Friend or Foe?

Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, is quoted as saying:

No person is your friend (or kin) who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow and be perceived as fully blossomed as you were intended.”

Emotional abusers silence their victims with threats, promises, and sometimes even affection and gifts.

Sometimes they declare that family members do not care. There might be just the teensiest bit of truth to the claim, but this may also be an attempt to silence those who could help.

Know who your true friends are in your life. Family members who refuse to listen to you when you try to speak up about abuse are not true kin. Real family cares about and for one another.

Here is another question to ask yourself:

Who controls the dialog in your life?

Who writes the narrative?

Who speaks the loudest?

Finding one’s voice can be likened to taking a journey on a long and winding road.  Envision the mountains of Italy and the roads filled with switchbacks.

The feeling of getting nowhere can be overwhelming at times. The view doesn’t seem to change as you progress. You are making progress.

Keep using that voice.

Earning the right to be heard — controlling interactions

I had a situation last fall with one of my sons where another family got involved.  They handled the whole situation badly — in other words, in their eyes, I was not necessary to its resolution even though I was the parent.  One of the parents hung up on me after we spoke (we were fine while she did all of the talking, but after I started speaking up it all went downhill), neither would then return my calls, and I was treated with general disrespect and rudeness.  This is a Christian family. I have news for you: Christians are just as messed up, if not more messed up, than non-Christians (oh wait, you already knew this).

I received a very, very long letter from one of these people today.  Here’s the thing:  I read the first sentence and stopped.  It was not, “I’m really sorry for being rude and disrespectful to you.” So I folded the letter and put it back in its envelope and stuffed it in my book bag (I was in my mythology classroom waiting for class to begin).  I didn’t give it another thought until I was driving home.  Remember, I do a lot of thinking in the car.  I thought and I thought.  I came to a conclusion:

I do not owe this person a moment of my time.   I do not owe her a hearing.  She still has never asked me for any input on the situation, over and over again contradicted my own knowledge of facts on some continuing issues (this is one reason I am considering a career in the law — like attorney law, not cop), and has not shown any remorse for her behavior after five months.  Why, oh why would she write me a letter?  I haven’t read it, so I don’t know.  She has not earned the right to be heard by me.

Yep, I made a decision.  I might read this letter someday, but right now I do not have the emotional energy to deal with her.  I do not owe her a hearing.  I owe her absolutely nothing and that is what she is getting.

I decide who gets a little bit of my very small, sometimes very fragile emotional reserves.  That is a part of my power, and I am holding onto it while I grow a little more powerful, a little stronger, a little less fragile.

She has not earned the right to be heard by me at all.  Not at all.

P.S. A year ago I would have read the letter right there before class began, let it suck me in, upset me, and dominate me.  I am learning more and more about boundaries.  I feel like this is a big deal for me.

P.S.S. I have decided that Americans are extremely rude (yes, I am an American so I can say this).  Oh, that pride.