Love as a Weapon

Love as a Weapon
Love as a Weapon

Our marriage group (Retrouvaille) meets once a month. At these meetings, we talk about our strengthening our relationship as a married couple.

The topic revolved around our loving relationship and how we appreciate each other. During this discussion, I realized I use love as a weapon. This sounds impossible since love is an emotion involved with giving yourself to the other. Love isn’t associated with weapons or war.

Leave it to me to find a way to use an emotion related to beauty and selfless kindness and turn it into a weapon.

Yes, I can give my love freely when I please. I can love my family unconditionally.

However, once I have a problem with my family from jealousy, I can withhold my love. I can make them feel unloved until they make up for my jealous emotions. This is not impossible since my jealously is based in past experiences. My family in the present cannot resolve problems from my past.

Instead of using my love as a weapon. I must stop and figure out why I’m trying to hurt my family through withholding my love and deal with that. I need to figure out why I’m in my emotional shadow. Once I realize I’m in-shadow, I need to feel and deal with my past.

I don’t know where the towels go.

I don't know where the towels go.
I don’t know where the towels go.

“I don’t know where the towels go.”
“I don’t know where the towels go.”
“I don’t know where the towels go.”
“I don’t know where the towels go.”

That’s what I hear in my head every-time I look at our dinning room table. The dinning room table is heaped with the clothes from 3 boys and 2 adults. Some of it is sectioned off according to the person it belongs to. Some of it is communal clothes like towels.

“I don’t know where the towels go.”

That’s what I hear in my head every-time I look around our house at the dirty clothes lying around waiting to be gathered and put in the laundry system we have at the house. This system consists of one hamper for darks, one hamper for colors, one hamper for whites, and one hamper for reds. Most of these hampers are empty.

“I don’t know where the towels go.”

That’s what I hear in my head every-time I step over clothing to get to my bed at night. The low inner nagging voice that’s constantly reminding me there’s something big and scary waiting to jump out and not kill me, but cause me great physical pain and humiliation.

“I don’t know where the towels go.”

I just try to ignore these words, but a constant concept that I’m reminded of all the time. These constant words taunt me only to remind me of the despair I am stuck with.

One of my jobs is the laundry in the house. Two of the last three weekends involved my family camping. With camping comes the mountains of dirty clothes that has accumulate from:

  • The week leading up to the trip because we’re focusing on packing and having “camping” clothes.
  • The previous laundry loads that was piling up.
  • The actually clothes we used during camping.
  • The backup of clothes that turns into a mountain once all the camping clothes are washed.

“I don’t know where the towels go.”

You see, in our house, we don’t actually have a spot for the towels. We kinda have some places where they go, but nothing defined. If I put them there, it kinda adds to the laundry mess. I’m also waiting for something scary, painful and humiliating to happen, so there’s no need to spark that into happening.

In essence, the whole “laundry machine” comes to a screeching halt.

With the halt of the “laundry machine”, the downfall of the whole tidy house system falls apart. It’s too monumentous to restart again. Also, if I just ignore it, maybe it’ll go away and things can restart on their own.

“I don’t know where the towels go.”

I try to restart the “laundry machine” it might break for good never to be restarted again. I can try to restart this “laundry machine” quietly once I give it sometime to calm down. Did I also mention I’m deftly afraid of the scary thing waiting to jump out and cause my great physical harm and humiliation?

“I don’t know where the towels go.”

So when my loving wife sees that the “laundry machine” has stopped, she does come up with some great ideas to restart the machine. She makes some great suggestions like we should just take it all to the laundromat and get it all done.

“I don’t know where the towels go.”

She doesn’t hear the constant voice reminding me of my failure. The voice that points to an impending doom wrapped up in pain and humiliation. She doesn’t feel the feeling of terror that is just around the corner if she wakes the monster. It’s a monster waiting to pounce and renders his destruction and terror on all that is around when things aren’t done.

