Wednesday, January 30, 2013

If You Allow Me to Say No, I Will Likely Say Yes

I took a day off.  Sometimes when all you can think of is digging a cave, lining it with something warm, and hibernating like a bear, it is time to take a day off.

Bears have it lucky.  They get to eat all summer and get fat.  Fat is good.  They are allowed to growl at anyone who interferes with them. Then, when cold comes, they get to crawl in a hole and sleep all winter long.  They give birth to babies who are the size of a lima bean IN THEIR SLEEP!!! and get to sleep while the baby nurses and grows.  Then when they wake up, the sun shines, and they get to eat and get fat again.  That is a good life.

But we can't all be bears.  Sadly.

I did, however, take a day off.  I slept.  I phoned a friend who can let me cry and talk without getting all bent out of shape about it since they know where the tears come from and that I will calm down and answer myself if just listened to.  Then I slept some more.  Finally, I did my research and contacted this person they want us to go to.

I always do research.  Always. 

I think he is ok.  I don't know if he can handle what needs to be handled, but I think he can try.

But talking with a friend is good.  Because it is hard for me to trust this organization that we work in.  One of the leaders has seriously screwed up and really hurt me.  For eight years.  Years ago, when I was debriefing with a blogger friend who helped me finally tell my story of a traumatic experience, and I had too many characters to talk about, I decided to give all three men a name - "Tom", "Dick", and "Harry".  It made it easier to talk that way.  So we dubbed this man "Dick".... it made me laugh, and sometimes in extreme pain, some humor goes a long way in helping to cope with it.  So, we'll call him Dick again.

I've blogged about Dick before.  About how difficult it has been to live and work in a situation where you are not believed and no one stops what is happening.  Where people tell lies and believe lies and don't stop and check their beliefs.  I wrote about the aftermath of the trauma and how Dick and his wife were incredibly harsh and uncaring and hurtful at a time we were deeply wounded.  I still struggle when I think of that time, and generally just refer to it as "the shark attack" in my mind.  I've blogged about my struggles to work out forgiveness and how to exist on a team with Dick when he has shown no awareness or remorse for how he has been.

I think I was in a good place.  An accountant helped me once in a long, boring speech about the school books.  Some families hadn't paid for years, and that debt sat on the books and looked bad.  Finally, they decided to write it off.  To write off old debt, to label it as uncollectable.  That is it, I thought.  That is it.

See, I had worked through many types of forgiveness.  Forgiveness of someone who did something that you will never see and may never be held to account. Forgiveness of a unbeliever who wronged you.  Forgiveness of someone who really hurt you, but comes and apologizes.  These all have a template, a way of doing it.  Different, each of them.  But I had no template for forgiveness of a believer with whom you had to continue in a relationship with who is on-goingly hurting you, will not listen to a grievance, and is not going to be held to account.  It wasn't a situation where there would be a restoring of a relationship.  That requires action from both sides.

But I couldn't live with the hurt - I didn't like who it was making me.  And I had to daily chose to treat Dick out of who I am, not in reaction to who he is... or more accurately what he is doing.  I just didn't have a template for that - not until that boring accounting meeting.

Write it off as uncollectable debt.  As a bad debt.  He'll never pay it, and I realize that, so I stop expecting it to be paid.  I take the pain it caused and eat it.  Not expecting an answer for it.

Does it mean there shouldn't be an answer for it?  No.  I still believe that the mission should correct Dick's behavior - not to ease my heart, but so he doesn't repeat it.  They probably won't, and I don't live in expectation of it, but it would still be the right thing to do.

But I was at peace.  I could see Dick and his wife, treat them cordially, seek to meet his needs, and work in a peaceful environment with him.  I don't greet Dick or his wife with a hug like I do most other people in our setting, but those are my personal limits.  I am, above most else, a fairly honest person.  I don't feel like hugging Dick, so I don't.  I don't need to.  Besides, I'm fussy about who I hug.

Until the other day.  Life changed.  When my husband blew up, and it was suddenly obvious that there was an anger problem, a group met to decide what to do.  Dick was part of that group.  All of a sudden, I have a group working and talking and planning about us, and Dick is part of that group.  That moved him from a co-worker that I can peacefully exist with to a person that I was by default forced into a trust relationship with.

Uh, uh.  No.  There is no trust relationship.  Forgiveness does NOT automatically imply a trust relationship at all.

