Archives for posts with tag: gas-lighting

You’re not a fish, but for real; don’t “take the bait”, online or in life. Breathe through the moment. Let it go. I know, I know, easier said sometimes, and there are definitely verbs involved. It’s so hard to let go of that urge to “correct a misconception”, to push back on an obvious falsehood, to “set things straight” when we feel wronged, played, or manipulated. The reaction, though? Following through on that urge? Yeah – that’s generally the entire point of baiting someone in the first place; getting a reaction.

Doesn’t matter if that troll is a loved one, a friend, a family member, a colleague, some random stranger in some unexpected moment sliced from a generally low-drama life, or even the person in the mirror. Doesn’t matter if the moment of provocation is online or “in real life”. Do not take the bait. You’re not a fish, so don’t become a meal. lol Don’t feed the trolls in your life and you will likely find they wander off to aggravate someone else. For real.

…Besides, just letting go that whole mess, include one’s own desire to be “right” in some specific moment, is a huge quality of life improvement, generally. ūüėÄ It does take practice. Sometimes you may need to simply walk on from that entire relationship. That’s a thing, and trust me, it’s fine. Better than fine. Personal loyalties don’t need to become a lifestyle of self-sacrifice to benefit someone else’s emotional agenda at your expense. Treat others well, and also insist on being treated well, yourself.

To be clear, none of this is about our feelings – emotions are a very personal and subjective experience. You have yours. I have mine. That person over there has their own. None of it is subject to argument; we are each having our own experience. That said, emotions and thoughts are very different things, and the common habit of beginning sentences about thoughts with words about feelings is quite misleading. It’s a poor practice.

The content of our thinking may very well be subject to scrutiny, and we may quite reasonably be asked to reconsider it. It makes sense that our thoughts, once shared, will be dissected and analyzed, and discussed in the context of whatever shared understanding of reality is possible for human primates; we learn from each other. Behavior goes even a step further; not only are our actions subject to scrutiny, there are requirements that we behave within the boundaries of implicit and explicit social contracts, and we are responsible for, and¬†accountable for, our actions. Our behavior is a willful matter. Our behavior is built on choices and verbs. We aren’t free-falling through “accidents”, “mistakes”, and “happenings” – we’re making choices, and enacting our will. If you’ve done a thing once, and others have objected to it and alerted you that your behavior is not welcome, or that it is objectionable, and you do not change it, it’s no longer appropriate to say it was any sort of mistake, or in error; you are now acting deliberating to achieve that objectionable result intentionally – because you do know. The outcome has been demonstrated to be your intention, and saying you didn’t want that? It’s a lie. Ouch.

Don’t be a troll. Treat your loves well. Hell – just treat other people well, generally. Why would you not? No, I’m seriously asking you this – what possible reason could you have to deliberately treat others poorly that you think justifies that acceptably? (If the knee-jerk reaction is “well, because they…”, I have to wonder why you give that person so much power to undermine your progress toward being the human being you most want to be…? Then I’m going to back away slowly, and walk on. I have other work to do becoming the person I most want to be, myself.)

I’m over simplifying, I know. Some of those trolls in our lives are charming as hell when they aren’t trolling us or treating us poorly. Pretty promises. Pretty lies. Just as we extricate ourselves from their bullshit, they flash us a sincere looking smile, say something kind, give us something nice, or explain how sorry they are and how they didn’t mean it at all. Yeah… doesn’t change a thing, it’s a cycle of poor behavior. We know, don’t we, that the wheel continues to turn. Let go. Walk on. Allow them to be truly accountable for their actions, even to the point of losing your affection; their promises are not worth the real-life misery. Trolls are trolls. Do not compromise your values or your boundaries. Your choice to stay and feed the troll? Also not a mistake, once you know you’re doing it. Take better care of the human in the mirror, for fuck’s sake, this is your life. Live it well. Respect your own boundaries, yourself.

I finish off my coffee with a contented smile. It’s early. I woke well-rested but feeling a nagging anxiety in the background. I poke around my conscious experience for a moment or two, just checking in with myself when I notice the “anxiety” has lingered in the background. Is it the choice of music? No… it’s just arthritis pain; the headache isn’t as bad this morning, the arthritis is worse. lol The subtle shift in sensory experience specific to my pain feels a bit different, and I feel somewhat “anxious” because of it; it’s not really anxiety. It’s just pain. Well okay, I can deal with that. I change the playlist and head for my yoga mat. There are verbs involved.

…It’s a great time to begin again.




