Emotional Arsonist

emotional-arsonist

I was weary and ready for sleep tonight when it was time for lights out. I did not write yesterday because the words had not yet come to me. Then magically they appeared in the middle of the night as they sometimes do like a song stuck in my head. The longer I lay there trying to ignore them, trying to wait til the morning, the louder the song grew. Until there was only one choice to make, it is time to write.

I woke initially with a pain in my shoulder which makes sense because I am carrying a burden. A burden that weighs heavy on my heart and heavier on my soul.

Before I go further I would like to offer background for this post:
The Unraveling of a Family Tie
and
Boundaries are Hard in Families
will give some context to this post for anyone that wants it.

Out of respect for my family I have been doing what I consider shadow writing on topics related to family issues up to this point. For now I plan to continue to write in the shadows, I may feel differently about this as time goes on, that is yet to be seen.

So in these previous posts I have mentioned a long brewing issue that one family member is at the center of. In recent months another family member has become involved and when this took place a small flame was lit. A flame of negativity and malice, of confusion and mistrust. This small flame has resulted in a raging fire of destruction and disconnection that threatens to engulf my family.

Previously I mentioned that I am not the fire department and I hold no power to extinguish this blaze; that is still my truth. I am one person with a bucket though and today was the day I decided it was time to pick up my one bucket and use it before it was too late.

Up to this point this flame has been somewhat contained. There are two family members who started it and they have been trying to add small pieces of kindling but the fire has burned away from most of the rest of the family so we have been able to remain uninvolved with collective hope that this fire would burn out on its own given enough time. Today a flame from that fire licked my face and that was too close to comfort. It was time to set a hard boundary.

What took place was that my relative who is one of the fire starters emailed the entire family to speak their truth about another family member who they have a waged character war against. This was done as a way to further discredit this person and lambast their integrity. On this issue I remain neutral, this is not my quarrel. What I will not do however is accept any kind of correspondence that will cause further injury to my family. I did not read more than the first line of this person’s email, that was enough for me. From there I took a breath and decided to respond. My response was as follows:

_________________ ,

Please know that as I write this email I bear you no ill will. I believe that you feel that you are doing what you think is right.

With that said, I did not read your email and I will not read any further correspondence that means to further injure our family. When I say family, that includes everyone. You, ______, and _______ will always be part of my family and I will always have compassion for all of you, as I do everyone in the family.

I feel as though you have lost your way and I send you light and love during this difficult time.

As forĀ  __________, there is nothing that anyone could ever say that would convince me that he is anything less than good hearted.

I hope we are able to heal as a family. The disconnection we are experiencing is hurtful and it does not have to be.

I am sending you love and forgiveness.

 

This was my bucket of water. This was my offering and my hope is that the healing energy of love and compassion would act as water to the flame. If not, I have at least set the boundary in an assertive way to let them know I will not accept this kind of correspondence going forward.

This person’s email was entitled “The Truth” and they spoke their truth. I took this as an invitation for the rest of us to speak ours.

I have remained silent and neutral up to this point, as the rest of my extended family has, for reasons I have listed before: hopefully this will blow over, it is none of my business, etc.

This is not blowing over, the flames are growing larger and the moment my relative sent that email to the entire extended family this situation went from being none of my/our business to this person making it our business.
There is a time for silence and a time for action and for me the time for silence ended the moment this person hit the “send” button and spewed this venom on the family.

I still remain neutral on the overarching issue because I do not believe it is my place to pass judgement on who is right or wrong. I might have my private feelings about that but I do not have the authority or the right to pass that judgement openly. I also do not believe that doing so will help me meet my ultimate goal for an outcome which is the healing and preservation of my entire family.

Judgement and anger and other negative emotions would only further insight this fire. To put out a fire you have to introduce a new element: sand, water, etc. Love is my water. Unconditional forgivenessĀ  and compassion are my water. An invitation to heal is my water.

When I sent my response I replied all. No one else in my family had responded to this relative, this is still true. My hope is that I was able to set an example of love, an example that my family will have the courage to follow. My hope is that my family will see me here with bucket and join me with buckets of their own healing truth to share with this family member in an effort to extinguish this flame.

In the end we cannot control this person or their reactions. We are not the fire department and we may not be able to put out this inferno. I will not stand by with my bucket and feel useless though. I will not watch my family burn and do nothing when I have a bucket I can offer. My family may be doomed to burn either way but at least I know I did my part.

Tonight I send out love and light to everyone in my family, we all are hurting in the wake of this crisis. My hope and intention is the light I am sending out be the light that guides my family back to a path of love and connection. We have to come back to each other in love and connection to heal and be whole again.

