Writing to Heal

“Emotional upheavals touch every part of our lives,” Pennebaker explains. “You don’t just lose a job, you don’t just get divorced. These things affect all aspects of who we are—our financial situation, our relationships with others, our views of ourselves, our issues of life and death. Writing helps us focus and organize the experience.

Our minds are designed to try to understand things that happen to us. When a traumatic event occurs or we undergo a major life transition, our minds have to work overtime to try to process the experience. Thoughts about the event may keep us awake at night, distract us at work and even make us less connected with other people.

When we translate an experience into language we essentially make the experience graspable… Making a story out of a messy, complicated experience may make the experience more manageable.

“…one day they may be talking about how they feel and how they see it,” he says, “but the next day they may talk about what’s going on with others, whether it’s their family or a perpetrator or someone else. Being able to switch back and forth is a very powerful indicator of how they progress.”

 

According to Alice Flaherty, a neuroscientist at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, the placebo theory of suffering is one window through which to view blogging. As social creatures, humans have a range of pain-related behaviors, such as complaining, which acts as a “placebo for getting satisfied,” Flaherty says. Blogging about stressful experiences might work similarly.

 

So, it seems that I might as well blog about the whole sorry mess.

After all, it’s become very clear that I’m not going to get any satisfaction any other way.  And I’m told I need to figure out some way to “deal with it” on my own.

So for now at least, this is it.  And it seems to be helping, so I expect to continue with it as long as I am feeling a benefit.

What do you want to bet that if anyone in my family ever reads this blog, suddenly those rules will change?  That I will be told that this is an unacceptable way for me to deal with this?  That those who have washed their hands of me like Pontius Pilate will decide after all these years — YEARS — that they DO need to get involved?  And those who have now refused to discuss the situation with me any further will suddenly have an urgent need to lecture me about what I shouldn’t have done?

Maybe they should go and say those things to Joe and Susan first.

Or maybe it is simply too. fucking. late. for. that.  Maybe they will just have to find a way to deal with it.

The Truth Is The Truth

Born into a war and peace
Forced to choose between a right and wrong
Each man kills the thing he loves
For better or for worse
Face to face with a ragged truth
Mixed up and torn in two
And turned your back on the only thing
That could save you from yourself

WHERE WERE YOU HIDING
WHEN THE STORM BROKE
WHEN THE RAIN BEGAN TO FALL
WHEN THE THUNDER AND THE LIGHTNING STRUCK
AND THE RAIN AND THE FOUR WINDS DID HOWL

After all time building up
Comes inevitable knocking down
(ONE BY ONE )
Comes receivers liars gamblers
Pick pocket entourage
(TWO BY TWO)
Selling out is a cardinal sin
Sinning with a safety net (THREE BY THREE)
They say that all things come in threes
Here comes the third degree

WHERE WERE YOU HIDING
WHEN THE STORM BROKE
WHEN THE RAIN BEGAN TO FALL
WHEN THE THUNDER AND THE LIGHTNING STRUCK
AND THE RAIN AND THE FOUR WINDS DID HOWL

All cards are marked
And all fates will collide
The truth is the truth
Or the truth is surely a lie
Get back in your shelter
If you can’t come down off the fence
And one more question
Where were you?
Where were you?

WHERE WERE YOU HIDING
WHEN THE STORM BROKE
WHEN THE RAIN BEGAN TO FALL
WHEN THE THUNDER AND THE LIGHTNING STRUCK
AND THE FOUR WINDS DID HOWL
WHERE WERE YOU HIDING
WHEN THE STORM BROKE
WHEN THE RAIN BEGAN TO FALL
WHERE WERE YOU HIDING
WHEN THE STORM BROKE
WHEN THE RAIN BEGAN TO FALL
WHERE WERE YOU HIDING

FOUR
WINDS
HOWL

Why I’ve Given Up

Because this family is, in a word, unhealthy.

Because they aren’t going to change.

Because I’ve learned there are other ways for people who love each other to treat each other, and I like the healthy, nice, ways better.

If someone loves you, it should feel like they love you.

Because I’ve tried explaining, over and over, and they just won’t listen.  They won’t even try to listen.  My sister refuses to “get involved”.  Joe and Susan are simply right about everything.  My oldest brother refuses to talk about it with me any more, and my youngest brother thinks yelling at me is the way to fix things.

And you, as the codependent, try to reason with him, change his mind, or challenge every verbal assault point-by-point in hopes that he snaps out of his irrational behavior.

Maybe this time he will understand, you think.

If I explain it to him this way, he will get it. He can’t be THAT close-minded, I’m going to tell him once more.

But the more you explain, the colder and more manipulative he becomes. He may talk to you like a child, as if you’re stupid. And you can’t even believe how a person can lack such empathy, so you explain more, trying harder and harder to make him “get it” — and the more you do that, the more it supplies his narcissistic fantasies that he is better and smarter than anyone.

I really don’t know if they CAN’T, or if they WON’T, but either way I don’t much care any more.

All the advice out there is basically summed up as this:  You can’t do anything about it, so don’t try.  Just get away, for your own sake.

If the abuser is a family member, your options are similar: approach others to see if you can get support, and stop seeing abusive/unsupportive members. Unfortunately, the great majority of families in which there is an abuser are not at all supportive of members who demand that the abuse stop, and members of these families often turn against the abused member. Dysfunctional families are irrational and incapable of meeting requests for healthy boundaries, and no contact with some or all of the family may be your only option. If… the abuse is not seen through, not looked into, or you’re not taken seriously, then the problem, like with abusive families, is a deeper and more systemic one, and leaving will be your best option, no matter how much you may have wanted… otherwise.

