|Circle of Dosso Dossi, Italian, Ferrara, 1525|
This may not be my typical and norm message, but it needs to be written. I’m not afraid to write bluntly, despite the marshmallow softness of a chastened heart. Marshmallows don’t melt when the heat rises. They only melt if they’re skewered on sticks and roasted over open fires. So listen to a piece of advice from someone who knows how hard it is to face reality, how frightening it is see sticks and fire, how challenging it is to fight the good fight by refusing to put up with abuse. From anyone. Especially from someone professing love while acting in hate.
Now I don’t care if the abuser is a parent or your siblings, your church leader or your partner. I don’t even care if the abuser is a neighbor you deal with everyday. It doesn’t matter if your doctor, shaman, psychic or spiritual leader of global repute took advantage of your trust. In fact, I don’t care WHO is abusing you or why. Your job is to STOP THE ABUSE. Even if you struggle understanding why people hurt those who love them, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if they have malignant narcissism, clinical codependence, sociopathic traits, or even if the only thing they have is a bug up their ass. Your job is to STOP THE ABUSE---to refuse to allow your integrity to be sullied by nasty, icky people.
Maybe your partner or parent comes from a long line of generational abuse you can trace back to Methuselah; including a genealogical graph complete with specific disorders and mental illnesses corroborated by diagnostic criteria and irrefutable brain scans. It simply doesn’t matter why someone abuses. What matters is that you stand up for what’s right and true and refuse to pass the buck or pay it forward.
I believed and continue to believe that human beings have come to a crucial point in history when we are the ones who have everything we need to STOP the legacy of abuse. We are strong enough, intelligent enough, conscious enough to face reality, as ugly and fearful as it may be. We are asked...no, wait, we are required to say, “Dammit, the abuse stops with me. I will not offer excuses as to why I can’t help myself and I won’t give excuses to the abuser who refuses to stop.” We step up to the demands we’re forced to face even if we feel like puking our guts out, we STOP THE ABUSE. No excuses. Not for you or me or our grandparents, not for our children or anyone. The only people who can stop abuse are the abused. We are the ones who’ve been prepared to overcome our all-too-human struggle: to rise above the summation of terrible things people have done to us, or to our predecessors. We are the ones who can make a difference. We’re ready to do this. We are the only ones who can do this by refusing to put up with abuse or becoming abusers ourselves.
Let me tell you something about reality. The world in general doesn't give a shit about your abusive relationship. Not that the world condones abuse but because it isn’t anybody’s responsibility to stop abuse. It’s yours. You are the only person who can do that for yourself.
Now, I’ll bet most people reading this message have more enlightenment than the Dalai Lama and fifty Bodhisattvas crammed together in a Tibetan stew pot. So take your compassion for all god’s chilluns and do something that will crack a wedge in the world’s indifference.
Write a Compassion List.
Yes, that’s right. Get a piece of paper and do it. Write down all the people you know who’ve been harmed and are suffering. You can include narcissists on your benevolence list if you want. Heaven’s knows marshmallow hearts are loath to deny charity to anyone. Now take that compassion list and number it from one to five thousand or however many people you feel sorry for. And put yourself at the top. YOU are numero uno, top of the list, crème de la crème, and the first person to take comfort in your merciful heart.
I remember several years ago when the shock of the Devalue & Discard finally reached a point where even a tender mender like myself could no longer deny the truth. I lay in my bed for weeks, forgetting to eat, forgetting to drink, forgetting about everything I needed to do to save myself. Thirty pounds later, I walked from the bed to the bathroom and my pajama bottoms fell off. That's when I witnessed my own self-punishment for not feeling worthy of a partner’s love. That’s right. All my years of concern for a suffering man, tending his wounded ego with compassion, understanding, forgiveness and kindness and still, none of it had made a dent in the global capacity for abuse. Why not? Because now I was abusing myself. I was dying like a martyr on the cross of unconditional love, believing another human being should validate my worth.
I stood buck-naked in front of my mirror taking stock of a miserable woman and wondering what had become of the girl who believed in everyone’s capacity to change and heal. Why wouldn’t I believe that? I had done it for myself. I had witnessed other people do the same thing. I had accepted my role as a wife living UP to her commitments even when they got me down. I drew myself up full-height and said, “The ABUSE stops with me. I don’t care whether or not his childhood was miserable. I don’t care whether or not he’s on a temporary fugue with another woman who’s on a fugue from reality, too. Look at yerself, CZ. Now there’s a healthy dose of reality for ya. You’re wasting away like a loyal collie whose master walked into the sunset, leaving her as a living testament to his power. You don’t have to follow him around or lie in your bed hoping he’ll return a smidgeon of the compassion he received. He isn’t going to. He doesn’t know how to. But you do. So be kind to yourself. STOP THE ABUSE.”
And I did. And so can you.
When you take action to protect yourself from those who DO NOT CARE and will not change, you are doing the RIGHT thing. You are living up to the expectations you were born to face. You have everything you need to change the future by refusing to participate in power & control relationships, subjecting yourself to spiritual degradation, and the heartless trampling of your vulnerabilities. If what you’re getting in return for your high-minded principles is abusive, STOP IT. You’re the only person who can do that. Do it for yourself.
Maybe there comes a time when you’ve completed your compassion list by offering a healing dose of kindness to every suffering soul you’ve ever met. If you’ve done that and if you are inclined to understand ‘why’ people do the despicable things they do, then offer residual compassion to narcissists: egotistical sadists who know very well what they do. Sure, they deserve compassion but they’re way down the list from all those who merit compassion first. So Stand Up. Get a Grip. Take charge of what you believe the right thing to do might be. Don’t allow your love to be degraded by martyrdom and endless suffering. Love yourself enough to STOP THE ABUSE by refusing to ABUSE YOURSELF.
Love your children enough to STOP THE ABUSE.
Love the future enough to STOP THE ABUSE.
Grant clemency to yourself and step out of the prison with both feet clad in combat boots, ready to do battle with fear & self-doubt.
Feel sorry for yourself, cry a river, go to Costco and get a case of Kleenex but the first step towards a humane society is STOPPING THE ABUSE. Refuse to pass the buck or offer excuses as to why you deserve to be a grease spot. Get yourself up, dust off your skinned knees, hold your head high and rise above the wicked things you’ve endured. You are the only one who can show by your actions, that you believe in your self worth. You are the only one who can stand up for what you perceive to be true about humanity: that we are capable of love; that we are more than savage beasts fighting for dominance and control. Don’t ever allow abuse as an excuse, nor sacrifice yourself on the alter of unconditional love. It ain’t love if it hurts and there’s no such thing as unconditional in a conditional world.
What good is your death if the abuser continues abusing even after you’re pushing up the daisies? If you believe in the human capacity to care about one another, then prove it. Be compassionate to yourself and STOP THE ABUSE.
Much hope for a kinder future,