Highs and Lows

During self-imposed exile to the basement, I watched a couple of movies that I’d wanted to see for a while but just hadn’t put forth the time and expense to go to the theater. The first was Baby Driver, which is one that I will watch over and over, running the first 20 minutes on repeat. I recommend that whatever you’re watching right now, ditch it and see this movie. You’re welcome.

The second is Call Me By Your Name, and I have issues.

In Italy in 1983, the age difference of the two young men was completely legal… but it sent shockwaves of anxiety through me because it just didn’t seem ethical. It wasn’t the age difference that bothered me. Seven years isn’t noticeable at all when one partner is 30 and the other is 37. It was the timing. The younger of the two men was 17. The older, 24.

Keeping in mind that I have no leg to stand on when it comes to talking about ethics, the movie tapped into some of my deepest and most memorable scars. If you’re post-college, no matter what the age of consent may be, I’m still not sure you have the right to mess with a teenager’s feelings, much less have a short summer fling with them and leave them in tears… then call back a few years later only to say “I’m getting married… is that okay with you?”

If I had known that’s what the movie was about, I wouldn’t have watched it in the first place. I’m trying to get those pieces of scar tissue stronger than they’ve ever been. Therefore, I would never intentionally trigger myself back into that place, because it’s dark and twisty there.

The thing I’m so much better about now than I have been in previous years is snapping myself out of it. I have learned tips and tricks for changing my own mood, and I use them. The axiom is true that hurt people hurt people, so even though I am not entirely rid of pain, it’s at least manageable. What I Know for Sure™ is that I never want to be in a position where I’m speaking from a place of pain to people that don’t deserve it. I’ll never be able to get mad at the one who does, so my work to do is making a thunderstorm back off to rain, then sprinkles, then partly cloudy. I don’t think that anyone whose been hurt in a similar manner to me would say that we ever get to sunshine, because even with all the coping mechanisms in the world, there are still triggers that make moving pictures dance across our minds as if no time has passed at all. Then, the moment passes, and all is right again.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me it’s an indication that I need to change course mentally when I feel it physically. A knee-jerk reaction to a trigger is generally a headache or feeling like I’m going to vomit. It’s so attractive.

The thing that is altogether different now is that I recognize what is happening rather than wondering what it could possibly be. A major part of being angry and, in turn, stuffing it down into my socks is that I couldn’t articulate what was going on.

It was legal. But it wasn’t ethical.

I had issues.

Standing Outside the Fire

My Kindle Fire has a slow processor. Not a big deal, except when I started it this morning, I clicked on my WordPress app and it said that the SD card where I’d stored the application wasn’t available, and I needed to re-download it. At roughly 0600, I am slow on the uptake, and I started to panic. Almost immediately, I thought, “JFC. I’m going to have to go back to factory settings to fix this thing.” Because that’s what I do. I get enough of tech support to last my whole life when I’m working. I don’t fix my own computers for shit. I keep everything in the cloud and on a 3 TB backup drive so that if anything goes wrong, I am free to wipe any device and just start over. It is my go-to answer for anything and everything.

I realize how ridiculous this sounds, especially since I am really good at troubleshooting problems on every operating system imaginable. But think of it this way…….. when I was working in a restaurant, the last thing I wanted to do was come home and cook for myself….. and that attitude has lasted for quite a while. I would much rather run on sandwiches/not dogs, snacks, and Cheerios with yogurt than stand in front of the stove. Part of it is indolence. Part of it is that meals have ceased to be an event. I need fuel, not fancy. When I got that through my head, my whole attitude toward food changed.

When I cook, I want to use all the classic techniques I’ve been taught, plate beautifully, etc. That pretty much means a thousand calories more than my computer ass needs…. and that’s a thing. My musician friends call it piano butt…. although I am sure that playing the piano is much more of a workout than playing the keyboard…. or maybe not, since I type 80 wpm on a bad day (let’s be clear- I type that fast when I’m thinking, but not nearly as fast when I’m copying something that can’t be cut and pasted, like a document….. and I’m too cheap to pay for good OCR software).

Speaking of documents, for one job in which I applied, I have no idea why, but they wanted a copy of my driving record. I ordered it over the Internet (not cheap), and it came with password protection. In order to upload it, instead of using OCR, I just printed it and rescanned it to a PDF. The encryption wasn’t hard, just my driver license number, but what employer wants to go through all that shit?