I then become the monster I fear. I become the terror, painful, and humiliating person I fear most.

What should I do?

Stop ignoring the voice. Recognize the fear I have. The fear I have is from my past. A time when I was terrified of having to clean up with no hope of an end. The painful and humiliating moments when I failed at a task I didn’t know how to finish. That fear was brought to the present moment. I projected that terror on my current family life. That terror was imposed on my happy family. A terror from my past that I now have control over if I give up that control to the False Evidence Appearing Real.

I’m a man with my own family setting my own rules. No need to live it the past. I can become the monster I fear or I can take ownership of my life.

I know where the towels go. They go where I want them to.

Emotions of Fear

Emotions from FearAs true men, we have emotions that stem from everything thing I do. Daily life of family and work can create situations ripe for emotions to flourish.

Of the emotions I experience, I find them fitting into 2 main categories. These categories color my emotions. The categories also reveal the undercurrents my emotions have. By understanding which category my emotions land in, I can better understand where these emotions are rooted and point to the underlying properties that sparked these emotions.

At our basic and simplest emotional level, we have 2 categories of emotions. When we boil down our emotions to it’s core feeling, they ultimately involve:

  • Fear
  • Love

As you can understand if you’ve been following my emotional progress, I will experience an emotional outburst that disrupts my life. Once I realize I’m having an emotional problem, I examine the emotions I’ve experienced and explore the reasons behind them. Once I reflect on bases of my emotions, I can trace them back to either Fear, Love, or both.

Lets examine emotion from Fear.

Fear

Fear is the most powerful emotion in our arsenal of feelings. It’s a primitive reaction that preserves our lives by preventing us from doing things that will cause us harm.

When my emotions arise out of fear I shutdown to all other emotions. The fearful emotions overwhelm all other emotions and leave me with only this base threat.

Most of the time, these fearful emotions are just knee jerk reactions. Sometimes these emotions are an auto-response emotion. I don’t want to deal with the underlying emotion that is too painful to handle at the time

Only when I take a step back and reflect on the feelings can I really understand the true nature behind the emotion.

Sadness

The feeling of sadness is an emotion resulting in loss. With loss, I am afraid of never having what I want. Losses can revolve around stature, hope, trust, health, life, or companionship.

Sadness can come from grief, dread, or grieving.

Dread

The emotion of dread is not just a fear I have. Dread is an emotion that stems from a known fear that you must face. Dread is the knowledge of having to face your worst fear.

Panic

A panic attack is like having a mini heart attack. Panic attacks are serious events that are impossible to understand if they haven’t been felt, which is why those that have experienced a panic attack often live in fear of experiencing another one.

Anxiety

All of us feel some anxiety from stress, such as nervousness or butterflies before a date or job interview.

This anxiety is a normal part of daily life and the “fight or flight” response to stress. It can even motivate us do our best or solve problems and make changes in our lives. For many people, however, anxiety and panic attacks start interfering with daily life and activities. When this happens, it’s worth getting help. Anxiety disorders are common and treatable, and don’t have to control your life.

In my next blog post, I will explore the emotions that stem from Love.

Stressful Emotions

Stressful Emotions
Negative emotions arise from stressful situations.

Negative emotions arise from stressful situations. In stressful situations, us men get into “fight or flight” mode. When these emotions overrun, we feel out of control and the problems get worse and worse. I had a recent situation where I along with my family was tired and hungry. Everyone was on their last threads and ready to break.

Recently, I found myself driving a minivan fill with my family including our pet dog and pulling a trailer filled with our weekend of camping gear (we don’t pack lite when camping).

After 5 days of camping and a 3 hour drive, we needed some lunch and decided to pull off the freeway to an “In and Out” restaurant. This didn’t seem like a big deal, so you know stress is around the corner.

As I exit the freeway I find myself driving behind a bicyclist who’s wearing a backpack with a small BBQ tied to it. Not only that, this bicyclist is playing “air” drums while riding (which should be against some law). I wouldn’t be bothered much if he was actually listening to music, but there were no headphones to be seen.

