I was raised by people who did not believe in apologies or examining of their behaviors, deeply rooted in a sense of perpetual rightness. Why change when you are already right? Noticeably Affected People were expected to independently get over whatever it was that bothered or wounded them in the first place–Quit being so sensitive and rehashing the past. Sheesh- It is tiring to walk on eggshells with her every time she is dismissed or diminished. Unreasoanble. The system elected secrets and moods as stand-ins for boundaries. There was no positive regard for vulnerability, healing, and emotional and moral maturing.
Repression and outbursts are how
anger rage has been handled for generations, in my FOO. Oh–And denial. Not once can I recall witnessing someone approach me or another to express something along the lines of “Hey, when this happened, it upset me or made problems for me, can we discuss?” OR “Hey, when I or said or did X, I was angry and that was hurtful, I would like to work to restore trust between us.” There was silence, then retaliation, more silence mixed with weird exaggerated laughter as proof that all was good and fun–for the unbroken. Always lacking in the values and practices of reflection, humility, compassion, empathy.
These patterns still reign today, in my FOO and with my ex who share the commitment to this style of anger denial/management. Anger, I am told is a secondary feeling, a reaction to sadness or disappointment, which we are not able or willing to face. In my family of origin (FOO) hard feelings are not to be honestly or directly acknowledged– for doing so– is reserved for the weak and defective–as the whole and the right are not burdened in these ways.
I went to bed last night, agonizing over a boundary with my ex, because old programming insists that my boundaries are actually grudges. Since his triangulation with my sister, I request that he remain in his car and text when he arrives to pick up our sons, who greet him in the driveway. Why would I allow an abuser inside my home, my place of rest and recovery? This is not retaliation or mercilessness. This is healing.
Reading Henry Cloud’s: Boundaries I am relieved by his words: “Regarding abusive relationships, it is healthy to guard your heart until there is evidence of sustained change. It is ok to limit togetherness in the name of binding evil.” Evil seems an outrageous, over the top term. But anyone who knowingly chooses to do harm, by definition, is a doer of evil: an abuser.
My refusal to invite that or make myself available to that, is part of spiritual maturity and healing. And this, as my only option, angers me. Because the truth is, I long to be able to allow the father of my children into our home and to welcome him into the family and friends we enjoy and love–for holidays and birthdays– and for any reason at all. I suppose my anger is part of the grieving of what is not to be. Subjecting myself for more, will not fix or heal us. Tried it one too many times. The data is consistent. I have expressed my continued willingness to do the work of healing. The offer goes dismissed, with my ex as with my sister. They really are two peas. Actually my ex says he wants to but does not know how. So, there is that.
What my ex and my sister did, divided my children not only from extended family but from the possibility of having two parents –unified to support them at the highest level. My children’s happiest days were those spent with US, after divorce, working together. I grieve this loss.
The only mercy I can offer around this, is to my children– through less expression of my anger over what their father chose repeatedly to do to us, TO THEM. My sister has no real skin in this game. More than half our lives were spent not speaking. I would like reconciliation with her but do not need it. For my children, I would do literally anything to improve the quality of their childhood– it is shaping them forever and is passing quickly.
As for my mercy tattoo, I will continue to admire and rub it and be reminded to practice mercy. Just as the tattoo will not magically transform me, neither will graduate work in ethics and morality. These are things I choose, to deepen my connection with powers greater than myself–my spiritual striving.
I am pained by evil in the world, behaviors which pass for acceptable or un- punishable, but which are wrong/hurtful/damaging–morally and ethically out of line. The ability to do a thing and get away with it does not make it good or even okay—while right and good is frequently found objectionable and punished. Extreme examples of this are reflected in the persecution and elimination of Jews vs. protecting them under Hitler’s reign AND in helping slaves to freedom and fighting for and speaking up for equality. I really don’t get it or maybe I do get it, but do not accept it.
Why is it that moral and ethical behavior toward people, animals, the planet is not mandated or at the very least taught as part of basic education? Am I here on this earth to learn to accept the unacceptable or to work for change- to be the change I wish to see in the world?
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