Pragmatic Compendium

inspiring the pragmatic practice of intimacy with Christ

facebook fragments: 01/10/14 – 01/17/14 (listened to a lot of music this week)

For those of you who don’t follow me on facebook…

Friday, 01/10/14
“that’s precious.” #stuffIdontsay

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Sunday, 01/12/14
My son just used the word “solace” in everyday conversation.
And he didn’t remember using it when I asked if I could post this.
I’m so proud.

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The 2014 Living Room makeover: before and during
(click to photo below to see all the “before” shots)

new flooring sample
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Monday, 01/13/14
Parking FavoriteSon’s new car second in the driveway without overlaping the sidewalk.
I’m getting good at this.

driveway parking

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Tuesday, 01/14/14

God Catchers When you are hungry for Him God doesnt say calm down

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This song was posted by a family who just lost their 3 month old son.
A testimony of faith in devastating heartbreak.

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PinkGirl is FREAKING out over this. We have tix to see – and MEET – them in March. #ilovemydaughter

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Wednesday, 01/15/14
Louder.

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Book Sniffing. How Nerds Get High. #bibliophile

book sniffing

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Thursday, 01/16/14
that time when you see someone do something nice to help someone else. after making it very clear just how put out they are in the doing of it. #itaintgracewhenyougiveitthatway

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“Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I’ve come.”

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Praying for saturating comfort and intense peace for some friends who are hurting today.
(click the photo to view the source post)

http://pragmaticcompendium.com/?s=princess+tapestry

disney princess tapestry back

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These photos are another reminder for me. Sometimes you can’t see someone’s pain. Doesn’t mean it’s not there. #reachout #seepeople (click the photo below to see the rest of the photos and the story behind the last one)

JohnSchneider

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A huge THANK YOU to Kristen with BodyInUnity Inc.! Tonight was my 2nd yoga class after more than 6 months away. And THANK YOU to OASIS Spa & Wellness for hosting the Thursday 6pm session! Such a peaceful and edifying environment! If you’re local and interested in Christian yoga classes, check out the Body in Unity facebook page for more info. And be sure to check out the services at Oasis! Beautiful, professional, peaceful and a great value! #fightthefrump #GoodStewardofthisBody

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Friday, January 17, 2014
Putting a credit card to good use on a Florida winter morning.

frost on the windshield

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Thinking about songs that have been challenging for me to learn. If we only sang “singable” songs during worship, I never would have gotten to lead this one.

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mmmm, drums for the King. “We lift our banner high, we lift the name of Jesus” New Elevation Worship song.

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If you see me singing in my van over the next few days, this is what I’m listening to:

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FavoritetHusband put up 5 birdhouses on Sunday. Took these two 5 days to find theirs.

birdhouses

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Finally found FavoiteSon a PS4 (delayed Xmas present) but had to buy it in a bundle. Listed the headset & 1 of the unwanted games on Ebay last night. One sold before I went to bed, the other before I woke up. LOVE it when my auctions turn over like that!

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Anyone want to weigh in on the current inhouse mother/daughter disagreement?
peanut butter. creamy or crunchy?

crunch or creamy peanut butter

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I’ve let Bob the cat in. and out. and in. and out. no less than 10 times so far today.
His sister, Boo? zero. The girl knows how to make a decision.

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2nd yoga class last night after more than 6 months off. I think I feel every. single. muscle. in my body right now. #fightthefrump #GoodStewardofthisBody

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To see more previous facebook update and compilation blog posts, CLICK HERE

January 28, 2014 Posted by | books, christian living, clean house, crazymakers, exercise, fight the frump, fragments, goodsteward/body, home sweet home, laugh!, music, pinterest, poor me some whine, praise team music, status updates, suffering, vehicles, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jesus said turn the other cheek. He didn’t say I had to stand within smack radius.

“so, have you spoken to them about their behavior?”

That was the question I was asked after publishing my post entitled “you see the big hat too . . . right?

(For those who don’t have time to read that post, here’s the twitter version: “passive-aggressive narcissist. boundaries, distance & prayer. attempted normal relationship. failed. back to boundaries, distance & prayer.”)

Back to the question – Have I spoken to this person about their behavior?

The person asking me the question is someone I respect. They deserve an answer with a reason. So here goes.

