Thursday, August 27, 2009

The thing about hate...


Have you ever had the same fight over and over again? Like the day repeating, but the weather has changed? Groundhog day... This is my life. It doesn't happen every day, but often enough. I feel like I am losing my mind!

The issue is, my husband hates my sister- and I hate my husbands father. This dynamic is a constant source of argument that might never die. Aside from these two people, there is nothing to argue about!

Why does my husband throw the dirty "family card" out there? Even when we are bickering about what movie to see, the "family card" gets thrown down and the argument shifts, gets heated, and I turn on the silent treatment. When are we too old to bicker about family? Will it ever end? When???

bickering betty

Dear Bickering Betty,

I love love love this question...first of all because it describes what happens behind so many peoples closed doors--and I get all warm and fuzzy inside when I realize that this may just help someone, in addition to you, who is least expecting it... but I also love it because I get to use one of my favorite metaphors...the scratched record. Fun times. Here we go...

In the beginning of our life we are like a new record, all shiny and new, scratch free, playing smoothly without skipping or getting stuck, no matter what comes our way. Then, life happens. We have happy joyful delicious times, and we have frustrating hurtful painful times. Sometimes the painful times create a big lasting scratch in our record. Some scratches are, really deep.

What happens is this; if that deep scratch isn't healed...we never talked about it, went to therapy, dealt with it... it becomes our default emotional landing.

What I mean is, as our record/life plays on, if the record player ever gets bumped- like something upsets us, ruffles us, etc.—we automatically get thrown right back to our deepest scratched spot- the painful memory, experience, or feeling. And being there is crappy. And scary. And uncomfortable. And we get angry. And even if the person, place, or thing that bumped the record player has nothing to do with the scratch, they get the heat for it.

So now that I may have thoroughly confused you... let's relate this to your situation and put this metaphor to work.

Let's use your husband hating your sister as our example. I don't know him or his life story, but what I sense is that he's a human being who has gone through stuff- life, family, etc. and something affected him in at some point that he has yet to deal with and put to rest-maybe major, maybe minor, but created a scratch nonetheless. And that scratch is still there.

Your sister happens to be a person who bumps your husbands record player…she triggers him, activates him, reminds him of (unconsciously) and makes him feel the feelings that live in the deep scratch in his record. Then he's uncomfortable, and get's angry.

After enough bumps, your sister became the face of his frustration-like an ad campaign. Every time you think of Subway you think, Jared, the Subway guy, ya? So every time he feels frustrated he thinks... my sister-in-law, the frustrating girl. Not so fair, but true and totally normal.

Are you still with me? This is a lot. Take a deep breath. Let's keep going...

When you and your hubby are deciding about a movie, for example, he may feel frustrated. And now, your sister is the representative of frustration. So she get's brought into the mix. Bummer.

So here's the play by play. First, you get scratched at some point in your life. The scratch is deep, and it's easy to fall back into it. Then, you meet someone who bumps you... something about them just activates you and for some reason leads you fall into the icky feelings all over again...

Then, you decide you hate them. Because they bump you into a place and into feelings you don't like experiencing.

The thing about hate is that when you feel it towards another person, it's the universe sending you a message, telling you it's time to look within...and get curious. We don't hate others...we really don't. Hating others isn't part of our natural makeup...what we hate are the feelings that come up as a response to certain people or groups. For example, we don't like feeling afraid, so we hate those who scare us. We don't like feeling insecure, so we hate those who make us question ourselves. We don't like feeling unsafe, so we hate those who threaten our safety, etc.

Feeling hate is a huge gift...that is, if you are willing to unwrap it. If you discover where your feelings of hate towards another human being come from... well then you are a frikin' winner. You get to grow. You get to become more accountable. You get to become more mature, gracious, self aware, and kind. I get chills even thinking about it.

Hating another person or group and then taking a step back and wondering about yourself and where that hatred might be coming from--and taking responsibility for those emotions. Ugh, I mean, that's world peace according to me. So delish I can’t stand it.

My response isn't about why your sister or his dad bumped either of you in the first place. That's a whole other story. That's something that I can't speak to-I don't have enough information. It's your box to unpack, preferably with a therapist individually or as a couple.

What is it about them that makes you both so heated? What don't you like to feel that they bring out in you...and where did it come from? So many possibilities...

My amazing-loving-bickering-human through and through-darling...I could squeeze you right now I'm so happy. Do you realize what just happened? You had a hand in possibly inspiring not only yourself, but another person reading this post think about themselves, their past, life, relationships, a new light.

Now go put your favorite record on, and breathe through the bumps, the scratches, and dance to every gorgeous song along the way...madly, deeply, joyfully.

Love love love,

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