Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Important Bonds

"We are not together here... to make room for the other presence we both draw back in our minds. I have a prophecy threatening to spill into words. This growing certainty of Over. There once was a time I was sure of the bond, when my hands and my tongue and my thoughts were enough. We are the same but our lives move along, and the third one between replaces what once was love."  -Vienna Teng "Between"

Have you ever heard a song that just so poetically describes the emotions buried so deep within you, but also so close to the surface... but which you can't find words to express? I'm sure you have. We all have those songs that really resonate with us at such a specific time of life that when we hear them years/decades later we are brought right back to the core memory associated with that song. 

I'm a little rusty here, so please be patient with me. 

Some things have surfaced that are really unpleasant. I'm kind of experiencing a refining moment in my life and it's just... those moments are so hard and uncomfortable because either you let it change you and grow for the better, or you shut off with complete understanding that you are not ready to grow in such a way yet. Or you're just f*#king tired of battling. Maybe that language is off-putting, but I honestly cannot even adequately express the emotional exhaustion I feel with certain events that just keep recurring in my life. Events I thought I'd graduated from. So, that's the only word I can think of to describe my level of emotional exhaustion.

Vienna Teng is a complete poet in her lyrics. I love her music. She's always been on a playlist I have that I listen to when things just feel off in my life, but I can't place why I feel the way I feel. 

I recently experienced a really traumatic moment a couple weeks ago that came out of nowhere and it involved 2 people I deeply care about. My relationship with Person A wasn't always the strongest, but in the last 13 or so years I thought our relationship was getting stronger. In fact, it was the best it's ever been. Person B I've always been close to and we historically always looked out for each other. But as we've gotten older I've felt a shift in their perception of me. And with that shift has come this barrier where neither one of us can really breach to get to a real level, so it's... there's this formality that exists now that never did before. This change has been gradual, but I've felt it from them for about 10 years now. 

I know I've hurt these people in the past. I hold myself accountable in a way that is probably not healthy for my mental health. But, I also know that I've hurt these people in the past. And they've hurt me. But, that's not a justification, and shouldn't be for either side.

A situation happened a week ago where I was really ganged up on by these 2 people. It started over a misunderstanding on my part and I acknowledge and apologized for that. But it metastasized in a way that was so unnecessary. And I can honestly say I wasn't the one perpetuating the drama. Cruel things were said to me by Person A after I apologized for my misunderstanding (and if you knew what it was, it was quite minor).  After I apologized to Person A for my misunderstanding, they accepted my apology and then went on to blast me and tell me I'm fake, I'm a joke because I talk about being authentic but I'm a liar so I'll never be authentic. They were screaming this at me. A person I see once a year, and literally never even talk on the phone to because they busy their lives to such a degree to avoid building any real relationship with those they claim to love.

Person B, a person who for the longest time I felt was the only person who saw me told me to stop talking to them, ignored me, and when I tried to talk to them to find resolve completely looked through me like I was dead to them. Like I was a ghost. Invisible. They slammed the door in my face and then went on to tell others a watered-down representation of our private discussion that absolved them from a lot of personal accountability and which painted me as a villain. They then went out of their way to avoid saying goodbye to me. A person I see once a year. 

I've since been blocked on social media by Person B. This is after I laid down a clear boundary that until the 3 of us get help with individual therapy to handle our own life-mess that contributes to the perpetuation of our hurt, that I can't talk to them. NOT that I don't ever want to talk to them again. Just not until we've all received therapy and tools on how to have such crucial conversations. But, this person is presenting their understanding to those they discuss this with that I told them to never talk to me again. It's all in a text message. But, facts don't matter when the mind is clouded by emotion. What I did tell them is that I believe and hope we can sort out this mess in the future, but until we all get help to do so in a safe way, I have to protect myself against the abuse and gaslighting they are inflicting on me. 

I'd like to say, also, that all of this started when I was feeling emotional about a conversation that was going on that I expressed some concern regarding and didn't feel heard. So, in my emotion I misinterpreted something that Person A was saying. I needed a moment and excused myself from the conversation by calmly saying, "I'm sorry. I'm feeling strong emotion and I need to step out for a moment." This is a tool my therapist has told me to practice when I'm feeling big emotions or confusing emotions. It's a perfectly respectful tool that allows you to take care of your basic needs before engaging in something that you aren't understanding due to your emotions getting in the way. I've since learned that at least one of these people were hell-bent determined to present my exit as me yelling and storming out of the room with complete dramatic and frightening flare. So, there were 7 witnesses to my exit (including myself), and not everyone agrees with how my exit is portrayed by this person. But, perception is everything and when your perception is built upon finding evidence of how people transgress against you, then that's all you'll see. But, I digress. With complete disdain and disgust, I digress. Yes, I'm mad. 