In case you’re wondering, and I’m sure you are, I haven’t had a wreck or a ticket in three years and three months, which means everything on my record has fallen off for insurance purposes. That may change with this latest wreck because I was ticketed for failure to control my speed, which basically means I wasn’t speeding per se, just going too fast for that curve since it wasn’t marked. And paying the city back comes out of the property damage part of my insurance, and I don’t know if that adds points to my insurance or not. I’ll have to ask my aunt, because even though she doesn’t write for Maryland, it would be easy enough for her to find out.

That being said, I have no plans to get a “new to me” car anytime soon. This is because when I am forced to walk everywhere, my depression fades into the background without having to buy a gym membership. Even the Y is expensive…. although I can’t help it. I saw on a Facebook image a copy of the application for the Y, and when asked how the client heard about the YMCA, he put The Village People. I am driving that into the ground for all eternity. Every Y application I fill out. Every. Single. One.

When DDD (Darling Dangerous Dana) and I lived in Portland, there was a YMCA that had pay as you go. It was like, $3.50 a visit. So perhaps I will call them and see if they have the same deal. I think it would be fun to walk to the Metro and back (about four miles) and then get into a hot tub almost as large as a swimming pool. My bathtub just cannot compete.

Walking downtown is infinitely easier than taking the bus. That is because the bus that picks me up at the end of my street (closer than the school bus when I was in elementary school) only runs about every half hour or so, whereas the bus that runs along Hwy. 29, Colesville Rd., runs every 10. However, in order to get to the direction toward downtown, you have to cross that busy highway in front of drivers who rarely, if ever, notice you at the crosswalk. I have almost been hit a number of times, and Franklin Ave., the crosswalk that has a light, has no sidewalk down to Colesville. I run the likelihood of getting hit either way, unless I manage to catch the 14. That bus is rad, though, because one direction goes directly to the Silver Spring Metro stop, and the other way goes directly to Takoma Park, where my favorite restaurant is located about three blocks away, Busboys & Poets. There are many in the city, but Takoma Park is so easily accessible that I’ve been to very few of the others. Taking the Metro is paramount, though, because parking is so limited Jesus might come before you get a space. It’s one of the few places I took my mom while she was here, so I also have that memory to tie me there… even more so that she liked it and thought it was cool.

The other thing that made me so happy is that she didn’t rent a car while she was here, because she wanted to see how I got around and see how my life really worked. We took public transportation everywhere, and it was so much fun to, for once, have someone sit next to me on every trip for a week. The only thing that went wrong is that my mom and I almost got separated on the Yellow Line, and I got stuck in the doors trying to keep my mom from wandering off without me, because trust me when I say that she was directionally challenged and being separated would not have ended well… especially since I didn’t have time to tell her to just wait for me in the station because the next train was only four minutes away.

They finally noticed me an opened the doors again in order to keep me from riding with half my body outside the car…. but I often wonder what would have happened if they hadn’t. #gozoey

Kevin Spacey. Gotta talk about it. You knew I would. Talk about standing outside the fire. That bastard blamed his behavior on drunkenness and gave every evangelical Christian in the nation reason to believe what they already do….. that pedophilia and homosexuality are the same. Luckily, there are less people on that bandwagon than there used to be, but how DARE he.

In the Catholic church, no communion wine is allowed to be left over at the end of the service. It’s like blaming raping an altar boy because the priest had to celebrate five times in a row.

Gay people aren’t predators. PREDATORS are predators.

Once more for the people in the back………

GAY PEOPLE AREN’T PREDATORS. PREDATORS ARE PREDATORS.

If you read the story in its entirety, Spacey got this kid alone (classic looking for a target) and then got on him like white on rice before this kid even knew what was happening to him.

Well, there goes watching Glengarry Glen Ross again.

Maybe Kevin Spacey should just GO TO LUNCH.

Standing inside the fire, because go to hell. I’ve spent too much time with too many narcissists to think you’ll ever change, and I won’t even give you the benefit of the doubt. You can share a table with Sam Adams, Bill Cosby, Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein, Woody Allen, and Mark Saling.