Now, I’ve ridden bicycles before while doing some crazy things:

  • Eating a watermelon
  • Talking on the phone
  • Walking a dog1

But I’ve never done these things while in the middle of the street with other cars behind me. Also, I was always in full control of my bicycle in the bike lane. I was never swerving all over the car lane. This rider was clearly beating to a different drum.

Did I mention before we had been camping for the past 5 days in the wilderness just 10 miles from the border with Mexico.2 Did I also mention we were overdue for some lunch and I have 3 small hungry boys who have been stuck in our minivan for the past 3 hours.

They all wanted to tell me their “In and Out” needs at the same.

  • Did I mention they were tired and hungry?
  • Did I mention that I was tired and hungry?

You can imagine the “Fight or Flight” mode I had in this situation. Unfortunately, I couldn’t “flight” since I was trapped in a car, in a drive-thru. I was in “fight” mode and had no one to actually fight. I should’ve been in a fight against myself, but the only ones I could fight was those around me; my loved ones.

We seem to have 2 types of emotions. Emotions from love and emotions from fear. With these stressful situations and being in “fight” mode, I was having emotions that were based in fear. I had fears of:

  • Crazy people threatening my family
  • Not providing basic needs of my starving family
  • Being trapped

All of my emotions can be broken down to my fears. We can break FEAR down to:

  • False
  • Evidence
  • Appearing
  • Real

The crazy bicyclist wasn’t actually threatening my family (he was just being odd). My children hungry were not going to starve to death. My feeling of being trapped in a cage could’ve been solved by letting my wife drive and actually going for a walk.

Stressful situations is a hot bed for bad emotions. As a man with emotion, you must recognize these situations will spark problems. Be on your guard to expect your emotions to get out of hand. Like I’ve mentioned before in my “Feeling and Dealing” post, acknowledge and give voice to your emotions. Deal with them and the fears you have. Only then can you move on.


1Not certain you can call it “walking the dog” since I’m on a bicycle.
2My cellphone was trying to tell me I was in Mexico the whole time (apparently connection to a cell tower in Mexico).

Flowcharts

FlowChartI have flow charts that run my life.  Every interaction I have with people relies on a flow chart.  My flow charts are listed on sub levels in my brain I am unaware of. I know they exist because my world comes crashing down when people don’t follow my flow charts.

Flowchart Origins

I’m sure as a little kid, to bring order to the chaos that was my childhood, I formed these logic flow charts.  As a little boy, when I did get in trouble or something went wrong, nobody ever reasoned the outcome for me.  I had to figure out the reasoning myself.

Let’s see how this works:

  1. As a small child, I am loud in a public restaurant.
  2. Dad gets mad at me.
  3. I get spanked.

Pretty straight forward.  Kids shouldn’t be loud and rough housing in a public restaurant.  I also learn:

  1. One of my siblings is loud.
  2. Dad gets mad
  3. Everyone gets in trouble

I now have these 2 flow charts assembled.  It doesn’t take much to blend them a bit to:

  1. People get loud
  2. Dad gets mad
  3. I get spanked

As an adult, I have no father around, so  I can make my own rules.  I don’t break from this cycle because I have the fear of God in me every time my kids get loud.  I get mad at my children.

I never stop and say, “Wait a minute!  We’re at Chuck-e-Cheese.  You can be as loud and crazy as you want.”  Or, “Wait a minute!  There’s nobody else in the restaurant to care.”

I have thousands of these flow charts in my head and I am always discovering them after the fact.

Here’s a big one I just discovered.  My wife gives me unconditional love.  I’ve learned love isn’t given freely.  There are 2 routes I can go.

Route A:  Reject the love.

