June 27th, 2000

Brown-eyed Stare

The heart of the altercation / Altercation of the heart.

Trust is an issue of the heart; you can't safely be vulnerable with people who are going to hurt you. But you often don't know who those people are until after you get hurt.

Trust really sucks sometimes.

This past weekend, I went camping with a group of people that I have considered friends for some time. Well, most of them; some were new to the group, and sometimes that can present a problem. And that's what this entry is mostly about.

It is a group of people who all are in a therapy (12-step) group together. We socialize and practice being mentally healthy with each other… or at least we try. We also have a lot of fun, and go camping and skating and go to water parks and amusement parks, and stuff like that. We celebrate Christmas and Easter and Thanksgiving together, too. Mostly, we do all of this because it's fun, and because we care about each other.

One individual, in particular, has been hostile at points because we won't tell her what to do. She's new, and hasn't gotten it yet that we all have to "figure it out" for ourselves. Somehow, she thinks the rest of us have all have the answers, and she gets mad because we won't disclose them. Truth is, we don't have the answers (we often don't have ANY answers) and we have to figure it out, just like she'll have to. She has yet to discover that that the wisdom we acquire (when we do) comes from hearing others' stories and noticing that they are remarkably similar to our own, no matter how much it seems that we're the only ones in the whole world who feel that way. We figure out that we are the only ones who can initiate changes in our own lives, and then we learn how to make those necessary changes.

Well, apparently she brought her demanding-newbie, narrow-minded, Xtian views with her this weekend and decided that everyone needed to hear them, because one of the first serious discussions she initiated centered on reproductive choice, specifically abortion, and how it is murder. Now, I've spoken before in this group (in front of her) and have talked about how I had an abortion, and the struggle I've had with it. I spoke of how it's been an incredible struggle for me to come to a point of peace with it, even though I am staunchly pro-choice. And when the conversation plummeted into the depths of bickering ("Abortion is murder!" "No, it's not!") I spoke up, saying that was why I hated talking political issues like that with this group, because things eventually become intensely personal, and people are too emotional to remember to respect other people's viewpoints.

Well, the conversation did drop to an amazingly low point when she said she didn't give a damn about what my (or anyone else's) viewpoint was, she had hers, it was right and that was what was important. Her church teaches that abortion is murder, and she *knows* abortion is murder (said in a loud voice with the edgy tone of finality). End of discussion.

At this point, while she was interrupting me and saying this, I had been in the middle of saying that I agreed with her on a certain other point. I stopped her, and said that I was trying to express agreement with her on part of a different issue, and wasn't she listening to anything I'd said? I then said, loudly and clearly, "…and I *didn't* fucking murder ANYBODY!"

With that, there was silence throughout the group. I looked at her; she met my gaze, and quickly looked away with a huffy, self-righteous look on her face. Needing to cool off a bit, I went with a few others for a walk.

It is interesting to note that this particular loud, opinionated individual has two teenage sons and is constantly complaining about how she's gonna be able to continue raising them. She is only three years older than I am (I'm 31, and I have no children, and have not been married). She was even younger than I was when I made my decision. Now, she has kids and I have… My self? My freedom? Very few responsibilities? Yes, all of the above. But I, too, have my own set of obstacles. Being kidless does not may my life any easier; I just deal with different stuff.

Perhaps her self-righteous indignation and hostility came from the fact that she *didn't* have an abortion, and now has two sons to raise, and an ex who does not pay child support. Maybe she envies my aloneness. She and I both had the same decision to make quite a few years ago. I chose a different path (and maybe today I have a life that she wants), so maybe now she needs to feel morally superior. And I guess that crowing about her laments as virtues is what does it for her.

Oh well.

I wish her well, and hope she finds what she needs in this group. She definitely needs to work on the "respect others' differences" thing. But I did express to another friend that I didn't feel safe anymore around this person; I definitely *won't* be sharing any more soul-deep stuff while she's around. That trust is *gone*.

I'd also felt disappointed that no one else in our group jumped to my defense in this conflict (despite the fact that some others had expressed viewpoints similar to my own). Strange that, because this woman seems to be in a certain clique within our group that does not include the bigger group. And somehow I'm not in that clique.

That smacks too much of earlier memories; once again, I'm the loner, the outsider. Once again, no one is loyal to me, but me, and I only have myself that I can trust.

I *don't* like being in that space.

I even thought, after this, that I'd pack my car and leave, because I did have that option. But I decided to stay, and this individual and I even talked a little, later (although we acted as if none of that discussion had happened, which I'm also not comfortable with).

That angry altercation was an episode that left me (briefly) feeling like I'd not learned anything at all from my years in therapy and Program; that I was stupid and alone and didn't fit in, back at square one with no real backbone and a raw place where my heart used to be. And I *hate* being in that place. Bcause it's not true, even though it sure as Hell *feels* like it is.

And it didn't help that I'd forgotten my meds (Paxil) at home, and went two days without them. It's amazing how my self-esteem plummets when I don't take them. I guess it's a clear demonstration of how my brain chemistry needs to be altered, and that it really is not the fact that I am a bad person, just a person who feels bad.

That's about it for now. More on the strange weekend later. Coding now. And Mickey D's for lunch.