 

An aside: When I got out of bed to come and write I did what I normally do when I write in the middle of the night. I lit my candles to bring light and love to darkness, I lit my salt lamp with the same intention, and I made myself a cup of tea. Then I took my tea and nested in blankets on the couch for comfort. The tea I often make for middle of the night writing is a brand that has what I think of as “love notes” on the tag. When I looked at the love note on my tea it was as though the Universe knew what I am trying to do with my healing bucket of water and was sending me support and assurance in its own way.

cosmic-support

 

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Impenetrable

No matter how hard we work at life, no level of achievement (internal or external) will ever raise us so high as to be beyond judgement. I had an epiphany while reading this week. A former professor published a book about striving for authenticity, the subject matter suits me perfectly. I agreed to do a book review for him so I have been rereading certain chapters as a way of getting my thoughts together before I begin writing the review.

I have had my fair share of negative critiques in life. This is to be expected, navigating your teens and twenties is a dangerous business, few make it out without some scars. I know for a fact that I have been to blame for emotional scars on others and I acquired a few of mine own as well. I have regret about those I hurt and know that it was not done with intention or malice. I was not, am not and never will be perfect however so all I can do is own my mistakes, apologize for injuries I have caused, learn and grow. The first two I have covered, the second two will always be a work in progress.

The challenge is

– Knowing which critiques are worth processing and which are not worth the time.

– Not always feeling the need to defend ourselves or our actions.

– Understanding that while we may have good intentions in life that is not true for everyone. Some people are just being cruel or catty, do not dwell. Their words have less to do with us and more with them.

– Forgiving those who do mean us harm in their words. They need it.

In life we will always face a level of criticism whether it has foundation or not. The ultimate goal is to face judgement, whether it has constructive benefit or not, and not lose our self-confidence over it. Learn from it, grow from it, but do not allow someone’s harsh words shake you into self-doubt.

Sometimes sleep doesn’t come

If it has not already been established, I have an anxiety disorder. It is not severe and quite manageable but it does make somethings more complicated than they should be, like sleep for example. Over the years of sleep-overs with friends and serious relationships I have noticed how effortlessly some people fall into slumber with a bit of envy. My last boyfriend took his sleep quite seriously, not that I blame him, and found my dilemma with not being able to fall asleep easily to be a huge inconvenience. Todd is a bit more understanding, not that it doesn’t at times inconvenience him as well, he just does his best to help me rather than become frustrated, not that I would blame him either if he did become annoyed. I annoy myself with this, I can only imagine how someone who falls asleep easily and sleeps soundly must feel when faced with my restlessness.

Alas, tonight is no exception. We were in bed by 10 and here I sit hours later still awake with all sorts of nonsense running through my mind. It is not my intention to use this outlet as an alternate anxiety journal. I have one that has been therapeutic over the years. However, it has always been my intention to use this as a means to chronicle my experiences as a returning student. This is a part of the experience so for tonight I have decided to untie my knots here rather than going to my journal as I usually would.

There are many things on my mind that are keeping sleep away tonight. Tomorrow is the first day back to school after spring break so I know that is where this anxiety is stemming from. I always have a concern of not being prepared literally and/or figuratively to return to work/school after a break. i think that is normal. I think most people feel nervous or apprehensive about returning to their responsibilities after having some downtime. I made sure to check all my syllabi to confirm there is nothing I needed to do to prepare for tomorrow’s classes so that is one knot I can easily untie. I do have a bit of dread going into tomorrow’s statistics class though. As always I am having trouble in math. I feel lost in the current chapter and am nervous about the upcoming test. I know that all I need to do is sit with Todd and have him guide me through my notes and homework, I am just not looking forward to it and the self defeating side of me is telling me I just won’t get it. That’s a terrible attitude to have, I know. I HAVE to push through that negative self talk and truly do my best.

I also have been laying in bed thinking about my major. There are things I need to do to prepare myself for graduation and transferring to UCF, that is no real concern, they will be taken care of. What is keeping me up is thoughts of “Am I sure I can do this?” and “Can I even get a job I will be happy with once I have my BSW?” I like the idea of getting my Masters in Social Work but that is something that would come later. My preference is to get my 4 year degree and then get my feet wet in the field. Even after completing my BSW I feel that I will be too green to know with certainty what career path I want to pursue so I would rather work for a while and then go back for MSW once I have a better idea of the work i would like to do long term. This is the same approach to college in general and although it may have taken me longer to finish, I would not change anything. If I had followed through at 18 and gotten my BA or MA straight out of high school I would have gotten a business degree and wasted a lot of money to be miserable. It took me working in the professional world for 5 years before I knew who I was and what role I wanted to play in society/the work force. This is not different. I know I want to Social Work, I just don’t know in what capacity yet, that will come with time and experience.

