15 November 2006

Denial Vs. Toxic Hope

One of my favorite bumper stickers - and one that, come to think of it, I haven't seen around very often of late - is the classic, "Mean People Suck".

Indeed they do.

But I've been amazed, all my life, at the number of people who will insist [often quite vehemently] that there is no such thing as a mean person. Often, while they are insisting this, their wives or husbands are cheating on them, their bosses are either embezzling the pension funds or preparing to fire them on some flimsy pretext before they reach retirement age [in order to avoid having to pay their pension], and so on and so on.

Denial is tremendously powerful. But it doesn't change reality. Mean people suck. Indeed they do.

I've always known there were mean people and that they sucked - so in that sense I haven't dealt with denial in the usual sense of the word.

But I have had something holding me back from health, keeping me stuck in caretaking enabling codependent quicksand all my life. I've spent years trying to put a name to it, it has had the same effect on me as denial, and I finally figured it out...

It's toxic hope.

It's the belief that really, deep down inside, everyone has a better self [which seems like a good thing to believe, but it's a setup for this next bit: watch],

and that makes me responsible to find the way to reach all the way in there and pull that betterness out of every dysfunctional person I encounter in this life.

Man, what a doozie of a way to stick it to someone. I am responsible for bringing the goodness out of everyone I meet??? If they're poo, it's my fault??? What a horrible, horrible thing to teach a child! And oh, my, how it fattens us up for consumption by human predators.

I struggled with this for years, decades. Decades. Wanting to believe that there was something that could be reached in everyone, no matter how cruel, how vicious, how depraved their behavior towards me or towards others was. Feeling as though the meaner they were to me, the harder I was obligated to work to 'reach ' them.

It was only when I finally let go of that - that I began to heal. And it wasn't a picnic, because I then had to deal with tremendous 'rage against the dying of the light' - the same anger that people experience in response to horrendous bereavement. I truly felt that the false hope was the only hope and if I lost false hope I had lost all hope. It took years for me to get through.

I only really recently finally made it out, out of the rage, through the despair, and into the land of acceptance. It feels very strange where I am now. Solid, real, but - different from any country I have ever lived in before. I am very far from being used to it.


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