When Warmth becomes Wrath

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.

fire

“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

Packing Light

Today, I started packing for my trip to see my FOO, DH’s FOO and N friends and good friends (thank you for them).  As I looked at the weather forecast for the places I will be visiting, I realised that it is exceptionally cold this time of year.  I got a little panicky as I’m not used to this weather anymore nor do I own a heavy duty winter coat.

As I started fitting my stuff into my suitcase, I realised my packing habits have changed over the years.  Instead of being worried about my clothing for cold and snow I worry more about if I’m mentally ready for the visit.

Packing for a visit to see family and friends that are dysfunctional (near or far) seems to involve some extra thought.  It got me wondering:

how do you pack for a visit or what do you take with you when seeing your dysfunctional family and/or friends?

List of extras I’m bringing:

1.  Notebook. I take this notebook most places with me today, I carry it in my purse.  It’s a place to jot down my thoughts or ideas and remember how I handled difficult situations.  I started this about a year ago and I’ll have to purchase a new one soon!

2.  Workout Stuff. It’s my escape at home so taking part of my normal routine with me.

3.  Fellow bloggers.  Well, all of you would be difficult to fit into my suitcase (as the airlines have an even stricter limit).  I’ll take with me your words and posts as I walk into battle.pack

3.  Relax time. I did schedule a hair appointment.  I think that will help.  I’m also reading a fun book, no self-help to read before bed.

4.  Fantastic pair of shoes. I don’t know why but when I wear a great pair of shoes I feel better.  Often (because of the cold), I pack appropriate shoes for the weather and they never look fantastic.  So for all the dinners and get togethers I’m wearing one of my favourite pair (and I’ll keep the bulky comfortable ones nearby 😉 ).

5. Narrowed it down. I believe I’m made good progress this year and some of the things I’ve learned are not quite at my disposal yet and often I tend to make the need to practice overwhelming and stressful.  So I narrowed it down to one thing this year.  Listening.  Even to the ones who behave narcissistically.  I have a bad habit even when I’m deliberately trying to be silent of tuning out.  This doesn’t help when I want to speak up about something.  I need to listen better.  Listen and Pause.

Wishing you a Happy New Year!

Hugs, TR