I could go into further detail. There's a lot of it. In fact, this is a revised draft because the original mapping out the unfortunate series of events was so long I was embarrassed at how pointless the whole thing was. So, I'm sparing you the ridiculous details. The minutia of what occurred is so embarrassingly lame and underserving of the melodramatic perpetuation of the 2 other parties towards their audience. It was void of any logic whatsoever and done only to appeal to emotions.

So, what is the point of this post? The whole thing sounds so damn petty, and really it is. But, at the core, every person involved in this scenario is feeling like a core issue unique to them was being disregarded. And the irony is that the core issue is the same: being unheard and disregarded at the expense of another's right to emote louder/bigger. 

There was a time in my life when I thought I was crazy. Have you ever been so gaslighted that you start to question your own sanity? I have. And it's the scariest shit I've ever felt, and I've experienced so much darkness and turmoil that that is saying a lot. When your discernment is ignored and questioned and made out by others to be defective simply because they won't own up to their mess... you can't even trust your own mind. And now I'm back at home. Away from these people who made me question my sanity once before and which I forgave them for it. And my mind is plagued with trying to find logic in what happened. I'm looking back on every interaction and assessing it with such a self-critical (akin to self-hate) lens to find where I hurt these people and I don't see it. But, I'm trying to create it because they say it's there, but it's not there. So then I wonder, is there something so defective and broken in me that I am a danger to those I love because I don't see me how they see me?

I have literally had this song by Vienna Teng on repeat for the last week. And it's hard not to reflect on what occurred when listening to this song. It's been the modality that has given me words to talk about this experience. To go beyond the emotions and name what I feel and that is:

-Growing hurts. Acknowledging that we've hurt someone and then navigating to a place of earning that trust back is tormenting to the mind. It's a fragmented feeling. You have to make room for a new understanding. A new way. And either you make room to learn and grow or you you don't and you draw back in your mind, your self, your perception, and you sit comfortably in that existence. You custom-tailor everything you let into your sphere so that you stay protected. This is not judgment. I speak from experience. I used to avoid change. I used to sit in my resistance to change and I would fight tooth-and-nail to stay safe in my ignorance. 

-There is a certain comfort in yielding to ignorance and putting up barriers to keep the threat of change and growth and experience from altering you in the most painful, self-aware way possible. Over is so much kinder in the moment. Over is noncommittal for the time-being. Over is a reprieve from personal responsibility. Over is easy. I never said things were over. I don't believe in over.

-There once was a time I was sure of the bond, when my hands and my tongue and my thoughts were enough. I wonder what that feels like, when your self, your voice, and your mind are enough to those who matter most to you. I've never felt that before my marriage to my husband. To majority of the relationships in my life I've never felt good enough. Pretty enough. Smart enough. Loud enough to actually be heard. Mentally enough. Spiritually/Religiously enough. Capable enough. Trusted enough. Loved enough. Respected enough. I've never felt worthy enough of their love.

-At times, there is an unspoken ill within each of us that replaces what we claim is love. There is an unspoken ill in a person that would lead them to say such cruel things to a person they claim to love. At the end of the day, people can disagree or not see eye-to-eye on a situation all they want, but that doesn't relieve them of the responsibility to be respectful and humane in their interactions with others. And if you do this, it really is wrong. I used to do this. There was a time in my life where I would aim to maim because I wanted others to hurt like I hurt. That was my hidden ill. It's why I can recognize it in others.

Since I've been home and navigating the confusing emotions I have due to this experience, I've been asking my husband if I don't see reality the way he does. I've been asking him if I am abusive to him and cruel in our interactions. I've been asking him if I've ever wronged him so deeply and then made him feel guilty for it. I've been asking him if my mind is broken and I've been begging him to be honest. He has been assuring me in the ways he knows how that I'm not crazy, but the self-doubt keeps seeping in. I wonder if he is just being kind or if he is afraid to be honest because of what my reaction might be. This is the effects of emotional gaslighting. I know this on a logical level, but that is the devastation of gaslighting, you question your perception of reality.  

So, for now I hold on to small facts. To those closest to me in my life, to those who actually know me and don't find petty reasons to blame-shift their issues onto me -- I matter to them. In a meaningful way, I am enough to those who know me. It helps to hold onto this fact. It's so fleeting when staring down the abyss that your mind might be broken because those claiming to know you (but don't actually know you) are so determined to break your spirit to make themselves feel better. But despite it's frailty, it is light in the black abyss of madness and the continual pain perpetuated by others. 

And so when the darkness becomes too thick, I remember and recite to myself that to those who truly know me - my self, my voice, and my mind  are enough. I'm good enough. I'm pretty enough. I'm smart enough. I'm loud enough when it matters most and I'm worthy of being heard. I'm mentally enough. I'm not defined by my spirituality, or lack of religion. I'm capable enough. I'm trustworthy. I'm deserving of love. I'm deserving of respect. I'm worthy of kindness. Those are the bonds that matter. 

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