When the truth bites you in the ass

Sometimes you can’t avoid a truth you would rather not confront. Without looking squarely at the actual situation, and understanding how it works, no solution will ever be possible. So if you are tormented in a relationship you will need to find a way to grasp the dynamic, and assess the damage being done, before you can end the torment.

A parent’s overwhelming need to feel in control and infallible, constantly undermining your own needs is a brutal thing to look at directly. It is natural to make accommodations, learn to accept blame for things you didn’t actually do, flatter the parent when necessary, learn when to withdraw, swallow a response, put on a false smile. These do not really solve anything, but they keep the ongoing harm to a minimum since you avoid fresh conflict with them.

The next step, the painful but freeing one, is understanding that this parent is not capable of behaving any better. They are stuck in unresolved pain from their own earlier life. They may not know how to resolve conflicts peacefully. You may tell everyone that your mother is a goddess, and she may smile, and bask in your admiration, but if you explain that you were calling your mother a goddess only to avoid her rage, she will make you pay for your unappreciated candor.

There are truths we resist because they undermine things we value greatly. At the same time, there is no healthy alternative when you understand the mistreatment you’ve been forced to tolerate. Someone who forces you to tolerate the intolerable does not love you very well.

What is hateful to you do not do unto another” is an excellent and practicable formulation of the Golden Rule. We all know what we hate, we probably know it better than almost anything. So if I am doing something to you that I hate done to me, you will, and should, point this out to me. If my answer is “yeah, you hate it, maybe even I hate it, but fuck you, this is all you deserve and all you’ll ever get from me” you should very much take me at my word.

Every day that you don’t take me at my word, and hope that somehow love will prevail, is a day that the unacknowledged truth (that my final word to you is fuck your fucking feelings, asshole) is taking another giant bite out of your ass. In the end you’ll have no ass left, a very bad way to live.

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