You can all deal with the heat together… and if, by some chance, hell freezes over, I hope it’s still cold enough to burn your skin off.

This is where I say the part where I’ve gone into my “nothing box,” and my actions will never meet up with my angry words. I’m not going to slice off their heads, but I for damn sure am going to fantasize about it…..

Standing outside the fire.

Sometimes

Sometimes I wish my mother hadn’t died. The reason I say only sometimes instead of all the time is that there isn’t a damn thing I could have done to save her, and there’s not a damn thing I could do to bring her back. Therefore, thinking that every day is just a way to drive myself crazy, and if the past is any indication, it’s not that far a trip. The flight attendants don’t even have enough time to bring out the drink cart.

I’m still waiting for what Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant call post-traumatic growth. It’s possible that it’s happening already, but because I talk to myself every day, I don’t see the changes that come over a year. I can look back at past blog entries to get an idea, but it’s not the same. If I look back by reading, it’s almost as if what went on happened to someone else. It’s been the best way I know how to forgive myself… having the deep knowing that I would forgive this foreign person much more easily than I’d forgive me. It’s how I’ve gotten through every bad thing that’s happened over the last four years. It’s become clear to me that I can’t atone for every wrong, but I can pray and change my behavior accordingly so that I don’t make the same mistakes again. At the very least, I can move on to make new ones. Perhaps that is the post-traumatic growth I’ve been looking for in the first place. I am learning to give up on perfection and become satisfied with excellence…. because perfectionist anxiety is crippling.

For instance, I wanted to be the perfect wife and friend. I ended up behaving so badly that I didn’t even recognize myself. My moral compass became smashed glass and metal on the floor, and I had to learn how to fix it on my own, without any YouTube videos, Google searches, or even card catalogs. Though therapy is helping me cope, no one gets better only focusing on themselves and their goals for one hour a week. It has been backbreaking, mind-bending work to get back to the person I was before I started vomiting up the emotions surrounding emotional abuse that as a teenager, I didn’t recognize or even have words to explain…. with the added bonus of being sent to therapy and, not wanting to get anyone in trouble, danced around every issue; I talked for an hour without saying anything. Therapy as a teenager was something I was asked to do; it was not anything I would have chosen on my own.

That being said, I had to take a battery of multiple choice tests that revealed just how broken and screwed up I was, because I couldn’t figure out how to outsmart those. So, my therapist knew exactly how worthless I felt, exactly how low my self-esteem really was, and exactly how much I needed them. And yet, you can’t help a little old lady across the street if she doesn’t want to go.

However, those emotions couldn’t stay locked down forever… and it only took 23 years. Finally talking scraped off every scab, and cut down into fully-formed scars. I didn’t so much get over anything as stuff it down and pretend it never happened. I didn’t know it at the time, but moving to Portland was just an opportunity for it to be proven to me over and over that really, nothing happened, and I was crazy to think so… to the point where I would swear on a stack of Bibles that it was gospel truth… because why would anyone who claimed to love me so much cover up truth like that? I exhibited every symptom of trauma. I was coached on what to say. I was told that my past was just this big bag of shit I’d been carrying around forever, and I needed to just let it go…. but as anyone who has lived through emotional trauma knows, it’s impossible until you find the problem… that not letting go is not a function of not wanting it to happen.

It’s a function of reliving what happened over and over and over and over ad nauseam because you can’t figure out whether what you think happened or not. Confusion wracks your brain because gaslighting causes you to doubt your own version of events, your truth. Your intuition battles your programming, as if you are living with a 3,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. It’s just one rumination after another…. this big bag of shit you carry around forever and just need to let it go…. but it’s the emotional equivalent of telling someone with depression to snap out of it. Well, Jesus H. Christ. I wish I’d thought of that.

In a way, though, I did snap out of it. The atomic bomb has dropped, but I am still working through the repercussions. I liken it to a local band that’s been together for 15 years being called an overnight success. In my case, though, it’s the reverse. There was a snap of recognition, and then a therapist who told me it would take five or ten years to really feel well…. and even then, it would be a lifetime of choosing healthy patterns in order not to fall back on old, damaged ones. All of my relationships have fallen prey to them in varying degrees, which is why it has been essential for me to create brand new relationships with the new context I’ve been given; my past is not a factor and I cannot be reminded of it from people who didn’t know me before…. when I was completely in the throes of grief, rage, and poor impulse control.