Anyway, I finally gave into the fact that sleep was not going to come anytime soon and started searching career options for BSW degrees. Not super excited about the results but I am sure I will have a much better idea of what is out there once I am in the program.
I also did a search of my professor, Dr Padilla, because I know he is a published author and am curious about his most recent book. I forget the exact title but it has to do with being your authentic self. It is about self identity and the role society plays etc. It sounds interesting but I am always a bit critical of the self- help or just insightful “meaning of life” type books. I’ve always found that to be a weird truth about myself because I am so introspective and into these topics usually but I am not usually very quick to “buy what people are selling”, I have to take a while to make up my own mind about the message. I do find him thought provoking though and would be willing to read his book.

The main thing keeping me awake tonight is far from any of these some what related topics though. I have put it off to the end because I as I have been sitting here I have been debating mentioning it at all. This is one of the things I struggle with in keeping this blog. This is not the first time I have struggled with the choosing to be honest and putting in everything or editing myself for fear of who might read this. The last time I was in this position I chose to write everything and I will this time as well. I have to mention how exposed what I am about to include makes me feel. The last time I how to make the decision on whether to include something or not my concern was the person I was writing about being judged or what I was saying being misunderstood and feelings being hurt, it was a delicate matter involving someone I love deeply. This time my concern is that I am opening up about something I do not share with anyone. I have no real interest in sharing and have a bigger fear that the wrong person will read this and judge me. I know the probability of any of this is low so i will leave it at that and continue.

There is a song, Little Hell by City and Colour, that talks about what I am about to get into. Specifically, the lyric where he says; “There’s a degree of difficulty in dealing with me, from my haunted past comes a daunting task of living through memories”.

I have only really broached the subject with Todd once, briefly. When I was having an episode of anxiety one night I told him how I feel haunted by things I have been through. I was not specific because this is one thing I keep close to my chest but maybe that is part of why I have a hard time with it. There is one part of my life, my past, I have never been able to.. I don’t know how to finish this sentence.. work through, get over, forget.. None of that really feels right. I am not even sure what exactly it is that keeps me.. stuck. Lack of closure maybe?

I have never had too much trouble moving forward in life. Things have gone wrong, relationships have not worked out, I have dealt with heart ache and disappointment just like everyone else, I am not unique and no more or less damaged than anyone else. I think what helps me get through hard times is taking ownership for my part. This doesn’t work for everything, somethings like death are completely out of my hands, but in many situations this has worked and helped me forgive and grow. I don’t ever think of myself as a victim. There is this one area though that I have never been able to deal with though. Looking back at it I feel confused. I dont know what my part was. I know now that I reacted badly to situations at times because of anxiety I was unaware of at the time but even then these situations I am referring to should have never happened. They are situations I should have never been put in and they were situations I had no control over. I blindly trusted someone that I am not sure I should have. I want to believe that this person cared about me, they acted in a manner that would make me think so but I have never been sure. Whats worse is that many times this blindness was willful. I am ashamed of that. I knew I was being lied to, I knew things were not as they seemed but I was afraid to question it and rock the boat. It wasn’t until I was pushed to a limit of losing all self respect that I finally drew a line, a line that was immediately crossed and forced me to make a decision I would never have otherwise made..

I have never been able to understand what really bothers me about what happened years ago in this period of my life. I see the good that came out of it, I became stronger, I found myself. It ended up being the best thing that could have happened to me, I know that I would not be the same person if all of this had not happened, I just wish I could let go of the hurt. It is a hurt so deep that even years later I still think about some what regularly. And it isn’t the ending of things that hurts, it isn’t the fact that it didn’t work, its what I went through well I was involved. It is the compromises I made that I never should have, it was what I allowed to happen. I still will not allow myself to feel like a victim because I made bad choices, no one forced my hand. I may have been influenced, yes, but I could have been stronger. Maybe the struggle is with myself. Maybe the person I need to forgive is myself. I have never thought of this situation from that perspective…

The person I think I am really mad at here is myself. I chose not to call the person out at times when I knew I was being lied to, I chose to cave in times when I should have fought, I chose to do things that are outside of who I am and what I OK with, I put every other relationship in my life at the time second to this, and after finally finding my strength and walking away, after finding happiness on my own for 10 months I gave in the second the opportunity presented itself. I went right back into it even after it was clear nothing had or was going to change. I compromised everything for nothing. I have never been more ashamed of myself.

I do not wholly regret the person, there are good memories there too and I know there is good in this person. I just regret what I allowed to happen and the bad decisions I made repeatedly. I know now that is not love.

This is the first time I have ever opened this box this far and I am glad I did. I guess what I am looking at now is no longer the person but myself. How can i forgive myself so I can finally move on?