As Christians, we tend to think God wants us to reek of Ephesians 4 and live in “Unity and Maturity in the Body of Christ.” My concern, the reason I’m still writing about my response to passive-aggressive behavior, is that some Christians interpret “unity in Christ” to mean we should get along with everybody God has placed and/or allowed in our lives. Some Christians believe that “unity in Christ” means that anger is a sin and most importantly, that we should strive to resolve differences when we encounter conflict.

Have I spoken to this person about their behavior? It’s a reasonable question – from a reasonable person. And therein lies the problem. The assumption we want to make is that everyone is, at least for a few minutes of every day, reasonable.

What a beautiful theory.

In reality, it’s more like this:

(oh, chill out. It’s just a cartoon. God loves jerks too.)

To answer the question, Yes. I tried confrontation. I was a communication major. I have a conflict resolution model memorized and am ready to use it at a moment’s notice. So, yes. I did speak with them about their behavior – Before I figured out their standard MO (with everyone, not just me) was passive-aggressive behavior. Specific behaviors were openly addressed and were discontinued, at least temporarily, only to be replaced with a different manifestation of the same root issue. See, passive-aggressive behavior is like a flu strain. It subtly morphs, but is never eradicated. Since the behaviors never stop, the need for attention never ends.

I have years of experience with narcissism and its key characteristic – passive-aggressive behavior. I spent months saturated in research on it. Once I recognized it in this person, I knew exactly what to do. Over and over and over again, the books and documentation suggest that boundaries and distance are the only long lasting solution.

really. I’m not just making this stuff up to avoid confrontation. Remember, I tried confrontation. Confrontation produced temporary results:

“Realize that the narcissist may agree to change the dynamics of the relationship for a short time, to get you off his back,” but will usually revert to what he or she considers “normal.” In the end, the only healthy way to live with a narcissist is to become more of “your own person” and to create a space between you and the narcissist from which you both can live . . .

Minimize direct confrontation with the narcissist’s unhealthy behavior. Most narcissists are simply unable to receive criticism, even if it is meant constructively and spoken in a soft and respectful manner . . .

Maintain good personal boundaries between you and the narcissist. In response to your setting a boundary, the narcissist may attempt to rewrite history or even try to convince you that what you thought (or saw) just happened didn’t, and thus, there is no need for setting a boundary in the first place. Do not back down. . . ” (emphasis added)

(Understanding Narcissism, Paul M. Floyd, M.Div., J.D. and Bruce Narramore, Ph.D.)

My recent problem stemmed from the fact that I intentionally made the decision to take down the boundaries I had set and I attempted to bridge the distance I had established. (To find out WHY I would do such a thing, CLICK HERE to read my post Dear PinkGirl: don’t copy me.

(For those who don’t have time to read that post, here’s the twitter version: “a friend witnessed a passive-aggressive attack that didn’t bother me, but upset her. I explored the possibility that my boundaries were not God’s will.”)

Someone I respected – also a Christian and a reasonable person – witnessed a passive-aggressive attack. Because I had mental and emotional boundaries firmly in place, I bounced back like a quarter on a tightly made bed. My friend, however, was surprised and upset by this person’s behavior. It was new to them and seemed out of character. From my perspective, the behavior was fairly typical. But out of respect for my friend, because it upset her, I decided to prayerfully consider whether I was ignoring any promptings from the Holy Spirit to reach out to the narcissist God was allowing in my life.

Armed with daily prayer and all the research on narcissism and passive-aggressive behavior I could devour, I spent the last few weeks attempting to engage in a positive interpersonal relationship with this person I had previously (and successfully) blocked out for 2 years.

It depleted me. It sapped my energy and stole my peace. It interfered with my work. I became so discouraged I even stopped eating and exercising. I slowly lost my patience and my ability to respond appropriately and began to resent this person and react with frustration when I witnessed continued attempts at manipulation, whereas I had previously felt nothing toward them and had been immune to the manipulation for 2 years. I had experienced 2 years of sincere calm indifference when they behaved badly and now? I wanted to smack ‘em every time they acted out. That ain’t good. CLICK HERE to read “step away from the puppy” to read what I wrote about that.”

(For those who don’t have time to read that post, here’s the twitter version: “emotional bullies wear puppy suits. wounded puppy suits. feeding the puppy just makes him hungrier and wipes you out.”)