Poor impulse control is a function of ADHD, but compounds exponentially with trauma, because especially when fear presents as rage, you cannot give yourself enough time to weigh consequences and form measured responses. The phrase even keel is not even in your vocabulary in those moments. Cortisol and sin races through your brain because you do not have the ability to second guess. I’ve talked to too many people who have gone through this scenario to know that I’m not special. In terms of fight or flight, trauma-related rage doesn’t even present flight as an option. In those moments, you’re just a loose cannon unfocused on a target, often choosing……………. poorly. You can’t even tell yourself to calm the fuck down, and God help anyone who decides to say it to you.

But most of that rage boils down to one thing; I have to push you away because I am not worthy of your time or energy because I have the capability to destroy you with my pain, even when you say you can take it and there’s no way I can mess you up. This is because in almost every case, you can’t get angry with the person who deserves it. They disappear and leave you to sit in your own tangled knot, because surely they’re not responsible.

While it is true that adults often abuse each other, the most insidious type of abuse is emotional between an adult and a child, because the child automatically believes that whatever is happening is their fault, because the adult is in a position of absolute power and control. Moreover, if no physical/sexual abuse happens, there is no clear message that anything wrong happened at all. I would never say that it is worse than raping or hitting a child. I would only say that it is more muddled and confusing because there is no line in the sand to go back as an adult and say you are definitely sure someone stepped over it. Many, many, many children have had their childhoods taken away earlier in much more horrible ways, and my heart bleeds out for them. But there is also no such thing as competitive suffering.

It’s not the same boat, but it’s the same ocean.

Emotional and physical abuse present with the same symptoms, much like addiction. Symptoms of addiction are the same whether it’s to drugs, alcohol, gambling/spending, food, or sex. I would compare addiction to food and sex to emotional abuse, because it’s harder to figure out addictions to things you need to live a healthy life vs. things you can do without. You need the right amount of food and sex in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Looking at the pyramid, I haven’t seen the right amount of cocaine yet.

If I extrapolate that into emotional abuse, I crave connection without abusing or enabling, codependency or projection.

In terms of how wishing my mother hadn’t died when she did works into all this is that she’ll never get to see me as a truly happy adult…. thriving instead of barely surviving for years on end…. or worse, just flat-out lying about how I was feeling in order to Suit Up.™ At the very least, I was able to take off the mask for three years, but there should have been so many more. In terms of recovery, three years is the blink of an eye.

Which is exactly how fast I lost her.

How to Even Tag This One…..

I haven’t heard anything from Blackboard, and I’m starting to get very frustrated, because of all the companies I could work for in all the world, this is where I straight up belong. Helping Scott and Andrew set up the Academic Technology Support Center at University of Houston was one of the greatest years of my life. Scott even sent me to University of Minnesota for a WebCT conference, complete with nine inches of fresh snow on the ground, and I learned more in that one weekend than I did in five weeks of trying to teach myself. At first I thought I’d end up becoming an instructional designer myself, and got to do a little bit of that with Evangelinux and again going out on my own with Udemy.

I haven’t posted anything to Udemy yet, and will let you know when it’s available, because I have an issue I need to clear up first. I have to figure out how to evade online pirates, who will download your videos and take your course for free, offering it to others through direct download and torrenting.

If I can’t figure out how to do it on their server, I might be interested in offering it on my own. To do that, though, I’d have to move to a real server space rather than WordPress.com, because apart from a small donation button, they will not allow you to make money. I understand- they’re giving you server space for free. If I moved to another server, I’d be able to have more control with scripting, etc., plus be able to use things like Google AdWords. Now, you don’t make much with Google AdWords, but at the same time, you make more than if you can’t use it at all.

The idea of the course is Linux for beginners, using desktop recording software and voice overs. I have more than one idea, because I think people need to know how to use the command line, because typing is so much faster than searching through menus to get simple things done. The second idea is talking about replacements for all the software you really need. For instance, it is just not worth the cost to spend money on Windows, Office, PhotoShop, etc. when similar tools are available for free, and often open source, so that if you’re a programmer, you can customize everything to what you need with no legal penalty… even with Linux itself. Microsoft is just beginning to get on the open source bandwagon, and there is no way they’ll ever release the entire source code for any of their flagship products.

