Friday, April 20, 2012

Indirect Confrontation, Repression, and Defending the Heart

So, I've been up all night. As usual. Sleepy as heck. Headachy, in pain through my body. Fibro. But I got an insight into something. A few insights. First: I never really get angry at people. I fume, I get peeved, I get pissed, I grieve and whine. But I don't get angry. Second: Not only do I seem to be a slow reactor to hurt but I get hurt instead of getting angry. Thirdly: I don't confront people and I seem especially unable to to confront people who have hurt my heart because there is this shame issue with actually feeling someone should honor my heart.

A few examples, if you will: (And trust me, it hurts and shames me -- makes me feel like a kid-- to have to point out the heart's hurt) but here goes:

And I'll name names because, heck, this kind of indirect pointing out of my heart is what I do. I have never told any of the folks what I'm now about to tell you.

Katherine sent me her story to critique. She added, "There's a character named Carole in there, but I swear, it's not you." Okay, for me: red flag. I read the story. The character seemed definitely like a nasty caricature of me. I said nothing. Later she said, "You said I should write real characters. I do write real characters." I didn't respond to her directly. Instead I posted to my facebook status: "I wish people wouldn't tell me they write real characters after I spent an hour critting their story when I'm sick." Note the indirect confrontation. Never once did I say what I should have said: "I am very hurt, Katherine, that you not only made a caricature of me in your story but now you're expecting me to accept that caricature as a real person." Why didn't I say that? Because it would have been defending my heart.

I told Jessica on Thanksgiving 2010: "You're my best friend." She responded. "Yes, Carole, you're one of my best friends." Now, that hurt. I didn't confront her on that. Why not? Because it is quite natural for other folks to have many best friends and that was my problem having a person as a best friend who didn't think of me as her best friend. So upshot: the indirect confrontation: nothing but a slow pulling away and closing my heart in that friendship. I haven't said I am closing my heart but for my own safety I have been.

Example: Lawrence Dagstine once put a post on his facebook wall asking if folks believed in angels or ghosts. Many folks answered. Then I answered, telling him about my encounter with an angel, a demon, etc. Immediately after that, my atheist friend Cindy Ward, wrote. "No, I don't believe that." Note: she had all day to comment on his post.  But, she commented after me. Apparently, we're in some religious battle against each other. But from that moment when she pretty much called me a liar, I have disliked her. Have I challenged her? No! Because oversensitive sleepless Black Christian writers do not challenge healthy white atheists. She would only respond that I didn't know how to be a rational person.

A Christian friend said to me apropos of nothing, "Your son isn't healed because you have no faith" or "you don't pray enough." At first I just kinda sit there. Then I defended myself thusly, not looking at her but staring past the dashboard. "Why are people often dismissive of other people's pain?" I went on like that very philosophically for about fifteen minutes. At last she got it and said, "Are you talking to me?" To which I responded, "I'm just saying people should know how to keep their mouths shut." Note the wimpitude I am capable of. I should have said, "You judgmental pious smug bitch! You just hurt my feelings! What the fuck do you know about healing a child with developmental issues? Quite with the easy answer and stop judging me!" But nooooooo

There was one friend who made a crack about how reading romances as a child ruined her life. I tend to write romances. I got angry with her. But I never said, "I am angry with you because you basically just said the writing I do is useless and ruinous to young minds." So now she thinks I snipe at her for no reason.

Christians, in general, because they are so often so directly accusatory, are a problem because I don't confront. And the fuming and hurt doesn't go anywhere. When Wind Follower came out, I was slammed so much by Christians because of it. Apparently, for some people everything was wrong with that book. I didn't say, "Why are you hurting my feelings?" Once again, because defending one's heart seems silly to the rationale mind. After all, they were reviewers, so why should I be hurt at their honest opinions? But trouble was: mixed into their honest opinions was a lot of racist ideas about what Christian fiction should be and a lot of prissy ideas about sexuality. One of them even cropped the cover of Wind Follower on her blog because she thought it was indecent.

Of course this kind of non-confrontation on my part is like one's slip showing. We humans cannot help but leak. We're snippy or nasty or cold with people but they don't know the reason why, and because I am so good at not confronting them on the original hurt, they tend to think I'm just this wacky woman who is being cold to them for no reason.

So why am I going through this list right now?

Well, as I said, I was up all night. I tend to be up all night. I haven't slept in about three days except for a thirty minute stretch yesterday morning. And while I was up I got to thinking about this healing service I'm supposed to go to. And the more I thought about it, the angrier I became. And the holy spirit -- who reveals our hearts to us-- brought up the truth of my not being able to confront anger.

Consider: I emailed two friends who are in charge of the healing crusade.But not one word back from them. I KNOW for a fact I haven't hurt these folks' feelings. So why the ignoring? Or is it paranoia on my part? Then there is the actual going down to the healing service. If you've ever been to a healing service, you know what I speak of. Tons of people in pain and suffering, preachers on the podium sticking to their script, worship folks worshiping God supposedly but caught up in their worshiping instead of really caring for the sick. Ministers who go on and on with long speeches and who are covered with pride. But for me it's especially hard. I shall have to sit through all that. I, who haven't slept for years and who am generally in bed by 8:pm because sitting up later than that gives me a pounding headache. I who will have to hold onto an agitated younger son for two hours until the healing service actually begins. So why didn't I just email Richard and Maria again and say "You hurt my feelings because you ignored my prior email about questions for this healing service?" Because once again, it would be about validating my heart's pain.

So, why did the Holy Spirit bring all this to my mind now? Because, apparently, it's something in my heart. All this hurt and grief and anger before a healing service makes a healing service pretty useless unless one gets rid of them. Apparently, I can argue and speak up for all causes except the cause of my own heart! Why? Because it is weak and needy to say "But don't you care about me? Don't you love me enough to care to call me?" Seriously, i should ask...because they would probably say "YES!" But noooooo. I learned somewhere not to defend my heart.

Lord knows where I got this tendency to repress any defense or honoring of my feelings. Probably from a childhood where no one cared for me mixed with Christian notions of being "patient with those who wound you" mixed with being generally a wuss. I'm thinking it's like the line in For Colored Girls about not being sad or hurt because being colored and hurt were synonymous or redundant. Except with me, being raised by a minister grandfather in a wounding dysfunctional atmosphere just makes it all even more messy.  I feel challenged now by the holy spirit to not hold anything in my heart against folks....which means I shall have to honor my heart when someone dishonors it. Scary prospect. But if I want to get myself or my son healed I've got to work on forgiveness and learn to speak up so the sun doesn't go down on my wrath. Will see how this all pans out. Maybe I'll end up creating some truly angry main characters in my stories...instead of just sad suffering ones. Will see. 


jennifer anderson said...

you are like me, you wear your heart on your sleeve sometimes,

fact: people dont check emails as often as they used to. too many others ways of communication. do they use texts/ etc

it sounds like that woman on facebook was simply saying she didnt believe that and she may have only been amswering the mans question, without regard yo what you wrote about your experience.

and if you are not sleeping, wake your hubby up and let him put you to sleep.!

Yeah christians say a lot of things and are often judgemental of others. Also women, for instance, are often not nice to each other. Plus, take it from someone in a preacher's family also, churches always have drama going on. So don't take it personally when people say things to you that are sort of passive agressive. however lots of drama in your life does help one be creative and write. otherwise one would be bored with nothing to talk about or write about.

Carole McDonnell said...

Thanks, Jennifer. Who knows? After a wile one can only go with one's gut..paranoid gut which it might be.

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