To (verbally) cave someone’s chest in

It is exceedingly rare and  hard to get me into moments in which I’m tempted to give my not-so-better-angels full rein. Moments when I’d like to (figuratively) cave someone’s chest in, through the use of well-aimed words.

Now, I know caving a chest in is something of a harsh visual. I learned the phrase in late December 1969, in reform school, the New Hampton Training School for Boys. It was located, not surprisingly, in New Hampton, part of New York State’s, Orange County.

Learned the phrase only days after my arrival. I heard one boy, my age, say to another boy, who’d angered him, “Say that again, I’ll cave your fucking chest in.”

Right away I realized that my big threat when angered, “Say that again and I’ll punch you in the nose,” sorely lacked the drama and breath-taking imagery his did. I’ve never ever threatened to punch a person in the nose since.

The impulse to verbally “cave a chest” in is infrequent for me these days. Has been for many years. 

However, blatant human cruelty can push my buttons.

I’ve verbally caved White Power Icon Stephen Miller’s chest in many times, Trump’s too.

It’s much harder, though,  when the blatant cruelty you are facing has been aimed at you by someone who would swear to the high heavens they love you (and you genuinely love and care about) who will, lose their shit, as the saying goes, at aim sentences at you that are rooted in heartlessness, absence of any empathy, and,  reeking of so much self-absorption you’re thinking, not without reason, narcissist.

The challenge, at least for those in my position, is what to do. One thing is for sure, not tolerate an iota of cruelty from anyone, much less one who claims to love you, is the place to start, and understanding, massively hard as that is, that another person’s unhealthy and destructive behavior does not deserve so much power in your life, it leads you to make choices you’d later regret having made.

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Protecting from a loved one

They are not easy times when you must, I believe, protect yourself from someone you love. It can require disengaging them from your life.

There are any number of real reasons for this being the healthiest choice on the table, but none are, the person I need to protect myself from is a bad person, a bad human being. Unhealthy? Yes. Bad? No. Absolutely not. The range of problematic conditions has its fair share of members, alcohol, drugs, addiction, personality disorders, and so on. These elements know no bigotry.

That someone we may need to distance themselves from someone doesn’t make them a bad person and it doesn’t free them of their responsibility for wounding others, as well as themselves.

When someone fires off a few sentences of verbal cruelty, say, I believe the self-inflicted wound runs deeper and does more damage to the perpetrator. Someone tangled up in behavior patterns that wound the lives of others – lacking any empathy whatsoever in some cases – already has a low self-esteem, whether they realize it, admit it, or don’t.

A person in this kind of struggle has basically two choices.  They can recognize the unhealthy patterns they’re  in, and get the help and support they deserve, and get free of them. Or, they can surrender their lives to a method of life-management that guarantees conflict, pain, suffering, heartbreak, and guilt. Everyone of us deserves the chance to get well. Not everyone realizes it when getting well is necessary.

The reason the perpetrator takes the deeper wound is this. On some level, he or she knows what they are doing is wounding and abusive and looks to degrade the target. So each time the perpetrator strikes, he or she is reaffirming the message they got taught about themselves, when some where along the line, they may have been degraded, even on a daily basis, often by some adult who could not be escaped.

In fact, I know of some wonderful acronyms for the word, FEAR. It can mean, Face Everything And Recover, or, Fuck Everything And Run.

My instinct is wedded to the former.

Not nice is not strong

If someone says, “I know I’m not being nice to you, but I have to be tough,” they’ve memorialized the completely false assertion that being unkind is, somehow, an act of strength.

Rubbish.  Being unkind requires no strength. Zero. All it does is wound, and repulse.

Giving anger decision making power is a lot easier than managing it in a healthy way. Anger, in and of itself, is not the problem, the relation one has with it can be.

Respect is never too much to ask for; neither is kindness.