I’ve gone no-contact with most of my family of origin now.

Ironically, me taking the healthiest option left to me is also being criticized by my family, and I am now at fault for “being distant”.  Well fuck me.  They don’t like it when their scapegoat leaves.  Don’t worry, from what I’ve learned, you can still blame me for all the problems, even if I’m not there.  Hell, Mom was able to continue to blame Dad for shit she pulled 20 years later, so what’s the big deal?

 

 

From healthy to toast…

See if you can guess where my family is on this continuum!

  • Something is broken, we know it’s broken, we can fix it right away and we’ll learn from it.
  • It’s broken, we know it’s broken, we fixed it, don’t worry, but we learned nothing, it will break again, I’m just doing my job.
  • It’s broken, we know it’s broken, but we don’t think we can afford to fix it.
  • It’s broken, but we don’t know it’s broken.
  • It’s not broken (it is, but we’re not willing to admit it).
  • It’s broken, we may or may not know it’s broken, but mostly, we don’t care enough to try to fix it, to learn how we could fix it better or even to accept help from people who care.

At one point we kind of did the second one: we “fixed” it (by writing a half-ass apology, by getting angry and writing nasty emails, telling me it was all my problem, etc).

Now things are solidly in the “toast” end.

Seth Godin writes about marketing, but I find his posts to be relevant to many more areas of life.  This list was brazenly copied from “Different Kinds of Broken Systems“.

But What Will They Think?

One of the things I thought about before I started this blog was, “But what will they think?”

I mean, who cares what they think?  They obviously couldn’t give less of a damn about what I think.

For a while I kind of resigned myself to the idea that while writing a blog would be therapeutic — and would get me back into blogging, and maybe even building the new website I’ve been putting off for 4 or 5 years now — and might even be fun — I wouldn’t REALLY dare do it, because of what they would think.

I’ve obviously gotten over that part.  😀  And I need to get past the impulse to be considerate of people who don’t return the favor.

But — what WILL they think?

Well, I can guarantee that their first reaction is either going to be all about them:

OMG what if someone I know has seen this?

How dare she!  How could she do this to us?

or, it will be invalidating:

Is she STILL going on about that?  It happened years ago!!

She still can’t get over it!  How pathetic is that?

 

Here’s some ideas on what I wish they would think, but they won’t:

Maybe she has a right to be angry at us for letting her down so badly, at the one time she really needed support.

Maybe we should listen to her.

Maybe we should have done something before now.  Maybe it isn’t too late.

 

I’ll give you a hint:  I can do this, in just the same way Susan and Joe were able to do what they did to me, and the same way that everyone else passively, easily, let them do it.

And some of them even asked me, or told me, that “I needed” to continue being a good little scapegoat, because that’s what is easiest for everyone else.  One even tried to guilt me into it by suggesting that Dad would be disappointed in me.  IN ME??  Holy shit.  Dad would be a helluva lot more disappointed in Joe, and he’d be mad as hell at Susan.  (Of course, that is because my dad really loved me.  That is what is missing from the rest of the family.)

So what.  As if I owe that bunch a damned thing, after what they have most definitely (a) done to me or (b) not done for me.

I DARE any of them to tell me that I can’t do this, that I am not allowed to do this.

They should have told Susan and Joe that.  I’ll be damned if I let them say it to me and not them.

 

They aren’t healthy people.  In a healthy family, one where people actually cared about each other, and cared about ALL the family members, the elders or the leaders would have talked to everyone, gotten everyone together, straightened things out — they would have done whatever was necessary and they would not have looked for the easiest way out for themselves, nor given up and just let it happen.  They would not allow an in-law to abuse a sibling, control what happened after, let it fester for a dozen years, and just hope and (certainly) pray that it will all blow over, that I will continue to let them get away with it.

They would not pretend that the issue is between me and Susan and Joe, and no one else.

They would not steadfastly refuse to “get involved.”  If they cared at all, they would WANT to get involved.

They would not have noticed me becoming more and more distant, and then instead of asking themselves whether they had done anything to contribute to that, or asking me what is wrong, complain to each other about how distant I’ve become.

I’ve made it very clear what the problem really is, and I believe they are not actually capable of dealing with it.  Either that, or I have to believe that they just don’t want to deal with it, even if it means they lose their little sister.  To them, that is less of a price to pay than to do the right and healthy thing.  They learned these “coping skills” from our mother:  to worry about themselves first, assign blame anywhere else it is possible and safe to do so, and passively pray for a resolution, instead of getting up off their knees and fucking doing something about it.

Untitled-1It’s not as if they haven’t had the tools to do so.  I sent them a fucking diagram of why people become distant.  They are smart people.  If I can do the reading and the googling and learn why things are as fucked up as they are, they can too.  If I can spend the money and the time to go to therapy and learn what is wrong with this family, they can too.  After all, they are all older than me, so they are automatically superior.  They can figure it out, if they want to.

They don’t want to.

They don’t want to.

They might tell themselves and each other all kinds of excuses as to why they “can’t”, but the truth is, they won’t.

That sucks for me and it’s painful for me, but it’s easy for them and it’s true.