When I was 15 years old, I always wondered why nothing made sense. Most of everything that time was hypocritical in my mind. I was in pain because my parents and I couldn't find a middle ground to understand each other. They couldn't understand why I behaved the way I do, so different from my siblings or from them. I challenged them and I asked questions all the time pertaining to their values. I didn't do any drugs, smoke or drink alcohol. My only bad habit was asking the adults around me, difficult questions, which to them, in that culture was a challenge to their authority. So they retaliated back by saying things like, "I am medically crazy", "I am the black sheep", "I will never have a family of my own and friends" and many more that sparked not only anger but feeling of betrayal and confusion.
As I got older, I've always asked myself the question "why am I here?". In some ways the answers gave me direction of where to go especially on my hardest days. Sometimes that answers gave me hope. Yesterday afternoon, as I was re-opening this blog, I asked myself, why did I experience all of that pain? I feel better now, and I am so much healthier now but what was the purpose of going through all that pain. Pain that started in my childhood. Pain caused by people I looked up to and felt loyal to. Pain from people who I expected to protect me. Was it to share my stories later in life? Help someone possibly? It was a simple question sent out to the universe.
Later that night, as if the universe was so in a hurry to answer me, my husband came home and told me that someone close to him has confided in him that I did something to her. I was shocked by the accusation. It wasn't an accusation that has a slight possibility of stemming from a misunderstanding. I was accused of being this person so opposite of who I am and what I stand for that even my partner couldn't understand how this came about and where all of this started. I quickly recognized it as a fabricated lie to make oneself feel better, just like before. She has done this before to me and to others. Naturally I was in pain immediately. The pain was of magnitude, I was physically shaking. Yet it quickly turned into anger within minutes. Then within an hour, I felt something too familiar.
I felt betrayed. Betrayed because I was helping and being supportive of her problems. I gave her suggestions on how to cope with her problems to give her hope. I didn't tell her what to do. I suggested as I wanted to give her hope. I racked my brain for words to console her. I went out of my way and took more courage to stay silent and to listen so I could be supportive. Yet in the end, because of shame towards her real situation, she turned it around as disrespecting her. If I challenged her that day when she was feeling low, I could say, her accusation is a misunderstanding. If I said something honest to challenge her, I can give her a break that this was a misunderstanding. But it wasn't. The entire time I consoled her, I was sensitive to her feelings. I made sure I acknowledged her feelings. I never challenged her because it wasn't my place and the problem had nothing to do with me, so I carefully supported her. So why did she turn this around on me? Why did she make me her scapegoat?
My quick change of reaction from sadness to anger to calm, made me and my partner worry. My reaction was all to different this time. It wasn't my normal reaction when I feel pain. Most of the time, when something hurts this much, I could be paralyzed for weeks. I would be in bed within an hour, hiding and curled up in the dark. There would be ruminations, unsettling of my mind, and spiraling of emotions. That didn't happen.
As I lay in bed that night, I was scared for myself. Pain like that magnitude can cause a down shift on my health so quickly. I kept asking myself, how could she do this? Why would she do this? What did I do to deserve this? Why am I experiencing this? And it came like a light bulb.
It was the answer to my question that afternoon to the universe. And the explanation of why I wasn't falling apart like before. It was because I was experiencing the same feeling of betrayal like before. It did really felt too familiar. I have been betrayed before from the people I trusted. I've given my loyalty to others who have betrayed that trust. It is all too familiar. It is true, when close friends say that I give a lot to others and leave nothing for myself. The only difference last night was that, the person betraying me isn't very close. And maybe that's why I am quick to move on.
When one is in pain or feeling something so uncomfortable like shame or fear, some people would rather throw that pain or that same feeling at others than confronting their own emotions. It is easier to relieve ourselves of our own emotions by pushing the focus on others than facing our own reflection. Is it a valid excuse? Not at all. It's what makes some parents deny the truth of their children's experiences. How many stories are out there that a child shares to their parents how they were sexually abused and the parents turns around and denies that it ever happened? I've thought about this situation so many times because it has happened to me. My parents have invalidated my feelings and experiences before. I don't think they do it intentionally or maliciously. I think they did it because they can't face the fact that in some ways, whether its their own doing or not, that they weren't able to protect their own children from that pain. This is how fear looks like. This is how shame looks like.
When one is in pain, no one can ever tell you how to feel. No one can ever tell you, that your feelings are a mistake. What I have learned and hopefully will always remember that all of us are allowed to feel pain, sadness, anger, guilt, shame. We are allowed to feel all that. However, it is what we do with those feelings that we need to take caution of. We are allowed to be angry, but are we allowed to hurt others because of our anger? We are allowed to feel sadness, is it fair to expect others to grieve for as long as we do ? Or feel the same gravity of sadness as we do? We are allowed to be scared and feel fear. Are we allowed to point a gun at someone without any clear and undeniable, and deliberate provocation and proof? We are allowed to feel shame. Are we allowed to shame others back? We are allowed to feel guilt. Are we allowed to blame our guilt on others?
Our emotions are our responsibility. Not others.
No one is perfect. I am definitely not. And sometimes, it is easier to fall on that same mud that others have thrown at us. However, if we choose that easier path, after all that circus, and chaos that one has created to avoid what is real, we will come back to where we started.
I ask the universe to give me the courage to continuously do the right thing and avoid confronting her. I know the real problem isn't about me. I also ask the universe to give her courage to look at her problems without fear and shame.
“We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.” Dumbledore