After relentlessly praying about this situation and this person and relentlessly asking God what he would have me do, I’m grateful and confident that Christ isn’t calling me to extend compassion by making myself available for continuous attack. (again, with another backstory – CLICK HERE to read “I’m going to stop being discouraged and be awesome instead. True Story.“)

(For those who don’t have time to read that post, here’s the twitter version: “I can’t be discouraged anymore. It doesn’t work for me. It’s like breathing through a pillow.”)

My favorite verse in Ephesians 4? Verse 26a: “Be angry but do not sin.”

And I’m very grateful to Dr. Paul Meier for his interpretation of scripture:

David’s response to Saul offers a three-step process for us to follow today:
1. Remember that you aren’t the issue! David knew the problem was with Saul, not with himself.
2. Recognize you can’t cure the other person. David couldn’t straighten Saul out. If you want peace of mind, you must realize you cannot change a crazymaker’s internal workings.
3. We can only change ourselves. Instead of responding to Saul in a like manner, David refused to become Saul’s enemy. David supported the king even as he hid from Saul’s vicious attacks.
Crazymakers by Paul Meier M.D.

I’ve gone back to a place of peace through the re-establishment of boundaries, distance and prayer – I literally pray for this person multiple times per week. If anything will change them, it will be God. Because, unlike me, HE can do ANYthing.


CLICK HERE to see other posts I’ve written about dealing with emotional bullies, narcissists and passive-aggressive people.

April 24, 2012 Posted by | books, christian living, crazymakers, intentional living, laugh!, learning curve, poor me some whine, pragmatic communication, pragmatic communion, what I've learned | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

you see the big hat too . . . right?

Ever try to describe the behavior of a passive-aggressive person to someone else?

Inevitably, you come off sounding petty. And a little crazy.

There’s disbelief: “No way. That doesn’t seem like them.”

There’s doubt: “Are you sure? Maybe you misunderstood.”

There’s advice: “You should talk to them about it. They probably have no idea you feel this way.”

And then you think, “maybe I am crazy after all. Maybe I just imagined everything. They seem so normal. So nice.” You look around. “Nobody else has a problem with them. Everybody else thinks they’re nice. There must be something wrong with ME. Maybe I’m tired. or overstressed. oversensitive.”

“Yes, that must be it. This is definitely all in my head. I just need a good night’s sleep. or a day off.”

and then, with the stealth of Eddie Haskel and sweetness of Marie Barone, they strike again.

When you get your bearings, you realize. You weren’t imagining things! You’re not crazy!!! woo hoo!!

wait.

That’s not better. It’s just a different kind of bad. and they’re not going to change. You’re not going to change them.

The only thing you can change is your response.

Someone who engages in passive-aggressive behavior is like a woman sitting in the front row at a play, wearing a big ol’ hat. People approach her and politely tell her that her hat is blocking their view of the stage. They make sure not to insult the hat, assuring her it is a beautiful hat, unique and perfect for her. She smiles and thanks them as they walk away, but she doesn’t take the hat off. She just repositions it to a different spot on her head.

It never even occurred to her to take off the hat.

She’s not being mean. In her mind, she’s not doing anything wrong. Nobody actually asked her to take the hat off. They just told her it was in their way, so she moved it. They told her it was a nice hat. So, by leaving it on, everyone still gets to admire it. She’s doing everyone a great service.

If you’re sitting behind her, you have five choices, only one of them good:

1. You can sit there, mumbling and complaining about the rude woman in the front row wearing the big ol’ hat:
“Can you BELIEVE her? WHAT is her problem?”

2. You can address the issue directly and politely ask her to remove her hat.
But you’re too late. Someone has already told her what a nice hat it is. She’ll defensively tell you that other people have told her they like it, implying that you are a schmuck for asking her to take it off. What’s wrong with you? Why would you even say anything bad about her hat? You must not like her. You’ve hurt her feelings. (You can tell because her bottom lip is quivering.) You’re mean. And after you go back to your seat, just as the show starts, when everyone is supposed to turn off their phone, she’ll send you a text message to tell you that she understands that you’re just upset because you don’t have a hat. After the show, she’ll tell everyone who will listen what happened. Then they’ll all know how petty and mean you were.

Are.

