emotional reaction was gone, I knew what his home life was like, I knew at his core he was a decent guy, I knew he had a lot of very real reasons to be angry and none of them were actionable. I knew something about that.

Years later, I ran into Adam in the break room at CompUSA where I was a cashier. He was applying for a job. I said hi and asked if he wanted anything from the vending machine since I was getting something to eat on break and would be sitting across from him. He almost cried. He acknowledged how mean he'd been to me over the years. He apologized. I'd already made my peace with him a long time ago, before he even got really mean about it. I accepted his apology and told him it was Ok. He couldn't believe how kind I was.

Since then, I've often looked back on that whole experience. Sometimes I think I was open-hearted and truly kind, and I've often been afraid I could never get back to that place.

Right now, though, what I see is that mix - acceptance, apathy. I accepted that Adam wasn't going to be nice to me anymore. And as soon as I accepted it, I didn't care.

Acceptance and apathy came hand-in-hand for me a lot. And not just with Adam. With a lot of things.

I treat them like they're synonymous a lot.

What do you think?
Current Mood: pensivepensive
autonomic_pilotautonomic_pilot on February 16th, 2009 05:27 am (UTC)
I see more of a Venn-diagram here... but the shapes aren't so much circles as they are amorphous blobs... and they're three dimensional (and they move, so maybe there are really 4 dimensions).

Acceptance implies a kind of peace with the situation where apathy implies a disconnected impassivity. There is little passion with apathy, it is more of an amputation than an absorption.

Sometimes things must be severed from the body before enough distance from them can be gained to have any real perspective on them. After a time, those severed parts can come back into the whole, accepted as real, and emotionally accounted for.

I hope this makes sense. I might be under the influence of painkillers and very little sleep.
Angerieangerie on February 16th, 2009 09:21 am (UTC)
I like 'emotionally accounted for.'

Acceptance requires that everything be felt, sorted, categorized and put away. The end result is such an inderstanding that there's hardly an arousal of an emotional response. It's been emotionally dealt with.

The final state of acceptance may look like apathy, with the lack of an emotional response, but apathy left the problem on the table, it didn't sort anything out, it doesn't understand and that underlies the resulting lack of emotion.

So... Kim, no, your calm is not rooted in apathy. No way.
Cantakerous troubadoursonder on February 16th, 2009 06:18 am (UTC)
Acceptence is a certain understanding of the inevitability of an outcome, and adjusting mentally to it, understanding that among the minutiae there are ABSOLUTES. Death, pain, loss, etc.

Apathy is this as well, but untutored. Apathy doesn't understand that the human life revolves around the ultimate. It's finite.

People who accept live because and in spite of this.

People who are apathetic allow the knowledge to defeat them, so it halts their living.
Stray Catocicat on February 16th, 2009 07:47 am (UTC)
I have nothing constructive to add here. So I'll just throw in a quasi-relevant song lyric:

"What is the difference between apathy and ignorance?
I don't know... I and I don't care"

-Rob Brezsny
Pax: Treepaxamillion on February 16th, 2009 07:49 am (UTC)
Could it have been more empathy rather than apathy?

Maybe more of an understanding and acceptance that the torment that was being put to you, was in a little way, a reaction to the torments he received elsewhere.

It sounds like you could relate in some ways and had chosen to allow him that outlet.
Varnvarn_ix on February 16th, 2009 12:10 pm (UTC)
As I was reading your post, a well-formed reply was almost prepared by the time I was through, but since my personal growth last year entailed learning how to also read the comments before posting one, I'll go with angerie this time, as my answer would have been more or less the same.

Also, in this your case with Adam, I'd vote it was undoubtedly acceptance and not apathy. For me the difference between these two also includes the fact that if it's apathy I'm feeling, then there aren't (or haven't been) any strong feelings for the issue in the first place, or perhaps just the illusion of them; especially in situations where some kind of feelings are socially expected, like my late grandfather's funeral. Acceptance is 'loved and lost' and acknowledging both.
indie: blue daisyindiefic on February 16th, 2009 01:20 pm (UTC)
Acceptance and apathy came hand-in-hand for me a lot.

I have a post about this exact topic under a private filter from last week. I have no answers or even theories, but I do have a lot of 'uh-huh' and head nodding as I read.
Kriskfrye on February 16th, 2009 06:20 pm (UTC)
I think you're being pretty hard on yourself. What matters more: actions and resulting emotions, or the secret motivations that may or may not even be there? Are you trying to make your past self into someone who is less compassionate so that you don't have as much to live up to? Or am I reading too much into it?

Cuz from where I'm standing, you were a pretty terrific, caring person back then in spite of all the pain and awful things you went through. And.... you're still that person.
Kburgunder on February 16th, 2009 06:24 pm (UTC)
Definitely reading too much into this, heh. I'm completely detached from this as I think about it, actually. Just kind of self-curiousity, an observation, and wondering if other people confuse these things. Totally not a big deal.
Kriskfrye on February 16th, 2009 06:42 pm (UTC)
Well, good. :) It kinda reminds me of the question: When people do good deeds such as giving money to charity or volunteering, are they doing it to be good people or because they want to feel that they are good people?
Kburgunder on February 16th, 2009 06:51 pm (UTC)
Jake and I discuss (and agree to disagree) about this constantly.

I'm a big fan of the action itself, Jake is a big fan of the intention.
Kriskfrye on February 16th, 2009 07:03 pm (UTC)
I'm firmly on the action side (in most cases, anyway).
Vulture: sombrerovulture23 on February 16th, 2009 10:33 pm (UTC)
Sometimes it's hard to distinguish between acceptance and apathy. I often have a hard time with distinguishing the difference in myself. Conversely, there's been times when I've felt clearly that I was being accepting, and been angrily accused of being apathetic.

I think that a large part of the reason it's so hard to distinguish is that much of the difference between them is a matter of internal emotional state. Other people can't see that state, and it's easy for people to not really be aware of their own internal state. But acceptance leads to different interpretations of later events than apathy does, and thus eventually to different actions -- as well as to different levels of self-contentment and happiness.

As far as the question of whether action or intentions are more important... I have to chime in with the thought that *both* are significant. Good actions without good intentions are still good; good intentions without actions are of limited usefulness; but good actions are a better thing if driven by good intentions, and good intentions are (or at least can be) a mitigating factor when actions turn out to be hurtful.

(And I concur with others -- what you describe with Adam is definitely *not* apathy, as you clearly cared very deeply about it, but the understanding of why it was happening made it bearable (if only just) and forgiveable...)