I’m in a cranky space. Not really for any particular reason, other than perhaps the crazy way my sleep schedule seems to be screwing up.
But, it did get me thinking.
While there is a lot of my psyche that is fairly well completely screwed up beyond belief, there are some very good parts of me that I lost during my marriage, that seem to be slowly returning.
And a lot of that has to do with my family of origin.
There are things from my life that got screwed up from the dysfunctional portions of my family. But, there are also pieces to that particular set of dysfunction that are actually of positive purpose, and are good to have developed.
For example, although I experienced the same kind of poor interaction between society and the individual in relation to weight and obesity, I also was taught that my body was a blessing from the Divine, and that I should feel no shame in nudity (my own, or that of others). Therefore, while I have many issues in relation to my weight, I don’t have some of the massively debilitating emotional issues around my body that a good portion of other life-long obesity sufferers do.
Another issue that comes up repeatedly is the emotional unavailability of my father, and the example or role model he made for me. On the other hand, my mother was the complete opposite end of the spectrum, she was far too emotionally available sometimes to the extent of smothering. So, I had role models on both ends of that spectrum.
This gives me a chance to evaluate both ends, and try to find some balance somewhere between the two of them. While I will admit that during my marriage, I swung far too close to the emotionally unavailable end of the spectrum, it has helped me to see some advantages.
Stepping back from an extreme of emotional chaos doesn’t always have to mean that you are shutting down the emotion (“shutting down” is one of those signs of an emotionally unavailable person), as long as you allow yourself to continue to feel the emotions. But, stepping back, allowing your intellect to rule your expression of those emotions – this can be a very good thing.
Being cranky, or angry or enraged for that matter, does not mean you have the right to affect anyone else with your emotional state. It’s so very easy for a person to just give in to the chaos of the moment, and allow their emotions to rule their words and actions. In fact, this is exactly what my ex-husband has a lifelong habit of doing. Misery loves company. And many people in the US have a similar habit. And, unfortunately, this habit is both lauded and condemned.
Too often, the person who tries to look at issues with an objective point of view is considered disinterested, dispassionate, unempathetic or indifferent to the issue at hand. While there are some who are admittedly unaffected by injustice and abuse, there are others who want to look deeper into the problem so that they can discover the root cause, and thereby heal the illness, not just treat the symptoms.
Racism, sexism, most of the -isms out there all have numerous root causes. Some relate to self-esteem, some to environmental emotional impact, and many other innate problems. I don’t think that there is actually anyone who believes that these -isms are positive. The issue is that those who are staunch supporters of a particular -ism cannot see how that particular -ism can cause negative impact on others. They don’t see that a particular set of behaviors can be defined as that particular -ism.
Let’s take sexism, for example. Many men, and some women, in this country cannot see how some of their choices for their lives can be as sexist as many people claim. Opening a door for a woman, perhaps is a situation that has less emotion tied up in it than some others. Many men, while growing up, were taught that it is a courtesy to open a door for a woman (whether she is an acquaintance or not). Some women were, as well — I certainly was. The way I was taught is that if you get to a door, and someone is immediately behind you, it is only courteous to hold the door open for them (whether you walk in first or not, the issue is making sure that the door does not slam in the face of the person behind you), and the courteous response to it is to say “thank you.” By habit, I wait to enter the door, and hold it open for someone who is older than I, or who may have some visible difficulty moving. Again, this is about being courteous to someone other than myself.
But, there are many who seem to believe that holding a door open isn’t about courtesy, they feel that it is about somehow saying that the person for whom the door being held is somehow inferior to the person holding the door, or is somehow incapable.
That is an internal self-assessment, however. It is an assumption on the motives of the person holding the door. It is applying an emotion that you have and attributing it to the person holding the door.
Are there people who make a mockery of this courtesy? Of course, there are. But to assume that all people who do this particular form of courtesy are doing it out of a sense of superiority to you is a projection of your own emotional motivations upon another person.
I tend to avoid interactions with others beyond the most superficial when I am feeling what could be considered a “negative emotion” (such as anger, sadness, or simple crankiness). I do so more out of a desire to not inflict my emotion on another person. It does not mean I avoid persistent friends or family who want to “be there” for me, it just means that I avoid situations where my intellect may be overwhelmed by my emotion.
And, it’s also why when I see an issue that I try to educate someone rather than assuming they are intentionally being motivated by superiority.