3. You can walk up to her and snatch the big ol’ hat off of her head yourself.
Don’t do it. It just makes you look crazier. and even meaner than if you asked her to remove the hat.

4. You can give up and leave.
What’s the point of sticking around? You won’t be able to see anything anyway.

5. You can STAY and MOVE to BETTER SEAT.
If you’re smart, you’ll move. You won’t let a big ol’ hat run you off.

And if you’re a Christian, you can pray. That she’ll see her big ol’ hat for what it is – an obstacle to open communication and good relationships. Of course, you should probably also pray that God will bless you with the patience and energy to keep moving to a better seat without letting it get to you. (Jesus said we should turn the other cheek. But He didn’t say we had to stand within smack radius.)

New people will come in and, at first, not paying attention, they’ll fill the empty seats around her. After a while, they’ll notice. “That’s a big hat.” They’ll assume she knows it’s rude to leave the hat on. They’ll assume she’ll take it off. When she doesn’t, they’ll find themselves facing the same five choices you did.

As the new people thin out and the crowd consists of people who’ve been there a while, you’ll notice something. She’s surrounded by empty seats.

But she still looks – and feels – good in the hat. And to her, that’s the most important thing.


(This post is a follow up to Dear PinkGirl: don’t copy me.) CLICK HERE for the backstory.


CLICK HERE to see other posts I’ve written about dealing with emotional bullies, narcissists and passive-aggressive people.

April 23, 2012 Posted by | christian living, crazymakers, intentional living, laugh!, learning curve, poor me some whine, pragmatic communication, pragmatic communion, what I've learned | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I’m going to stop being discouraged and be awesome instead. True Story.

I haven’t exactly been sad. But I’ll admit. For the last few weeks, I’ve been discouraged. I found myself in the middle of a new work group dynamic and the results have been . . . discouraging. Actually, it’s an old dynamic that I allowed to resurface. I should have known better.

I can’t be discouraged anymore. It doesn’t work for me.

I’m not going to hold back my best anymore to try and accommodate someone who is uncomfortable with my strength. It’s been like breathing through a pillow.

I can’t intentionally incorporate their work product into my work anymore. The addition is eroding the quality of my finished product and my peace of mind. If they can add to the finished product, that’s great, but I can’t continue modifying my work to include inconsistent contribution and incompatible components.

I’m not going to be less because they aren’t more. It hasn’t helped them be more. Affirming them hasn’t made them stronger, it’s just wiped me out. Giving them attention doesn’t satiate their need for attention, it just feeds it. It’s never enough.

Like feeding Seymour.

I’m going to go back to what I was doing before I allowed this situation to get out of hand again. I’m going to pray for them. And for me – That God will either change the situation or change my heart.


CLICK HERE to see other posts I’ve written about dealing with emotional bullies, narcissists and passive-aggressive people.

April 18, 2012 Posted by | christian living, crazymakers, intentional living, poor me some whine, youtube | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

step away from the puppy.

Warning: Sometimes, emotional bullies wear puppy suits.

wounded puppy suits.

And when you pay attention to them, the whimpering doesn’t get softer,
it gets louder. and louder and louder…

They require more and more of your time and attention. You can’t make them happy. You aren’t the reason they’re UNhappy.

But if you don’t give them the attention they want, they make sure everyone thinks you’re a puppy beater. “Look at that face. How could you be so mean to such a sweet little puppy?”

Communication fails, because if you don’t agree with them, you aren’t different, you are wrong. You’ve misunderstood them. You don’t appreciate all the sacrifices they make. You’re being mean to the puppy.

The constant whimpering is extremely distracting.

and mentally exhausting.

and apparently, I should not play poker. I don’t have the face for it.

I’ve decided to take the puppy beater title over the distraction and mental exhaustion. My strategy for self-preservation?
a·loof (adj.) Distant physically or emotionally; reserved and remote. Does that make me seem heartless?

yeah, I know. I’m praying the puppy tires of me and moves on to other food sources.

But Daffy understands.


CLICK HERE to see other posts I’ve written about dealing with emotional bullies, narcissists and passive-aggressive people.

April 16, 2012 Posted by | crazymakers, learning curve, poor me some whine, youtube | , , , , , | 1 Comment

desensitized.

I’m not one to avoid conflict. I’ve found that, much too often, constant unanimous agreement results in substandard ideas and dispassionate forward motion.

