a return to safety

image credit: pop art machine

Today I heard a story that reshaped my thinking about an event that took place in my llfe last year. On a particular Friday,  I ran into a personality conflict with someone I peripherally had come to know. I had been offering some really exquisite bleu cheese wrapped in grape leaves to someone and they responded with “I couldn’t eat that without a really nice glass of red wine”. I didn’t think much of it and went on my way. Later that same day, I again offered the people around me some of the really fragrant and very creamy bleu. Again this person retorted with the “red wine” comeback. I jokingly retorted back with – “aww you sound like an alcoholic”. This was tossed out in complete jest and it wasn’t at a meeting or with a client or a sponsee.  

Cut to Monday and I found myself alone with the same human and out of the blue I heard “I’ve been thinking about what you said last week and I disagree. It is just like someone who wants to have jelly on their peanut butter sandwich.”  I found myself non-plused.  The tone of the delivery took me back to my childhood and being spoken to by my mother. I think she had a way of surprise attacking me with stuff in her anger. She drank heavily for several years as I grew up and i recall her general behavior being erratic and unpredictable- often fueled by hangovers. And as I sat there on that Monday morning last summer, I was shrouded by some another blinding fog of PTSD. I knew I was not safe around this person and I knew I couldn’t trust them.

I spoke with a confidant about this exchange and was advised to have a conversation with this person, which I thought to be sound and proceeded to set into motion. I made an amends for my recent change of behavior and explained how I had a reaction to the conversation and had no excuse, but was in earnest. The rest of that particular talk turned into a small but pointed list of several other shortcomings I had, and concluded with the phrase- “I don’t get you” . Sadly, the emergency shut-down that had begun with the earlier meeting continued but with a new hazard level. I now felt sure I would not be emotionally safe. And I did not feel the effort to work on the relationship had merit any longer. To the contrary, I felt I needed to now let go.

I quietly and diligently worked out a plan to extract myself from the relationship. As we had come to spend much time together every day, it did take diligence and reserve to see the extraction through. Many times during that process, I came face-to-face with the effects of PTSD again in my life. And as I recanted this tale to a friend last night, he declared- “why does this keep happening  to you?”.  But the more accurate question might actually be “why do I keep attracting this drama to myself”? It is the question for my life these days and i am working on making room for an answer. None the less, I moved on, but not without continued dribbles of the continued angst. Although I managed to move on, this person still came around my perimeter, always forcing an interaction in an “I’m being so friendly and this freak is a drone” sort of way. And maybe I was a drone. But if I was, at least I was a protected drone and not a vulnerable one.

Now I get to the new part of the story. It turns out that this person may actually have deeper substance issues that previously exposed. There is a question of a prior incident with disappearing narcotics. There is the new item of breaking almost every ethical code involved with state licensees, which is layered by the fact that this new situation could involve a high-profile litigation attorney in our city. I would  give more detail here, but I will save that for a later date, when facts are set in stone. But what I wanted to express here is my immediate relief and validation about my own feelings. I so often am sure that I am crazy and this affords me the opportunity to consider another side to that idea. I am sad about the situation in general. It is not pleasant that lives get damaged, and that destruction comes as every action does indeed have a reaction. But mostly I feel hopeful, that indeed I might actually begin to feel safe once again.

last night i saw this video for the 1st time. it is by chris cunningham with his own remix of the song. it speaks to the creative vision of both  these artists- gil scott heron as well as cunningham. it is a timely addition to this post, as it reflects the play of dark and light in life on a masterful scale. that play seems to be at work in my life everyday, not always to such a dramatic level.

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