[Oh hey, I’m talking about emotion and domestic violence in this one. No surprises. Please take care of you. <3]

Think about this carefully; anger doesn’t solve very many relationship problems. It’s not that anger is “powerless” – it isn’t. It’s a dangerous force for change, particularly in the context of lost self-control, lost perspective, and a righteous sense of entitlement, possession, or justification. Tragedies happen by way of uncontrolled rage. Clearly, anger can be quite powerful. “Violence never solved anything” is both true and false – and very much dependent on what we mean by “solved”. If we end an argument with violence, we’ve ended the argument certainly, but whether that counts as a solution depends on whether everyone walks away undamaged.

There was a time I didn’t understand emotional violence as violence – primarily because I lived in a messy tangle of both physical and emotional violence, served up with a hearty helping of military life, as well as gas-lighting. Emotional violence was the least of my worries. I didn’t understand my experience. I lacked the emotional intelligence to understand that I had options – and choices. It’s hard to look back comfortably on the choices I did make. Like a barefooted journey across hot asphalt and broken glass, every step did more damage. I lived with continuous fear and anxiety. I rarely slept. The emotional violence in my relationship was the least of my worries; I just wanted to survive the physical violence. I eventually got out of there, safely away, and sadly still unaware of the worst of the damage that had been done, because that wasn’t physical at all.

Physical injuries heal in a physical way. Bones mend. Scars fade. My arthritis follows me everywhere, but as a consequence of earning my freedom from fear it is a reminder that I live…still…it fucking hurts. I never forget how I got here. Tomorrow is 22 years since a nightmare ended. I ended it. I walked on.

…I took the chaos and damage with me…

The worst of the damage was emotional. I didn’t understand that for a long time. I understood “symptoms” – complex PTSD has many – diagnosis in hand, I recognized that I seemed to have no ability to manage my emotional volatility, as a symptom – as something that happened to me. I didn’t understand how accountable I actually was for my actions, though. I didn’t really “get” that like it or not, when my feelings become choices that become actions that affect other people, I am responsible for my actions. There’s no argument there, so just don’t. “Hormones”, “PTSD”, “a terrible headache” “a tough day” – none of these things actually make it okay to be emotionally violent with someone (most especially and particularly someone I say I love). I didn’t understand that I could – no, seriously, I totally mean this – I could choose to behave differently. My experience is my own. My emotions are entirely mine to feel. My choices are mine to make. I am responsible for my actions. Not one moment of personal misery really excuses treating someone else badly. ¬†I was slow to learn this lesson. I carried the violence forward into my future with me, woven into the damage I’d survived, and expressed it as uncontrollable impotent rage, meltdowns, tantrums and frequent loss of rationality. I’m done making excuses for emotional violence – few people die in a literal way from emotional violence, but the life they are left with is changed. It’s really not okay to behave that way. (Nope, PMS, PMDD, they don’t excuse it either. Get help. Make amends. Say you’re sorry, for fucks sake. Do better over time.)

I’m glad to be moving. Escalating domestic violence next door is uncomfortable to live around. It fucks with my head when I hear the yelling through the walls, the slams and bangs, vague and undefined. There are no good guys. Only human beings unwilling to choose differently and calling it “love” (it isn’t).

Look around. There’s a lot of that going on. We can choose differently. All of us can do better. I can. You can. That person pulling out a gun on the highway to shoot a teenager can choose differently, too; they chose their actions. Think about what that means. Feel your feelings. Behave well. Treat others well. Recognize the subjective nature of your emotional life, and don’t inflict weaponized emotions on other human beings. Fuck your hormones. Fuck your PTSD. Fuck your anger. Care. Care enough to choose better behavior. Care enough to be the person you most want to be. Care enough to seek help if you need help. Care enough to take care of you – well. Care enough to take a step back from a difficult situation. Care enough to understand that each of us is having our own experience – and it’s ours, not to be taken from us. None of us belongs to another.

I say that, then sadly spend minutes contemplating the very real continued existence of slavery and violence around the world. I don’t really know what to say. I am saddened by the constant awareness that there is so much violence loosed on the world. That we wear the face of our own destruction, as a species.

We can all do so much better to treat people well than we actually do. What will you do today to become the person you most want to be? We become what we practice. What are you practicing?

It is a very quiet morning. The keyboard ‘sounds loud’. I park my mechanical keyboard and opt to use the soft quiet keys of my laptop, typing with the most delicate touch I can manage. I am alert and a bit sound and light-sensitive today, and recognize it is something to be aware of as the day wears on. I don’t often get such a good opportunity to get ahead of my issues this way. I even have a good idea what the drivers are, this morning. Hello, PTSD-as-residual-of-domestic-violence. It can be a complicated experience.

