And that for me is mostly about experiencing behaviour from others that no longer works for me and then having to move away from them. This has been a theme for the last couple of years, letting go of some friendships. I get attached to people and so detaching can be difficult, and more like an extraction. But staying is even more painful as I found out once again yesterday.
To give quite an extreme example from the last couple of weeks – An old friend appeared for a visit from London and I took him out. It was a nightmare. He was drinking vodka at 10am and was falling over drunk, vomited, spilled beer and smoked in my car. I was patient and I felt love and kindness towards him. This guy is an amazing writer and guitarist and has abundant fantastic qualities.
And yet I was extremely uncomfortable being in the company of such self abuse and abuse of me too and very clear inside myself that I would not be seeing him again. I also feel great compassion for him. He was fostered and had a terribly abused childhood, and self medication is the path he has taken which has now nearly destroyed him. I pondered on the relationship between an abused childhood, a positively nurtured background and the subsequent life people lead as a consequence. The chances of success being far lessened the more abuse and damage is experienced in childhood. Confidence and self worth when not given to a child can be hard to find and develop later on in life.
I see this with another adoptee friend. I have been hanging in with this friendship as we get on so well, and he does a lot of self enquiry. His behaviour can become quite abusive though as he is volatile emotionally. Yesterday he got angry with me for something extremely minor and it put a dampener on what was otherwise a nice day out.
I left the shop we were in before he wanted to leave, and he walked left it too. We walked up the lane and some minutes later he asked if I was in a hurry, and if I was he would go back to the shop and then get the underground home. I said that it is fine with me if he did that. Then he said that he wouldn’t bother as it is too late now and we have left the shop.
He actually had no intention of going back to the shop despite that suggestion. But he was feeling anger about it that needed to come out in some way. So he set it up so he could say its too late and thereby make me responsible (in his mind) for his painful feelings and try make me feel responsible for his feelings too. I spoiled his fun in the shop and he was communicating that I was to blame for the anger he felt.
We walked back to the car half a mile in silence and the drove home practically in silence. The good feeling of camaraderie and goodwill breached by the anger. I tried to remain cheerful but by that time I was dealing with a sullen person sitting next to me. It wasn’t pleasant. This happens quite often in this friendship, and many times I have considered that it is time to let go. It is not comfortable being around somebody so easily triggered to anger, the phrase ‘walking on eggshells’ comes to mind. And yet a main topic of our conversations recently has been self compassion, being kind to ourselves and mindfulness. Oh what to do, what to do?!
I am dealing with the pain of my attachment to how I want things to be in the above example and to people in general who aren’t good for me. And the conflict that comes into play when they are abusive and I still feel attached. Its simple really. When my love and care for myself reaches a point where being around such behaviour no longer works I will leave. And carrying on with someone who behaves like that whatever their reason and childhood damage gives me pain, as I am simply hurting myself being around it. So I hurt myself or I love myself, my choice. It still hurts to leave a friendship which has many positives to it.
Here is an article about adoptees difficulties with many interesting comments below the article. I feel much humility about my lack of experience and knowledge of what it must be like and have been trying to understand.