Confrontation doesn’t scare me. I don’t avoid conflict because I’m afraid of the person I need to confront or the possible repercussions of the confrontation.

That said, there are some situations in which I choose NOT to confront someone when a conflict develops. I wrote a post earlier this week entitled “Dear PinkGirl, don’t copy me.” where I confessed to being a hypocrite because I was coaching and expecting my daughter to stand up to a passive-aggressive person in her life and I was hit with the realization that I wasn’t standing up to a passive-aggressive person in my own life. It was one of those rare occasions where I recognized the contradiction between my words and actions before she did.

In my particular situation, someone in authority over me doesn’t want there to be a confrontation and I’m committed to respecting their wishes. But PinkGirl didn’t know that.

This left me with some splainin’ to do to my daughter. (CLICK HERE to read how that conversation went.)

But this entire situation has me thinking I should explain why confrontation doesn’t make me uncomfortable.

It’s not because I’m strong, though I admit I’ve been called a “strong-willed woman” more than a few times. It’s not because I have a degree in communication and have a conflict resolution model memorized and ready to mentally fill in at any time, although I do (have it memorized and am ready to use it).

It’s because I’m desensitized.

When you spend decades bombarded with emotional outbursts, ultimatums, silent treatments and guilt trips, you adapt and create a new normal. It’s required.

Because if you don’t, no matter how hard or long you climb up, you will live a roller-coaster emotional life with every drop controlled by someone else. This new normal is stable and steady and no matter who’s controlling the coaster, you remain unaffected. It’s like standing on that little walkway that runs along side the coaster – the one reserved for the people who take care of it, instead of on the tracks. You can walk along side, at your own pace, with no need to move out of the way. The coaster can come barreling along, full speed and no matter what’s propelling it – guilt, the silent treatment, tears, anger – you are off to the side, watching, protected because you aren’t in its path.

Guilt trips do not move me to action because, from my experience, when someone is attempting to make me feel guilty, they are, in reality, trying to manipulate me. I’ve had enough manipulation. I. am. unmoved.

Not because I’m strong. Or smart. Or pragmatic.

Because I’m desensitized.

The silent treatment will backfire when used on me. I’m immune. It’s like a free pass to ignore the person who refuses to speak to me. If I ask someone what’s wrong and they say “nothing,” I will take them at their word, no matter how much they continue to mope and pout.

Tears do not move me to give in. Tears do not move me to change my mind, do something that goes against the core of what I believe, or lie to someone to help them rationalize the truth and/or avoid the consequences of their choices. In the past, tears have moved me to do all of these things.

Not anymore.

When someone cries in front of me, especially someone with whom I’m involved a work relationship, I see two possibilities: (1) they are upset and they need a few minutes to compose themselves. (2) they are trying manipulate me (consciously or subconsciously) and get their way by eliciting sympathy from me.

Either way, my standard response is to sincerely tell the person who is crying that I’m sorry they are upset and give them a few minutes to compose themselves. And I really am sorry that they are upset, I just don’t believe I’m responsible for making them happy by doing what they want.

(This is only when someone wants something from me, I’m not saying that I’ve never done something I need to apologize for, because I have no problem apologizing when I’m wrong. The “splainin’ I did to PinkGirl about this included an “I was wrong and I’m sorry.” again, CLICK HERE to read how that went.)

Anger does not move me. When someone displays what appears to be an uncontrollable outburst of anger, spewing acrimonious language and accusations and sometimes even profanity?

I see them as weak. Unreasonable.

To be honest, when I’m blindsided by a verbal attack from someone I respect, my initial, internal reaction is to be defensive. I’m human. I want to “right back atcha.” But it’s fleeting. It’s a flash of adrenaline and then I let it go. Because I absolutely refuse to emulate the person who taught me that uncontrolled displays of anger are a sign of weakness. A tantrum is an irrational waste of time and counter-productive to ANY goal or healthy relationship. When my children had a tantrum, I usually had one of two things to say. Picture it:

In Walmart. Somebody wants something I’ve said they can’t have. The tantrum begins. People walking by. Staring. Sympathetic looks. Disapproving, “can’t you shut that kid up” looks. Me, leaning on the cart, elbow on the handle, chin in my hands. Waiting patiently. After a few moments, during a break in the screaming while the tantrum thrower takes a breath, I ask, “Are you done yet?” or “Is this working for you? Cause it’s not really working for me.” Sometimes, after asking “Are you done yet?” the kiddo would wail, “NOOoooooo!”