Quick tip for PhotoShop users… there’s an open source image software called GIMPShop (a mashup of Gnu Image Manipulation Program and PhotoShop) that changes all your keyboard shortcuts to the same ones you’d use in PhotoShop, therefore cutting the learning curve in half. Maybe I should have saved that for my own tutorial, but there you have it. The first one’s free.

I only lasted a year at the ATSC because I was promoted again to Internet/Intranet Developer II. Back then, it was so much easier to be a web developer because we were writing all our own code from scratch rather than having to make our web pages talk to databases, one of the major changes in web development over the years. Cascading Style Sheets were about as sophistocated as we got. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s a file that you reference that is similar to creating styles in Microsoft Word. Basically, you separate out all the content from the formatting and put the formatting in this one file that works across all the pages in a particular site. That way, if you want all your headings to be in a larger/different font, you change one file rather than manually having to change every heading on every page… which, back in the day, was as excruciating as it sounds.

This is another reason to change to my own server space, because on WordPress.com, all the fonts and everything are controlled by the theme. If I upgraded to WordPress premium or whatever, I’d have complete control of ALL THE THINGS. But I still wouldn’t be able to do everything that needs to be done in terms of protecting myself from illegal downloads…. or as much as I can, anyway. Surely there’s got to be some kind of Digital Rights Management for personal web sites… which wouldn’t stop a hacker if they were really dedicated, but would definitely stop the lazy ones.

But for most of you, this post is probably unbearably boring, because you don’t want to hear about WebDev and all that computer crap. You come hear to learn about what I’m doing and how I’m feeling and how I’m interacting with others, along with how I’m dealing with soul-sucking grief.

The short answer is that I’m not.

I’m burying myself in trying to find a job, trying to push myself to create my own courses to have income I don’t have to watch, anything to get away from having to think or feel anything that doesn’t have to do with business. I have done so much feeling and thinking about everything that I’m getting tired of it. I’m tired of feeling down ALL THE FUCKING TIME. I’m tired of feeling that I don’t deserve joy because I am enmeshed in grief. I am tired of feeling guilty when I receive said joy because I am “supposed to be” in mourning.

I am tired of worrying about what Dana & Argo and anyone else I’ve pissed off thinks and turning my attention to those who do show up. Because honestly, what good is it doing me? They’re never coming back and it is wasted energy all the way around. I’ll never be able to say enough, do enough, be enough to erase the hardship I’ve caused both of them. “You’ll never amount to anything” and “we’ll never be normal” are beginning to be it for me. I say “beginning” because it’s just my personality to overthink and overworry and carry that shit around for years on end… because not only do I owe them a hell of a lot more from me than they got, they’ve stopped listening and they did a long time ago. Even when I am being dead-level honest, they don’t believe it, anyway. It’s not my job to judge whether they should believe me or not. That’s their decision, one in which I’ll never have control (and shouldn’t). But what I can do is try to stop thinking about it, try to stop caring so damn much, try to love them in a loopback that feeds me and keeps me going rather than expending energy trying to “win” them back. I can’t undo or redo the past, but I can take the lessons I learned and turn them into something beautiful in their names… because I cannot and will not forget the gifts they gave me along the way. It was a long road to stop thinking about all the negativity and toxicity and just breathe, taking in the wonder of their prayers and presence while I had it.

Just because I erupted and crazy spatter and emotional vomit rained all over them due to forces I thought were literally beyond my control doesn’t mean that I don’t take full responsibility for it. Notice that I said “forces I thought were beyond my control.” They weren’t. I just didn’t have any coping mechanisms and everything I was feeling made me go off like a loose cannon, saying and doing things completely contrary to who I am, because my emotional abuse lasted so long that when I finally accepted it and started moving on, there were….. casualties. I said things I’ll never be able to take back, acted in ways I never thought I’d be capable.

