There are two basic reasons we feel guilt when hurting someone's feelings:
1) We care. Ya know. Decent human being shit.
2) Their rejection reflects poorly upon us—i.e. our ego becomes so mortally wounded, we reject them first. This is grade A bitch baby behavior, and I check myself for it constantly.
I become absorbed in the emotions of others. Not much a busybody (I'll leave that to my mother) more of an empath. I hear someone speak, listen to their feelings, and it's as if I can feel them. Afterward, I carry a piece of them with me. This can be a purely magical, connected human experience.
But, if I get caught in anothers mental illness loop, it can be unnerving as hell.
Not because I don't care. Never because I don't care. And not because I care "too much" either. That's a bullshit concept for those obsessed with altruism. It's because—while I barely understand my brand of Crazy™—I'll attempt to take on theirs like it's mine. I understand through identification. But through that identification, I risk losing pieces of my own.
Because who am I without other people, really? If a bitch falls in the woods with no one around to pick her ass up, did she ever really fall at all?
Yes. Doubtlessly. Now, she's alone on a forest trail with a snapped ankle, waiting for death or rescue—whichever comes first.
Metaphors aside, navigating the feelings of others while considering mine is the toughest high-wire act. I don't want anyone to slip, but I'm not here to break their fall. These words feel fundamentally wrong as I type them, but standing up for myself commonly does.
I know who I am. My sense of self is iron clad. Who I am is someone who comprehends the world through compassion. Someone who doesn't believe in giving too many fucks, but occasionally runs out. I only love at one speed, at one volume, and I'm never more out of my element than when it becomes evident I should set boundaries.
Because boundaries are meant to keep people apart, when all I want is to be closer to everyone. To understand fucking everyone. To be one with the damned universe.
That isn't "too much," right?
In the end, it boils down to this: I can't be everyone's best friend, but I want to be. Or, bare minimum? I want to want to be. Maybe I am one of those assholes obsessed with altruism? Maybe I'm bullet point number two on my own damn list?
Or maybe—I just don't want anyone to have a bad day.