Okay then. (Just to confirm – the tantrum did not move me to buy anything.)

Because I see uncontrolled outbursts of anger as a sign of weakness, I’m able to give tantrum throwers grace. I usually don’t take it personally. When someone has an explosive outburst, I figure I’m the least of their problems. If I’m dealing with a child, I’ve got some serious character building opportunities and I usually take advantage of them if I can.

If I’m dealing with an adult, I tend to feel sorry for them. Any adult who handles a problem by throwing a tantrum probably isn’t throwing one for the first time. Somewhere along the line, it’s worked for them before and they’ve developed a pattern of behavior. Just like me. It’s just that our patterns of behavior are on opposite sides of the emotional scale.

There are a few adults in my life from whom I’ve come to expect such an attack. Those attacks are easy to deflect. Since I expect them, I’m prepped and ready.

You can probably guess that I don’t respect any of these behaviors and I can’t stomach any of them in myself. I don’t use guilt as a negotiation tool. I don’t cry or mope in front of someone who has the power to change my circumstance. I don’t gossip to garner support for my cause instead of talking directly to the people who have the authority to make decisions. I don’t scream or curse at people, no matter what they do.

But, as I explained in my post earlier this week, entitled “taut [tawt] adjective: emotionally or mentally strained or tense” it’s not because I stifle the emotions that lead to these behaviors. It’s just that, on an emotional scale of 1 to 10, I normally operate at about a 1 or a 2. I’m standing on the walkway next to the emotional roller coaster.

I’m desensitized.

I’m 47. This “lowered emotional state” is deeply rooted in my personality. Not many people get this about me without feeling sorry for me. Like I’m missing something or need to be “cured.” But keep in mind, it’s not that I’m incapable of emotion, just that I usually don’t let things get to me. I don’t want to be “cured.” I’m not missing anything. I’ve just had more than my fair share of high emotion already.

I like the calmness.


CLICK HERE to see other posts I’ve written about dealing with emotional bullies, narcissists and passive-aggressive people.

January 27, 2012 Posted by | christian living, crazymakers, family, intentional living, learning curve | , , , , | 1 Comment

Dear PinkGirl: don’t copy me.

There’s a certain person in my daughter’s life, who if she allows it, erodes her joy. I’ll call her TheBully. Without getting into detail, I’ll just say that her behavior toward PinkGirl is often passive-aggressive. Every day after school, PinkGirl tells me what TheBully did that day. And every day, PinkGirl and I talk about how she might handle her interactions with TheBully. I’ve encouraged her to include TheBully in her prayers.

I’ve asked PinkGirl to consider that there might be things in TheBully’s life that we aren’t aware of that make her unhappy and her unhappiness might be why she acts the way she does. I’ve explained that some unhappy people try to make themselves feel better by making other people unhappy too. They don’t know they’re doing it and while it really doesn’t make them feel any happier, it does make them feel less alone. I’ve called to her attention that TheBully is also unkind to other people and I’ve tried to help PinkGirl understand that she shouldn’t take it personally.

But I’ve also told PinkGirl that even if all those things are true, it doesn’t give TheBully the right to act the way she does.

It’s not okay.

PinkGirl and I talk about it at length and every day, I conclude by saying that I believe it’s possible for her to stand firm and not let TheBully control her actions. Every day, I tell PinkGirl that it’s possible to tell the truth – even truth that might hurt someone’s feelings – using gracious words. PinkGirl remains steadfastly unconvinced and consistently counters that TheBully will “tell lies” about her to “everybody.” “Everybody” will be mad at her. and she will get into big trouble with the teachers.

Every day, I tell PinkGirl that’s not true. And every day, she tell’s me I don’t understand and that I’m wrong.

The freakish optimist in me gets so exasperated with her. How can my daughter be such a pessimist?

And then I get smacked in the face with a little empathy.

