I am so sick of being held responsible for other people’s emotions.
That was the tradition of my family, of course. Aspergers people don’t engage their own emotions, though they have them. My father blanched at the slightest conflict, my mother was sure someone else had the responsibility to make her happy and my sister shattered with the slightest emotional stress. My brother just went off to find another emotionally demanding woman to serve, one who could tell him how he feels.
Maybe because of that training, or maybe just my own intuitive and empathic nature, I always felt responsible not to stir emotions in others, even as I was expressing my own nature.
“You are the bigger person, the more enlightened person, the smarter person,” I would hear. “Surely you have some responsibility for the fears and feelings that you stimulate in others. Why can’t you be more gracious, more appropriate, less threatening, less scary? Don’t you understand that you are just too much for other people to engage?”
Play small, I was told. Play small, or you are just asking for people to act out against you.
So many times, when I was challenging, I was written off as the abuser.
I have a friend with dissociative identity disorder (DID) and her therapist asked me to participate in the therapy. I got four or five phone calls from my friend one night — calls from her alters — and I wrote them up and e-mailed the info to the therapist. The next morning, when the therapist found a bunch of messages from me in her in-box, filled with transcripts, she called my friend and told her to tell me that I was not to use her as my therapist and never to contact the therapist again. When I sent a note saying “OK. Understood. No more messages from me,” it was seen as abuse and went unopened.
A few months later, the therapist was begging me to help her again.
I knew it was the therapists own stuff coming up, which is why, instead of negotiating with me, she just threw me into the abuser category and shut down the relationship. The problem is that when someone acts out of their own stuff, it’s still the one that they are projecting on who gets slapped.
Projection and blaming are the key blocks people have to growth, the key defences of the ego, says A Course In Miracles. Ms. Rachelle knows this well, knowing that one of the most powerful forces on earth is projection.
I hate it when I make people feel bad, even when I know that I just spoke my own truth, when I know that all I did was allow their own feelings to surface. I just don’t like to see people in pain, apart from them projecting their distress onto me and blaming me as an abuser.
But I also know that the more I play small to placate and avoid stirring the shit, the more I deny my own truth, the more I sacrifice my own power and possibility. It doesn’t matter how many scars I have from people acting out to try to silence or destroy me, if I let those scars stop me, I am stopped.
I love people. And when people I love have trouble seeing themselves mirrored in me, that is painful to me.
But what is worse, being challenging or being silent?
Silence == Death, as Act Up used to say.