When my wife gives me unconditional love I truly feel I don’t deserve it.  I’m not going to tell her I don’t want it because I do, but I didn’t earn it according to my rules and flow charts.  I’ll have to make her mad at me so she’ll take it back.  Then I can do something wonderful to make up for it all and she will then give it to me in a clean, laundered form.

Route B: Accept the love

Another way to allow myself the freely given love is to actually earn it once received.  Before I can truly enjoy the love I freely receive, I have to work hard for it first.  I have to do something special before I can receive this love.  (

This usually doesn’t go well in 2 different ways.  Either my wife’s love is reject because I haven’t paid the proper tribute.  Or,  I pay proper tribute and I’m not given the love I deserve.

Either way, this never goes well.

What to do?

The primary step to solve this problem is realizing in our brains, we have these flowcharts set up.  We have setup these flowcharts to add logic to our chaotic world.  As adults, we are in control of our lives and are no longer stuck in the past world of chaos.

I am constantly rediscovering these flowcharts I’ve setup in my life.  I have to identify them, and shatter them (because, like it or not, I will make the flowchart match my world.  If my flowchart requires something bad to happen as an end result, I will make sure that bad thing happens).

Monsters

Hello. My name is Tom. I am a monster.Monsters

If you know me, you probably think I’m kidding.

I’m not.

My wife sent be a pretty powerful video that really resonated with me. The video (see below) starts with a kid walking with someone. Maybe her parent. She has a really disturbed look on her face. You come to find she’s walking with some zombie mother. This zombie mother represents her alcoholic mother. This is the way she see her mother.

I am that monster too.

Now, I don’t think I’m an alcoholic, but I seem to hold the same tendencies an alcoholic parent has. I sometimes loose it with my children and become that monster.

At least now, I have an image of what I look like when my emotions take over.

It’s ironic that I fear these monsters. In my fear I become what I most fear. I pass this fear on to my children so they can also be monsters.

Time to break that cycle.

Not Reacting

Not Reacting

imageIn my In Shadow post, I mentioned not reacting.

When I look back on my “not reacting” statement, I had a twinge of emotion that said, “that’s just stuffing your emotions again.”

I want to clarify this statement.

When I get in shadow, I am in “fight or flight” mode. If I find myself in “fight” mode, I am looking for a fight. I have this perception that if I make the fight happen, it will end the shadow. Of course, this is all happening at a sub-conscience level and I’m not realizing it. I’m only aware of this after the fact when I reflect on myself.

I end up creating a fight (usually with my lovely wife). This always ends up in creating more problems.

One morning, I was pissed at everything. The dishes weren’t done. The house was a mess. I had to do everything. I was mad and I wanted a fight. I had a moment of clarity where I thought, “I’m just looking for a fight.  If I find a fight, it won’t go well.”

With this thought, I could avoid any serious interaction with my family.  Once I was in a safer place, I was able to reflect and realize I was having some jealousy problems with something that happened the night before.

Don't react to outside emotions.
Don’t react to outside perceptions.

Stuffing your feelings is taking an inside feeling and not dealing with it.

Not reacting is shielding yourself from outside perceptions so it doesn’t turn into inside hurt.

In Shadow

In Shadow

I was triggered again.In Shadow

When I’m triggered, it seems like I’m back in the matrix. I don’t feel like myself. All hope is gone and there is nothing I can do to fix or make things better.

I refer to this as being “In Shadow” state.

Being “in shadow” is a state of mind that can be summarized as absolute terror. In a nightmare experience. Here’s where it gets tricky. You are awake, but there’s still a feeling of terror. All your senses seem to be alive and more heightened. It’s a state of fight or flight, but there’s nothing to run from.

It’s a state of panic.

I don’t like the term panic. Panic doesn’t seem to be a manly word to me. When I think of panic, I get images of:

  • Scared children
  • Women running
  • Wimps

I like the term, “in shadow” because that seems more mysterious to me. But I need to face facts. I get in a state of panic and I want to run in fear.

