There are times when we press each others buttons. Some have lots of buttons to press, those we’re close to get far further in. That of course means the public face of us has one set and our private one quite another, though they may overlap to quite a significant degree. One of the reasons I’m generally relatively calm most of the time is due to having seen these being pressed in me as an opportunity to potentially relinquish them if I can see they don’t actually pertain to what’s going on, which frequently they don’t. I’ve done this because I know they don’t actually make me powerful or pertain to reality, alongside the fact they can (unnecessarily) cause a lot of anguish. When allowed free rein they can be like placing a cardboard cutout of whoever put the wounding there in the first place and once that’s happened (in a certain scenario anyway) whatever you do you see the old wounding rather than what’s actually taking place. At that point, whoevers doing it, me or them (or you and anyone) you may as well walk away because there’s a mirage in the room grabbing all the attention.
It can be quite hard to let go of these things because they seem like a protection, even though they end up being anything but, because they prevent us from seeing reality, and to change them it also requires us to turn the lens of observation on ourselves rather than outwardly, and it takes a lot of strength to do that.
I’m going to offer one of the ones I still seem to contain in order to make this more tangible. My father, who died when I was in my twenties, had a terrible temper. He never once aimed it at me, in fact I was the only person on the planet who could silence him with a sentence. But if angered he shouted uncontrollably at whoever had annoyed him. Of course this meant that from birth I heard him shouting at my mother. He’d sometimes throw things about but never did anyone any physical harm. As a child, until my parents separated when I was 7, every time he did it I would go to my room and cry. There were all sorts of reasons why but that doesn’t matter now. After he’d left every time it was quiet I could hear shouting, literally. No words, just the sound of a shouting voice. It took years for that to stop.
It hasn’t left me with a fear of anger. I’m slowly riled but once I am I can be quite deadly, and I’m not afraid of conflict. I’m happy to battle through any disagreement, in fact I think it’s important. However, the one thing I seem unable to stop is the inability to hear someone when they’re shouting at me. It doesn’t make me afraid, or angry, or even upset. It just won’t go in. I can’t hear the content at all. I imagine it’s because I was hearing it from birth, and it never had any real substance in the present with my father. I know where it came from but it had no connection with whoever he was shouting at. Logically I can say I need to hear when people shout, but on the other hand it seems to generally pertain to something other than me, some past insecurity or wounding I have no power to change. Someone raging incoherently rarely achieves anything other than potential damage to the relationship of whoever they’re raging at. So the only thing I can find to do is walk away, temporarily at least, until the situation has calmed and communication can recommence. It’s not perhaps the best solution nor a resolution of my mental block but at least it allows time and space for both parties to see more clearly, and I will not own someone’s past, be anyone’s whipping boy, nor be cast or labelled as someone I’m not, or of thinking, doing and being things I simply don’t. If anything can be defined as a complete waste of time that’s it.