I am not surprised that I am faced with managing my symptoms; my traveling partner is spending a great deal of time here, struggling with his own challenges, needing more than usual emotional support, frustrated, hurting, and understandably angry with the use of emotional weaponry in another relationship. It’s too easy to let his anger, the emotional experience itself, resonate with me; he does not ‘deserve’ this, I often find myself thinking. While that’s true (I mean, who does?), it’s counter-productive to providing emotional support. I practice listening deeply. I practice compassion. I work on finding a comfortable balance between soothing the hurts, and providing requested input without making it about me – this is sometimes complicated by my reliance on metaphor and comparison to similar experiences I’ve had to gain understanding or clarity. I keep practicing. I definitely need the practice. This isn’t mine to ‘fix’.

I began re-reading The Four Agreements. “Be Impeccable With Your Word” is most specifically the agreement I am reading, although… it’s the first one, and I’ll read the entire book. I am re-reading it for a refresher and deeper understanding of the first agreement, “Be Impeccable With Your Word”. I think of other experiences in life, other relationships, and of finding myself on the receiving end of some angry accusatory tirade in which some practice or way of thinking, recommended in the self-help aisle¬†has been launched against me as a weapon. I remember also¬†a tense, peculiarly cathartic sight of ¬†young, angry, 20 -something, literally throwing a self-help book at the face of a partner in a public argument – a public moment of a human being lashing out directly at another human being physically – screaming “it’s a self help book, you asshole!” I had almost burst out laughing with understanding. We can only ever work on ourselves, really.

Being impeccable with my word, The Four Agreements makes clear, is not about ‘telling the truth’ precisely, or about ‘keeping promises’ either, well… not only those things. It’s vastly more complicated, subtle, and nuanced. It is a favorite practice of mine, and my own understanding of it is as a fundamental statement of mental and emotional purity, as in ‘don’t fuck with people’s reality, and especially don’t do that on purpose’. Lying counts, so does misleading someone with great care through choice of language or use of misdirection. Explicit expectation setting on which there is not intent to follow through is also a failure to be impeccable with one’s word. Then there is name calling, beratement, judgement – yes, even that; the things we say to people can cause them great pain. We all know it. Sowing discontent is another way to undermine the impeccability of our word. Mean jokes, too. Even just being irritable and cruel. Yeah…basically, the idea is that language is a powerful shared tool for human primates akin to actual magic. Being impeccable with my word is a practice intended to keep me on the path of treating myself and others well. (I may not say out loud the words I use to/about myself, but those count too.)

I breathe through my increasing irritation about how my traveling partner is treated in another relationship; I can’t fix it, and it’s not mine to fix. It’s hard to be on the sidelines watching someone use their words as weapons against someone so dear to me such that he is further hurt, further tested. I contemplate my own similar experiences, the choices required to take care of myself. I know there are verbs involved, and that it is a journey with many choices. It’s hard to watch, though. I find myself puzzled why more people don’t recognize that they are crafting their own hell-on-earth with the way they mistreat people they say they love – hell, the way they treat people generally. Sounds a little judgmental when I see the words hit the page. I return my thoughts to my own experience, my own actions – things I can affect directly through my choices. I am human. I can do better, myself. I observe in moment of cynicism, that this is one of the great challenges in a human life; I acknowledge I can grow, change and do better – a lot of people do – and then there are others, seeing that acknowledgement and replying through their own choices and actions ‘you go right ahead working on you, thanks, you owe me that and I’m not changing shit myself, so… yeah’. ¬†It’s a thing. It’s frustrating – and more. Still… this is my own journey, my own path, and although there is immense power in the words used aggressively or wickedly by others, I don’t have to drink the poison. I can choose differently.

I hear the wail of the morning train not so far away. My cup is empty of even the last cold swallow of coffee. I feel the chill of the room sitting in a soft cotton camisole and wondering where I left the sweater I chose to wear to work. I feel a moment of gratitude that my traveling partner has such a good heart. It is a lovely quiet moment, this one, filled with opportunities to embrace the best qualities of my experience, and build my day on that foundation.

Today is a good day to walk my own path, and use my words with care, kindness, compassion, and awareness. Today is a good day to listen more than I talk.

Today is a good day to walk my own path, and use my words with care, and compassion. Today is a good day to listen more than I talk.