Because I had no way to stop it at the time, everything that was heaped upon me was heaped upon them… mostly because I couldn’t confront the person with whom I was really angry…. and it isn’t as if I didn’t try. I tried with a passion I’ve never felt before or since. It left me full of despair and rage for which I had no safe outlet, and chose the most unsafe of all…. two people who loved me beyond all reasonable measure… or at least it seemed that way to me, because I didn’t think I was worthy of that kind of love. It surpassed all my understanding…. and because I was not healthy, of course I chose to go after this dysfunctional, unstable, disaster of a relationship rather than relying on the healthy patterns I’d developed with Dana, and later with Argo. And, as all emotionally abusive relationships inevitably end, I blew up like a firecracker because it was SO UNFAIR.

It had never been fair, but I didn’t know any different. I wandered further and further from myself, my values, my personal compass as I tried to release the thunderstorm that had been raining on my head since 1990.

In the words of Dooce, it sucked and then I cried.

It sucks that I’ll never go back to that time in my life, because both relationships ended with our bridges burning in effigy. How could they not? At this point, it doesn’t and shouldn’t matter what I want, and they are two completely separate things in each relationship.

With Dana, it would be the ability to have stayed married through the storm, knowing it would pass once I returned to my old self. But you never go back to someone with whom you’ve had a physical fight. She started it and by God she was going to end it. I’ve never been hit harder in my life. I do blame myself for escalating things emotionally and not running away before it got physical… but I don’t blame myself for getting hit, trying to defend myself, and it ending….. poorly.

With Argo, it would be to erase the words that cut me like a knife, that “we’d never be normal.” It would be her contacting me as if everything was okay and yet, it was CLEARLY not. It would also be the chance to thank her in person for emotionally whipping my ass, because it got me back on the road to wholeness. It would be the chance to give and receive hugs that last a second longer, because it might do more good than an apology in black and white. It would be a chance to know the whole package rather than the people we presented to each other- only the sides of each other that we wanted the other to know. It could never be a do-over, but a begin-again. It would be to know forgiveness rather than remission.

For the non-Episcopalians, remission of sin is erasing it like it never happened. Forgiveness is recognizing the wrong and reconciling it.

I’m at a point in my life where I don’t want to cover anything up. I want my friends to love me even though I am hugely flawed, because I’d do the same for them.

I am starting to find those friends, or rekindle friendships that have been idle a long time. It is an important step in finding the next great love of my life, because if I can’t be a good friend, I can’t be a good partner.

As I rest and recover, though, there’s no place like localhost.

Tolstoy Abridged

…she had learned from experience that Need was a warehouse that could accommodate a considerable amount of cruelty.

-Arundhati Roy, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

It is funny the lengths to which we will go, the things we will withstand, when we think we need something or someone… most likely someone. Things are an achievable goal. People are moving targets of emotion. In most relationships, but not all, there is some bit of lopsidedness to it. Not everyone finds that marriage, that friendship, that boss in which esteem and respect are equal to one another.

And yet we go on, trying to please and tolerating others’ behaviors as if they are normal in order to learn their particular brand of dysfunction. As Leo Tolstoy says in Anna Karenina, “all happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” No family is immune to it- to fit in, we adjust our expectations from the ways we were raised to the way they were… because equality is about compromise, and need is ingratiating ourselves, sublimating the parts of us that are completely different so “we’re on the same page.”

I didn’t learn this from my biological family. I learned it over years and years of emotional abuse. Early and often I changed my behavior so that I didn’t rock the boat, and walked on eggshells, afraid to be myself… because when I was, it was a signal to me that I wasn’t needed anymore. Agreement meant love; disagreement meant “I just don’t know what to do with you. I can’t win, so I’ll just leave.”

Appeasement was the name of the game, and we all do it, but some less than others. Take, for instance, your work phone voice and the voice you use when you’re just shooting the shit with your friends. If “the customer is always right,” sometimes that means swallowing words that need to be said and aren’t… mostly things like “you kiss your mother with that mouth?” Customer service is the only profession I know in which trying not to fake your own death so you don’t have to go to work is a daily struggle…. because people won’t unload on the others they’re mad at, but they have no problem treating the clerk at Target or the waiter at Jaleo like that. They think it’s impersonal, having no idea how deep their words cut… because hey, they’ll never see you again.

And that’s where they’re wrong. They need you. It’s not like they’re going to abandon going to Target or Jaleo, and they’ll see you again whether you want to see them or not. As soon as they walk in the door, you remember their “kick the dog” syndrome and try desperately to find someone else to help them.