There’s a certain person in my life, who, if I allow her, erodes my joy. I’ll call her Narcissa. Without getting into detail, I’ll just say that her behavior toward me is often passive-aggressive. After a few years of praying about – and relentlessly lamenting to my husband about – these interactions and countless discussions with him about why God is allowing this person in my life and what I’m supposed to do and say to her with the love of Christ, I finally . . . blocked her out. Literally and figuratively.

I’ve spent the last few months flat-lined against the messages in her body language, her wounded facial expressions and the disgruntled and sarcastic mumbling. And flat-line has been working for me.

somewhat.

Recently, the passive aggressive behavior morphed into a face to face, non-ignorable conversation. Skilled communicator that I am, I couldn’t think of one thing to say that fell in line with God’s command to speak in love. The words of the great philosopher, Thumper the bunny, kept echoing in my mind: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”

So I stood there, speechless.

A few days later, a colleague/friend, who had witnessed the encounter, brought it up. My first response was to assure her that it was okay and to explain that, by the grace of God, I was in a place that Narcissa’s behavior didn’t bother me and that my focus was on my work.

But then my friend, a fellow Christian, said, “It’s just been weighing heavy on my heart.”

oh.

I’m not in a place where I can simply block her out. And I couldn’t ignore the fact that God has used her in other situations in my life to point out things I couldn’t or wouldn’t see. As I listened to her explain how Narcissa’s behavior was affecting her, I silently prayed that God would give me the right words to say. My initial thought was to sooth her soul, to help her accept the behavior of the person who was causing her so much heartache. Not once did I consider the possibility that the issue could be resolved. When my friend mentioned speaking with Narcissa about all this, my immediate reaction was, “ohhhhh, nooooo. That would not be a good idea.”

As she persistently brought up possibilities of addressing the problem, one by one, I shot them down: Can’t do it. Never gonna happen. There’s no situation in which that would turn out well. The fall out would be too far reaching.

The next day, alone, I thought: Who was that? I’m freakishly optimistic. I believe “can’t” is a four letter word. My mantra is “Just because I haven’t thought of an answer doesn’t mean there isn’t one. I just haven’t figured it out yet.”

What kind of power does this person have over me that I would abandon such a core characteristic? What kind of power does she have over other people? What kind of power does she have?

and what kind of example am I setting for my daughter? I had to fess up.

In the car ride home from school,

I said: “So, I had an epiphany. Do you know what that is?”

PinkGirl: “no.”

Me: “It’s a realization. I realized something today. You know how every day you tell me what TheBully did and I tell you that you need to stand firm and not let her control your actions? How you need to talk to her and tell her the truth using gracious words – even if it will hurt her feelings? And how every day, you tell me that you can’t do that because she will tell everyone lies and the teachers will get you in trouble and everyone will be mad at you …

PinkGirl: “Well not my real friends.”

Me: “True. But am I getting all this right? Am I leaving anything out?

PinkGirl: “No. That’s pretty much it.”

Me: “I realized I’m doing the same thing you are. Who’s TheBully in my life?”

PinkGirl, quick as a flash: “Narcissa.”

Me: “yep. I realized that I’m expecting you to do something I’m not willing to do myself. I just wanted to tell you that I’m sorry for getting so frustrated with you when you refuse to try and work out your problems with TheBully.”

So. Now I either have to start coaching PinkGirl about how to physically and emotionally distance herself from TheBully or I have to refocus my efforts on preventing Narcissa’s passive-aggressive behavior from negatively impacting my thoughts and actions.

If you read my last post, I should probably steer clear of Narcissa for a while. Because right this minute, emotions are not a factor in my decision-making and communication. I could easily, objectively and thoroughly tell Narcissa the truth and be completely unaffected by ANY reaction she has.

Unfortunately, because there are other people involved who would be negatively impacted by the repercussions of an honest conversation with Narcissa, I think my best course of action is to keep praying the prayer I’ve been praying for years: “Lord, if you won’t change my circumstances, please change my attitude.” If I want to shake the Hypocrite Certificate, I think I need to teach PinkGirl that same prayer. And how to physically and emotionally duck and weave to stay out of TheBully’s line of sight.


CLICK HERE to see other posts I’ve written about dealing with emotional bullies, narcissists and passive-aggressive people.

January 25, 2012 Posted by | christian living, crazymakers, family, intentional living, laugh!, learning curve, poor me some whine, pragmatic commotion, pragmatic communion, pragmatic parenting, prayer, women | , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

   

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