the processing continues
May 2, 2015 § Leave a comment
So now that I am back in active writing mode I find myself more conscious of when I am triggered by current environmental conditions to have an emotional reaction that is informed by past indignities. My emotional reaction is out of synch with the current situation and it causes me a great deal of emotional work.
I don’t have to go far back to find current triggers. For example, I opened up my laptop and checked my email. There is a thread pertaining to my brother’s recovery from cancer surgery. In his latest post he informed us that he had gotten a clean bill of health from the cancer surgeon and was not going to need to undergo a course of radiation.
I wrote back, “Great news! Thanks for all your hard work to heal and get healthy!” To which he responded, “Thanks Irrational Persistance…but actually Brother1Wife’s the one who did all the hard work!!!” I felt vaguely uncomfortable with his response and identified that, once again, my contribution elicited a correction. This is a pattern with the family, that my contributions are dismissed, invalidated or, in this case, corrected, because whatever it is that I am contributing, there is something wrong with it.
The next family member to post on the email thread was my youngest brother, expressing that he was thrilled to hear of this development. To which Brother1 replied with thanks and asked about Brother4’s progress on building a new mast for his boat. This is also typical, that Brother1 would manifest interest in Brother4’s progress, but did not have the wherewithal to express interest in any of the large projects I am working on (dissertation, house renovation, reactive dog training, etc.).
Now, every time I open my email I see that thread, and the list of congratulations coming from other family members, none of which are corrected because they got their congratulations wrong.
It is a family pattern that 19 years of recovery has been unable to change. I can expect this kind of treatment coming out of the blue at any time. On the surface, the actual incident is minor and no one else would notice. But it does perpetuate a family stereotype and it is now in the email thread. I have no way of eradicating it. I can’t delete it from the thread and so, with each new email of congratulations on that thread, that correction gets perpetuated in the family discourse.
Ugh. Kind of makes me sick to think about it. I have tried setting my email to delete all family correspondence but I found that was also an unbelievable emotional burden, to grieve the loss of family that I must delete correspondence because any connection with them is going to bring these old pains to the surface.
So, my task is to continue to recover from the injustice, and to transcend the mental illness that pervades my family and makes it re-create these conditions over and over again. It is I who must be the bigger person, if only to protect myself from the casual cruelty of family patterns of relationship.
And now, for my next trick, I am going to pull out the vacuum cleaner and clean up this floor from the front door to the back door. I am going to attempt to put my house in some sort of order even though it appears impossible at this moment. In this way I can process the pain of the past and apply that energy to making right in the present. I hope that I can stop perpetuating family systems of emotional denial, mental abuse and relational dysfunction to the next generation.
Really, that is the only way to make sense of this at all.