But sometimes you’re stuck, and it’s a crapshoot as to whether they’ll remember and apologize.

This same behavior happens in relationships. We’re mad about something else, and unload on the people we love the most, because we know their softest spots. Unsurprisingly, they also retreat, and if the words cut deeply enough, and apology isn’t necessary, because they won’t hear it, anyway.

Because sometimes the emotional abuse is given, rather than received… especially if that’s what’s been modeled for you long enough. Others tiptoe around you, so that you don’t pick up your toys and go home… the exact scenario you were trying to avoid with someone else. You watch as they change their behavior around you, rarely self-aware enough to know they’re doing it, because you’re doing the same thing… your own egocentricity in the way… both saying to each other “please don’t leave me. I am broken and I know it, I just don’t know how to fix it.” Just not with words.

But that’s what happens with fully-functioning adults. As a child and an adult in any kind of relationship, the balance of power is off to an enormous degree… and any perceived anger is all their fault. There is nothing within them that says “this person is treating me unfairly and I need to stand up for myself.” This is because when the child tries to stand up for themselves, it leads to witholding of affection and long, drawn-out silences in which the child takes on the “I have to fix everything” mentality. Instead of another adult compromising themselves into your crazy as you adopt theirs, children cannot begin to comprehend what they’ve done wrong.

And often, this is the root of the problem with adults who also think that every slight is their fault. You don’t get away from it, there’s no relief until you can take back your own power… and it never, ever happens in an instant. It is a lifelong process of examining why you think the way you think, because even when you think you’ve made progress, you’ll fall back into old patterns because they are so ingrained. It is a lifetime of two steps forward, and between one and four steps back. Just like one is never cured of addiction, one is never cured of codependency.

Adulthood modeled badly for children leads to future adults that cannot trust their own intuition, often relying on other people they perceive as just as damaged as they are because they know they can take a healthy person and destroy them. Sometimes it’s a good thing to share experiences, as my friend Donna calls “compatible wounds.” At others, it’s one awful pattern feeding the other with no end in sight, because neither one is aware of just how much they’re doing to excoriate good memories.

The eternal rub, the thing that makes both of you bleed, is that when you’re saying awful words to each other, it’s really just a cover-up as to how you feel about yourself. If you think you’re worthless, that’s how you’ll treat others. You don’t really think that about the other person, you’re expressing your own disgust at yourself, and it comes across as rage and anxiety… words coming out of your mouth before you even have a chance to connect consequences. If someone has treated you that way, why would you? It’s “what you’re supposed to do” in an argument. For two people abused as children, these are fights that are designed to cut both people off at the knees, mutually assured destruction in which both parties have trouble standing back up.

The craziness continues because you’re so afraid of getting “crazy spatter” on healthy people… or at least, the people we view as such… not really taking in that everyone is fighting a battle of some sort. These days, I tend to believe that there are no healthy people, only healthy actions… and, as Elizabeth Gilbert says, “I don’t know of any story of self-enlightenment that doesn’t begin with getting tired of your own bullshit.” I had to decide to get healthy. I had to decide it was time to, in the words of St. Paul to the Corinthians, “put away childish things.” However, just like deciding to come out as GLBT, you don’t do it once… you do it every day. I can’t just decide once. I will die having to make these decisions.

If Need accommodates cruelty, it is a choice to step away from it…. not once, but each and every day. I would amend that statement to say that Need only accommodates cruelty when it is based in lopsided affection, when you think you need something not meant for you. Healthy need is interdependence, not wishing and hoping someone will finally realize what you have to offer… because pro tip… they won’t. Users that make it impossible to please them will only move on to someone else when they realize they can’t get adoration from you anymore. They’ll just lovebomb someone else until they’re so wrapped up in the lovebombing that they can’t understand why it would go away, and what they did to deserve it.

“Putting away childish things” is the realization that you know exactly what you did. You took those childhood behaviors and carried them into adulthood, where they no longer serve you… but again, it’s not a realization that happens once, but every time you interact with others. You have to ask yourself if you are really happy and healthy, or in the company of others, whether everyone is just unhappy in their own way. You have to stand up and say………….

I’m not going to get into the ring with Tolstoy. – Ernest Hemingway