Everyone has a different version of normal in his or her brain. One of my friends had a partner who peed on her as he slept, trashed drunk. This happened four, count 'em -- four! times, and she stayed with him. You see, her normal involved an alcoholic father in her younger years. Each time the partner peed on her, she didn't like it, and she also made it somewhat ok in her brain as she told herself he was changing, that he was drinking less, that they loved each other so much it was ok to go through the hassle of wet sheets and bodies. In the end, she and he split ways and remained friends. Does he still pee on people in his sleep? Perhaps. He doesn't pee on her anymore, though.
Some of my other friends had normals that involved physical abuse. A guy I dated in high school, his mom married a man who beat him. I don't recall whether he ever told his mom about it. In my then-boyfriend's words, the stepfather was really good to his mother. He figured it was ok for the man to beat him as long as he didn't touch his mom. (!) Another of my friends used this logic in her friendship dynamic. You see, one of her friends experienced physical abuse at the hands of an eighth-grade boyfriend. My friend thought that if she took the hits for her friend, that boyfriend wouldn't hit her friend. Oh gosh, the things we accept as logic. Changing the target of abuse doesn't remove the abusive behavior.
Those of us who grow up with abuse or neglect have different kinds of normal in our brains. We see things with our perceptions, and others may not understand because they didn't need to fine-tune their brains to watch for violence or abuse as a young person. Maybe they didn't need to look after their own emotional development, either. Why do I notice when eyes twitch or people change their breathing patterns? Because, at one time, this information was necessary for my brain to feel safe in its home life. As I continue in this life, this type of attention to detail is helpful and also not always necessary. I'm not in a constant trauma mode now. Instead, I focus on feeling like I belong, like I'm in the right place at the right time. To all of you who can relate as well as those of you who can't, I wish you a safe and creative New Year's Eve. May you find that which you seek.
1/9/16 - Edited first paragraph with punctuation.
One of my friends doesn't like that I comment on her choices. Let's call her Lavender. She and I met during a group activity several months ago. We've barely begun a friendship, really. Recently, we ate lunch together and she shared that she's decided to stop commenting on the things that she hears said around her at work. I just wrote a post about how I commented on someone's use of the term "towel head" near my cube in my office, so her choice appeared to be in direct conflict to my life choice. I brought up my disagreement with her, and she told me that it makes her feel uncomfortable when I offer unsolicited comments. In my view, I said, "Hey, I don't like this," and she said, "You keep quiet unless I ask you to talk to me about this."
One thing I'm learning with both Lavender and one of my sisters is that we can have great communication skills, and that doesn't necessarily equate to each of us wanting to talk about the same topics. For instance, I prefer to talk through heated disagreements -- flesh them out, get to the deeper meaning behind the discomfort, insult, or offense. Lavender and my sister appear to shy away from uncomfortable. One says, I'm uncomfortable; and the other says, I feel too angry to talk with you. (Gah. My parents embodied this dynamic! Of course, of course. There's that pattern, I recognize it now.) This is how Lavender and my sister need to be at this time for reasons of their own. So, I send both of them love, and I keep breathing deep breaths in, deep breaths out, as the uncertainty of the purpose of our bonds develops in its way.
Uncertain and uncomfortable are two emotions that seem "bad" in this culture. They're feelings, hormone reception and nervous system interaction. They can mean different things in different situations. I read a quote attributed to Gandhi, something like, "I offer my bad side to the Great with as much grace as my good side." I like this as it applies to emotions.
After we first arrived at the strip club, I visualized EFT and tapped on my guilt. Yep, there I was, looking at women sexy dance on Christmas evening and inside my mind I was all, "Even though I feel extremely guilty about this situation, I love and respect myself." It was ...different. With successive EFT visualizations, the guilt eventually dissolved and I felt other emotions. Mainly, confused and uncertain. I wasn't sure about how to feel amidst the loud (so loud!) music, alcohol, and women who appeared to embody various emotions about their employment situation.
Our neighbor, he drank a lot. A lot a lot. Like, he kept buying rounds and didn't ask first kind of thing. I observed his behavior go from playful to antagonizing and creepy. At one point early on I playfully and clearly said to him, "Hey, Don't throw your money at her. Respect women in all situations," my right forefinger and thumb uniting in a tear drop to the right of my face. Neighbor apparently took this as an invitation and, gosh, a command to act in complete opposite to the words I spoke and the position I represented. He proceeded to shout over the music, "Hey! Hey, Meiling!" and after I would look his way, "I'm looking at only her eyes," big defiant smile on his face as the woman's posterior shook in front of him. Gah. At first, it was funny in its obvious discrepancy (he's not looking at her eyes when he's watching her anus -- hilarious!) and then it became weird that he was repeating himself. A vengeance appeared to burn in his eyes. In time, I felt mostly disgusted with his "joke." I didn't know what to say, though. We were watching women dance, is it ok for neighbor man to keep saying that to me? How do I change the situation to make it appropriate? I didn't know what to do or say. Eventually, during one of the egregious and strangely vicious, "I'm looking at her eyes," tantrum moments, my body made eye contact with Neighbor and gesticulated the OK symbol as my eyes looked to the other side. This seemed to quell the monster inside of Neighbor man. Interesting, upon further reflection, the interaction appears to have started when I brought together my right forefinger and thumb in a tear drop and ended after I brought together my left forefinger and thumb in an OK shape. Symbolism, symbolism.
My partner and I later discussed the evening and its excesses. Both of us liked being able to enjoy the performers and their performances. We applauded ourselves for being financially responsible -- cash only, stop spending when the cash runs out. He left his credit card in his glove compartment and I didn't take mine out of my beaded pouch. Neither of us liked how much we drank. Personally, I didn't like that I drove after we left the strip club. Four humans piled into the car with me and I believed myself sober enough to drive. I may have actually been sober enough to drive -- I drank five or six drinks in five hours, and I separated some of the drinks with a couple of glasses of water. Still, after we arrived at our place, I felt an immediate surge of extreme guilt and the next morning I was ready to quit drinking for a while. Sometimes my initial response to a mistake is to think of the way to completely obliterate it. The bigger challenge is balance, methinks.
Well hello there.