I have recently encountered a handful of situations where people are trying to understand and recover from the hurt caused by seemingly intelligent, spiritually aware friends and partners. These partners were abused and abandoned in childhood, and periodically, like clockwork, they erupt in cycles of rage and passive-aggressive behavior. These abused and wounded people have a double standard they will not admit to: after having craved, solicited, and even demanded unconditional love and support, they seem not to mind abusing and wounding those who actually do love and support them—the moment they begin to feel scared. During the acting out episodes, they say cruel things, throw objects, destroy property, and impulsively try to ruin their relationship by blaming the other person for the very things they themselves are doing. They cannot see the parallels—how they are becoming the abusers they hate, and how they are actually re-abusing themselves—and don’t want to because that would mean taking responsibility for their actions and having to face a painful (though false) idea of who they think they are.
In this pattern, the wounded partner often walks or storms out of the room/house with no communication about where they’re going or when they might return, leaving the other person to worry about their safety and the future of the relationship. The heart and all empathy is shut down; there is no capacity to feel the other’s pain, or goodness. There is, however, a will to deflect one’s own pain, a will to blame others, a will to wound. I suppose, below the surface in some level of the crazy victim-mind, they are letting themselves off the hook because, "I was hurt, so I’m not responsible for what I do. I deserve to be mad. And I can make it all better later, or act like it never happened. Or, I can always leave and start another relationship."
I have lately been watching—I confess, it is a morbid fascination—the reality television program that deals with celebrity rehab from drug, alcohol, and sex addiction. It is interesting to watch the difference between the two states of awareness the addicts swing back and forth between. When they are high they isolate themselves, act impulsively and narcissistically, put down or destroy anything relating to "normal" life, and whatever substance they rely on to cover their pain becomes the Authority and begins demanding attention and obedience.
When they detox, the frightened mind acts out in ways I described above: behaviors are marked by lying, whining, making excuses, avoiding truth, going into apathy and dissociative states, and becoming cruel and violent to distance others who might want to "judge" or "change" them. When they come through the detox process and are clean, their sweetness shines through, they care about others, and express themselves clearly and intelligently. Their talent emerges. As I watched, I began to be able to discriminate times when the disease was talking vs. times when the soul was talking.
Many people are not addicts to the extent the television show people are, but many of us manage or medicate our early wounds similarly, in a variety of tricky ways. The behavior is the same: when faced with feeling the painful pattern might be repeating, or with the reality of having to give up the core addiction to being a victim, the mind pulls out every possible mode of distraction and avoidance. A gap opens up and it’s so easy then to say any hurtful thing, or to use energy to whack someone.
In the next installment, I'll talk more about how we can use energy more positively.