I am fortunate that I slept last night. I wasn’t sure I would when I laid down to attempt it. An unexpected rise in the OPD [Other People’s Drama] levels in my life occurred on an order of magnitude sufficient to rouse my PTSD, and it hit me hard and derailed my pleasant evening.

I find myself making a funny face in response to calling it ‘unexpected’, when I consider the source; some people are OPD embodied, and once identified the only thing unexpected is that I found myself mired in it again.  It’s morning, though, and I did sleep, and my coffee is hot and tasty… it’s very tempting to stand in the patio doorway and shout into the dawn “You have no power over me!!” It would feel good. It would feel affirming. It would feel powerful. It would be dishonest – because I sit here, even now, concerned for my traveling partner and how he is treated by an entirely other human being than myself, and struggling to let it go. Truly, it’s not my relationship, not my drama, not my experience, and realistically I know the healthiest thing for me is to trust my traveling partner to take care of himself and make the best possible choices that meet his needs over time, and simply be here for him if he turns to me for help.

It’s hard to stand by and watch someone I love being chronically mistreated. I sometimes find myself feeling guilty for leaving a bad situation, myself… I know what long-term abusive behavior can do to one’s heart, mind, and soul – and there’s nothing of value to be had from that experience, besides leaving it behind with lessons learned. It is, of course, my own perspective on things, and because I have been more severely abused in other prior relationships and bear witness quite personally to the damage done, my testimony itself may be suspect – I am damaged, and it colors my perception. This doesn’t make me ‘wrong’ or ‘incorrect’ or lacking in ability to share my experience then (or now) – but it gives people who want to doubt me quite a lot of basis to support their doubt if they choose to. That’s more OPD in the making right there; putting doubt in my path as a sort of mirror of damage reflecting into another mirror of damage, and me sandwiched between defending my perspective and wondering what’s real.

I know some things from experience. I know leaving an abusive relationship behind doesn’t result in immediate cessation of suffering, nor guarantee healing – there are verbs upon verbs, and much practicing to be done to return to a state of wholeness and wellness. I know living in the context of abuse and mistreatment has literally no positive qualities to be had – and that people who are abusive may or may not ever change their behavior (or their intent), and whether they do or not, the damage is done. I know that I alone have the power to choose to walk away from being abused – and no one, however close to me, can make that happen, or ‘fix’ what doesn’t work on my behalf – and I know this truth is quite true for everyone who chooses to love someone who mistreats them. However much I love my traveling partner – I can’t rescue him from being mistreated in a relationship with someone else. That frustrates me, and the process of ‘being there’ for him when he needs emotional support re-exposes my own wounds, and my PTSD symptoms flare up with all the potential to wreck my experience – in spite of having walked away from the most recent direct source of that particular sort of chaos and damage. I know that my first order of business is taking care of me; I can’t be there to provide support to those I love without putting my own oxygen mask on first.

The lingering after-effects of emotional or physical abuse are quite lasting for me, reaching out from the distant past to strike me in my  present, taking me by surprise when I think I am safe. “You have no power over me!” is what I want to shout to the demons in the darkness – if I do, they will titter in the background, amused by my presumption; they are as powerful as ever, and every single day of joy I experience is taken from them by force: force of will, force of good practices, force of good choices, and the utter necessity to choose to turn away from them (whoever embodies them in my ‘now’) willfully again and again. The power they don’t have, though, is huge; they do not have the power to choose my response to their existence, and they do not have the power to determine my actions. I am free to continue to choose to walk away from OPD, and to decline to be mistreated; that’s always mine.

I don’t say much about the other person involved in all this, and with good reason; that person is not here to speak up in their own behalf, to offer mitigating information, to clear up misconceptions, or offer perspective – and we are each having our own experience. Most of us wander around fairly cluelessly hurting others, not by intent, but generally out of inattention, lack of skill in relationships, bad habits learned in childhood, or because we understood things differently after filtering reality through our own chaos and damage. I’m not sitting in judgement on someone else’s shitty behavior; I am entirely focused on taking care of me, learning from life’s curriculum, and distancing myself from people who mistreat me. I am distracted from those tasks by my concern for my traveling partner, and his experience…and I got sucked into the OPD by mistake last night, in the process of supporting my partner with kindness, compassion, and a ready ear, that’s all.

Enough.

Enough.

It’s morning, now, and I got the rest I needed last night, and woke feeling comfortable, rational, and content. It’s hard to want more than that, and it is more than I expected when I laid down to sleep last night. It’s enough.

Please take care of you, today, people – you are worthy of your very best care, your best treatment, your best manners, your greatest kindness. Please treat others well today, too; we are each having our own experience and you do not know what demons someone else may be dancing with in the darkness. (If your only way to treat yourself well is to treat others poorly, you’re not getting how this works – just saying.) Treat the people you love as if you love them; they deserve 100% of the best you have to offer the world, always.  It’s never too late to stop mistreating people, applying Wheaton’s Law is a good start.