Monday, October 15, 2007

If I had a hammer, I’d a hammer out a warning…

The old song keeps going through my head today. The reality is if I had a hammer, I’d probably build a triangle.

I don’t mean a useful one, rather one along the lines of a triangle between people. One where I’m the focal point. Or end up the focal point. No matter how you look at it, it’s not good.

My mother triangulated her children. Divide and conquer. By telling one of us about the other, and then something else to another, all in deep secrecy, she kept us in line. Made us feel special. It also has left a deep scar on open and honest communication between us.

We are supposed to keep the secrets. It always surprises me when I get in trouble for writing about some of the unthinkable things that happened in my childhood- hello? Did I do them? Excuse me, but I think the drinking my mother did was her own choice. The message was clear- don’t ever say a word about what happened. Play by the rules and you will be kept in the favorite circle.

Challenge the rules? You are out. Done. Gone. Disowned.

I had a boss like that once. I didn’t understand until I’d been gone for a while how I’d been played like a cheap violin. So familiar was the call to play secrets and triangles, avoiding it was like trying to diet working in a bakery. Not going to happen.

Problem is, it’s a terrible way to live. Always holding someone’s secrets, always vying to be the special one… for me? It’s translated into many of my adult relationships. I don’t mean to do it. I don’t want to get involved in them.

But I do. Often without even realizing what I’ve done.

It’s not about keeping a secret. I can do that. I’ve kept secrets for people who I don’t even like anymore. It’s not about being trustworthy. It’s about having someone leverage you, to work in his or her favor. Or you doing the same to someone else.

Case in point: I do something today I feel terrible about- I’ve caused an unintentional injury. I didn’t mean to, but I did. I got my hammer out and start building a triangle to someone else, who also knows the injured party.

Why? Because I don’t want to be a bad person. I don’t want to be viewed in any kind of negative way. So quick… I rushed to defend myself with…someone else?

After getting an “I’m not getting involved” response I realized what I did.

Duh. I went for the hammer instinctively. Imagine my surprise when I dealt directly with the injured and actually- gasp- created good will. Connection. Understanding.

Go figure.

It’s not about my mother or an old boss, or anyone else anymore. It’s about recognizing the draw, feeling my head start to turn in another direction and stopping it. Or seeing any dangling promise of intimacy at the cost of others as a useless triangle that only hurts people in the long run. I have to stop it. Take my lumps, directly, good or bad. Stop being so… wounded.

And put the damn hammer down.


Post a Comment

<< Home