You know that word game, I think it is called Words Within Words? Considering my pessimistic state at the moment, I pulled out HARM and WRATH from warmth.
My former friends (Marian, Lydia & Don) and my mother-in-law taught me a very important lesson about the sudden warmth of a flame:
“Where there is a flame, someone’s bound to get burned” ~Pink (song lyrics from “Try”)
Whenever I started to pull away from unhealthy relationships – less attention, less adulation, less ‘doing’ – I ignited a change in their behaviors. They all became nicer, too nice, rather uncharacteristically so. Marian got me a gift out of the blue, MiL started sending me e-mails/messages (after ignoring mine for years) and Lydia & Don started complimenting me instead of subtly putting me down.
It felt so weird, like syrup coating my teeth. My response to all this sudden warmth was to proceed with caution (and schedule a dentist appointment). What happened after:
Marian ~ started talking about me and my projects at work to managers (telling them my projects were delayed)
MiL ~ started telling DH about her messages to me and telling him how much she was trying thereby influencing DH to treat me like I was the source of the ‘problem’ of our ‘distant’ relationship
Lydia & Don ~ only contacted us when they needed a place to stay – after not ‘obliging’ twice contact has virtually ceased
It was a period of a lot of stress in my work and personal life. The lack of genuineness and one big mess to deal with taught me that sudden acts of kindness (as opposed to random) succeeded by prolonged disrespect, disregard and an absence of mutual reciprocity are something to FEAR.
“A spark neglected makes a mighty fire.” ~Robert Herrick
My fear (anxiety) was ‘kindled’ anew after DH sent an e-mail about NO more gifts to his brother (BiL) and his wife (SiL) – Thank you for all your help. The boundary was accepted verbally. What seemed like a great first step in establishing boundaries (DH and I together) soon became a familiar scenario.
After DH sent the e-mail at the end of September, we have dealt with a bunch of odd behaviors throughout October. The first hint was very small – almost could have been brushed off – BiL brings up gifts for their father subtly.
Then, for the past few weeks there has been an abundant amount of communication from SiL. DH said:
“There’s no communication for how long and now all this stuff.” ~DH
To sum up the communication of 2014:
Before setting boundary (January – September): SiL sent us two e-mails – the first, their trip itinerary and the second, a link to view 1100 photos of aforementioned trip.
After setting boundary (October): SiL has sent us four e-mails. All e-mails are of the same type – soliciting Thank You’s. Indeed, a Thank You was necessary for two of them.
Most communication happens between DH and BiL (e-mails and phone). DH finds it particularly odd that SiL is communicating with us and not including BiL on the communication (when she normally excludes me from the communication).
All of these behaviors, on their own, are quite HARMless. And I have that rational part of my brain that says – “this may be nothing to worry about.”
I don’t know if WRATH will make an appearance in the form of smear campaigns, triangulation, etc. like it did before. BUT I would be naive not to factor in the prolonged disrespect, disregard and lack of mutual reciprocity of our past interactions (circa like 6 weeks ago). I rely on my instincts not only because of the above patterns but also because I have never experienced authentic affection, warmth or kindness from DH’s FOO.
That’s what it is really about. The sudden warmth isn’t real warmth, is it? Sending us e-mails that socially coerce us to say Thank You without extending dialogue, absent of regard for others is not WARMTH. A fire for warmth behaves differently than a fire which destroys.
The fire you kindle for your enemy often burns yourself more than them. ~Chinese Proverb