I headed out from my morning job onto the busy interstate in a rush to get to my afternoon/night job. Luckily, my house is smack dab in-between them so a quick stop home to check on things was in order. As I merged onto the Interstate, I was overcome with a cloud of dust covering my windshield in a sheath of beige sadness. I quickly reached for the windshield wipers and soon the culprit became clear: A big wobbly dump truck spewing dust and debris from its giant bed without a cover -of course.
I thought, “Surely the driver knows the mayhem they’re creating. How could they not? All they have to do is look in their rear view mirror.”
But how many times have we found out something after the fact that we were completely unaware of? Have you ever had a driver pass you and give you the happy little bird sign? You don’t know where he came from or what provoked this senseless barrage onto your safe space inside your bubble of a car. After all, you are just minding your business, trying to remain alive getting from point A to point B.
Someone else’s perspective of us is usually completely different than our reality, especially of a certain scenerio in the past. Just like my dust wielding truck driver; we might have created havoc without even knowing it.
Recently, I have been accused of things that were never my intention. My marital family called me cruel and horrible because I stuck up for my marriage against people who wanted to tear it apart. At almost the exact same time I was told that my son has done worse things than my current husband AND my ex husband and yet I still continue to support him and “am always mad at them”. This is such an enormous and unsubstantiated projection that I can’t even with it…
One week earlier, I was told by this same person that I have done and said so many awful things over the years to this person and that I was not qualified to even utter a word about my grandchildren being well adjusted, which was said with the intent of “they are well-adjusted, you’re doing a great job”— but was taken to mean that everything that has transpired in the face of addiction wasn’t “so bad” and I suppose: “you should just get over it because the kids are doing great”. Who knows, but I would never insinuate those twisted words and I would never downplay the consequences of addiction. I just happen to not believe in demonizing and trashing my son constantly.
But my seemingly innocent and meant to be complimentary words were this person’s dust on their windshield. As is my continued support of guiding my son toward recovery by maintaining a connection with kindness— which of course is “enabling”.
My next attack came in the form of a close family member who felt that I diminished their feelings during my son’s last big relapse. Several attempts were made to clarify this resulting in more character assassinations against me and by this time my emotional vault was in the negative zeroes and I was unable to pursue any sort of repair.
What do we do when others’ emotions boil over into viscous attacks seemingly aimed right at our soul?
Depending on what side we are on, the solution seems simple. Some would say that an apology would suffice. I must admit that the apology I never got for calling me cruel and horrible still sticks with me. Especially since I never displayed or directed any names or labels toward them or called them anything near what they called me….. all for sticking up and staying in my marriage. Never mind all the good I HAVE done in my marriage and the happiness cultivated. Almost anyone can see that my husband is 10 x a better man since he met me, even he will speak to that truth.
But they can’t see that.
The only dust they see are the particles of their perceived offenses. Things such as leaving family functions when the conversation turns to “drug addicts” or the homeless; not answering a nurse question, excusing myself from a hospital room where a suicide conversation was happening (which my brother completed in my childhood). These are my crimes. My personal boundaries of self preservation.
These are the dust particles blowing on their windshield.
If I apologize will that make everything better? You would think. But now that I know my every move and my every word are recorded as offensive and cruel; why on earth would I subject myself to that energy again?
In the other two situations, they are so many projections and assumptions about my intentions and my role with my son that I am finished explaining. I tried for over years to elicit sympathy and it has only led to this extreme blow up and mixing up of words and intentions.
People can only see as far as their pain will allow. The covered windshield is their pain.
Just like my pain over my brothers suicide is my windshield, their flippant conversations about suicide are the dust.
There is only one person who can control the windshield. With all the dust blowing around out there, the windshield will always be dirty. So how to keep it from clouding my vision and affecting my mood and psyche?
By doing things that are within my control.
- Filling up the tank of windshield wiper fluid so I can wipe the fiery dust darts away.
- Self affirmations that heal wounds and refill my tank of windshield wiper fluid.
- Surrounding myself with positive, supportive people who uplift and edify me.
- Constantly re-educating myself on addiction, treatment and all aspects of recovery.
- Silence the voice with either the mute button (no contact), drown it out with only short polite conversations. (Gray rock) and/or minimize interactions and make sure not to trash their name like they are trashing mine.
I think if I put these things into place I will feel less stress in my body and a clean windshield leaving me better able to maintain my life without falling victim to others’ opinions.