Many times I have read stories on the internet that deal with the subject of abuse, and often there is the phrase “trigger warning” at or near the beginning. It is meant to prepare a reader to expect content that could possibly agitate them, remind them of their own issues related to abuse. Sounds like a good idea.
Personally, I have never been triggered in this way, but I do admit that some stories have caused me pause, made me cringe or suck in my breath just because …. because it hurts to know there are so many that have experienced something that I find familiar.
What does trigger me, however, is when I witness even a hint of disrespect. Usually it is verbal abuse, the kind that people like this think they can get away with. They throw down some sly caustic remarks out of the corner of their mouth, smirk and walk away knowing that they have delivered a blow that disables and even wounds. Sometimes it is out and out anger thrust into the air with a loud voice and piercing red eyes fully intent on threatening the victim with the possibility of physical harm.
I have a personal stake in this observation. My boundaries were crossed far to often and in very damaging ways, for years. I have climbed out from under the weight of these experiences but this has left me with a lightening-rod sensitivity to this kind of abuse and a hair-trigger that brings up my anger.
These abusers are the weak ones, the angry ones and they take up far too much space in this world. Damn them. They should keep their fucking anger to themselves and go home and deal with it, like so many of us have had to do ….. alone in the dark and confused and afraid …. and yet we do it. We stick with it, we figure it out. We are the brave and courageous ones, they are the weak ones.
Why am I writing this now, here, today? Because one of my younger co-workers had to call me today to tell me about the ongoing verbal abuse he has been subjected to by a senior manager, a senior manager that always makes a point to come up and shake my hand every day, big smile and lots of respect. Now I find out that that smile is a smokescreen he puts up to shield himself from any suspicion that he may be angry and out of line. When he shakes my hand like that, what he is doing is incorporating me into his costume of a respectful and capable man. Now I find out I am being co-opted into a false representation, I am being used.
And I am very pissed off. Because I am being used by someone that abuses. Pissed off. Lots.
It is within my job description to address this issue, and look what has happened? I am angry! I am angry because someone else acts with anger, largely because it reminds me of how I was treated as a kid.
This is a clear reminder that my anger was seeded into me through the anger and misbehaviour of others. The ongoing disrespect that I experienced as a kid made me angry, and unfortunately it became one of my traits. I have set it down now, but it took some time and serious reflection to understand what I was in the middle of.
To deal with this situation at work, I have to remember my walk into my own lion’s den and accept that they have their own lion’s den as well.
Damn. My eight-year old grandson would say one word ….. karma.