And I reacted to that.  No.  Do not force me into a trust relationship with someone whom I know has not earned that trust.  And I was basically told that I have to be in that, that I have no option as Dick is team leader here.

I've learned not to be so much of a push-over.  I said no.  Again.  It is entirely possible to work in a situation without creating a trust relationship with him.  Yes, it might not be the normal way to do it, it may be unusual, but it can be done.  And it has to be done.  I will not work in a "healing environment" with this man involved in either the decision-making or the information-recieving end.

I don't think the people I was talking to got that at all.  So I felt pushed, hurt, and betrayed.  I should be allowed to be safe from Dick.  I do not need to be forced into trust situations.  The more you try, the more I will react.

I'm an incredibly open, honest, and generally trusting person.  Ok, I will watch you before I trust you.  I will be open, and watch your response, but generally, I will default to trust.  I like people.  I'm strong enough to trust people and survive if they fail.  I didn't used to be, but I am now.  If you ask me a question, and I have to chance to be open, honest, and vulnerable, I usually will be.

But not with Dick.  See, if a person has proved over time and more time that they are not trustable, I will not trust them.  It is very hard, if impossible, to regain trust. And any attempt on Dick's part to have trust would need to start with an honest apology and the willingness to listen to what his actions have cost me.

I'm not an unforgiving person to have those borders around my heart.

And I felt that people were pushing me to cross those.  So I reacted, and I cried for two days.  Then I slept today. Today was better because I spoke to someone who knows my history.  They can (which I knew they could, but just they didn't feel like it because it would be awkward.) take steps to ensure I am not forced to be open, trust, and reveal information to Dick when I don't want to.

That is all I wanted.

So I am more at ease now.

You don't take someone, especially someone with abuse in their past, and tell them that you are in charge of who they will trust and that you won't allow them to set boundaries in their lives.  You don't force them into relationship that they are screaming against - no, don't do that to me!

I have to be allowed to say no.  No sharing my personal details with someone who has deeply hurt me with no remorse or awareness.  No putting me in a room and allowing my husband to vent his anger on me "just to find out what is at the bottom of it."  Usually, if you allow me to say no when I have to say no, I will say yes to everything possible I can say yes to.  But I have to be allowed to say no.

So I contacted the person they are thinking of.  I told him I had two concerns - the two above: no sharing information with Dick and allowing me to say no to staying and listening to anger.

That was ok.  Actually, the man was flabbergasted that anyone would want me to sit and listen to a man when he is out of control in anger, and says he would never allow that.

We'll see.  I'd like to say I believe him, and I do, but I'd like to see it in action.  Sort of like those videos at work where they say if an Alzhiemer's patient gets out of control, you are to use this position to gently and firmly redirect him to a different location.  Yeah... it works well on video, but in real life.... well... I've been beat up, slammed into walls, and almost had my head bashed into the cement walls of a shower stall.  Oh, and the ex-blacksmith with the huge hands that grabbed my arm and said he was going to break my arm and began bending it....  (all we were trying to do was wash his diaper that he had soiled, but he likely had a past of being sexually abused, and well, poor guy...)  All the video techniques don't always work, and sometimes you get hurt.  So while I believe the man's intent, I am not sure if he actually can when faced with full blown anger.  We'll see.

But I am calmer now.  Sleepy.  My tummy is relaxing, and I may actually be able to get some food into it.  Stress, for me, is very slimming. :)  It's Wednesday today, and I think the last meal I got into me was on Sunday.  I'm drinking, just not eating much.  Food hurts my tummy when I am stressed.

Keep praying.  I know there is a core group of you out there who've been through this with me for years.  There are two new people in this group I wish I knew more about - Joyful and Anonymous who wrote me a beautiful letter about teaching my kids to "hurt well".  That was so encouraging, and on days when I feel like giving up and worry about them, I go back to that comment and remind myself that I can be a good mom in the middle of this minefield.  I wanted to blog about her letter, but so much has been happening that I've been swamped.  But just to say, I will not give up, and I will keep choosing to live, to choose joy, and to survive.

Even if I have occasional melt downs. :)

I'm that type of person that deals with impending crisis by dealing with all the emotions and fears first.  I'm fine in things, but not in the looking forward to them phase.


Joyful said...

Praying. xx

Anonymous said...

Still praying.