Either way you call it, it’s a state of “fight or flight” with nothing to “fight” nor “flight” from. This seems to be the ultimate problem. So far, I’ve had 2 reactions to this mode:

  1. Don’t react to anything. I’m in “fight” mode and anything perceived as a problem is really me looking for a fight. I want a fight so I can end this panic feeling. Of course, that just makes things worse.
  2. Feel it and deal with it. There is an underlying reason I’m being triggered. Find that reason and face it.

Feeling and Dealing

Touching EmotionsIf you read my posts up to this point, then you have an understanding of my emotional process.

  1. I have some experience that triggers a past memory/emotion that is hard to deal with.
  2. In a “knee jerk” reaction, I stuff/squash that memory/emotion.
  3. Later, this memory/emotion makes it’s way to the surface and I am set off.
  4. My wife (or myself) notices I am having a problem.
  5. I feel and deal with my stuffed/squashed memory/emotion.

Today, I am focusing on #5 and my process of feeling and dealing with my emotions.

Scary Memory/Emotion

For me, my emotions are the scariest things in the world. They involve fear and pain like a terrified child who wakes up in the middle of the night from a fierce dream only to find him completely trapped dark and scarier bedroom. A fear that hopelessly cries in terror with no response.

When these emotions surface, I have 2 options:

  • Squash or stuff it.
  • Feel it and Deal with it

Throughout my entire life, I have squashed these feelings.  This has always been a temporary fix that just leads to more hurt feelings.  I have found when I squash my feelings, I cannot tolerate others having feelings.

If I’m feeling jealous, I will squash that feeling of jealously.  If there are others around me like my wife and kids.  If they express feelings such as joy or happiness, my first painful feeling is more jealousy.  After all, how can they feel joy when I am trying to squash my feelings.  How dare they!

You can image this leading to more hurt feelings and me yelling at my wife and kids to shut them down.  Even make them feel the way I do to justify my feelings.

Feel it

The best way to truly end this horrible feeling is to feel it. In someways, this feeling has surfaced (since it’s presented itself in #4). In another way, I am truly trying to stuff it and not see it. Because it is so scary, I fight this feeling with all my will power not to see it.

To finally own this feeling, I have to find it and uncover it. I do this through writing. With writing, I find it is a safe way to express a feeling. I can write some pretty horrible stuff on paper and it won’t effect anyone. I can write my deepest and darkest anger and nobody will get hurt.

What is really great about writing, is you know when you hit the feeling. In my writing, I find myself skirting around he emotion until I hit it. Then the emotional floodgates erupt. The wave of emotions you have been holding back let go and it’s an emotional release that is physically and emotionally powerful.
The bigger the emotion, the more powerful the experience.

Deal with it

Once I find and experience the emotion with the physical and emotional release, I can now deal with that emotion. Along with the emotions comes memories and background. I experience the moment that triggered these emotions. I have to reassure myself these emotions are in the past and things have changed. I am an adult. I cannot change the past, but I can make things better now.

Warnings

Make sure you are in a safe place. I have an understanding with my wife when I have this emotions, I say, “I have something to deal with.” Then I goto our bedroom and lock the door. This is my safe place. I am not to come out until I have felt the feeling. If I get emotionally worked up, and then have to come out and deal with anything, it could be disastrous.

Make sure you have a safe place and an understanding that you’re dealing with some tough emotions. Interruptions won’t go well.

Also, most of the time, in dealing with my emotions, there is always these thoughts:

  • This is so stupid
  • What a lame emotion
  • These are childish emotions

Well of course their stupid, lame, and childish emotions.  These are usually deep emotional wound that have not been dealt with and need to be.  Do not judge the emotions.  Just write them down.  By labeling these emotions, it’s an attempt to squash/stuff it.  Don’t!  Otherwise, you’ll be dealing with it again.

Feel It!

Deal with it!

Move on!

Projection

SeriousManWith a passive aggressive personality, I do not like my emotions.  My emotions are scary and I do not know how to deal with them.  My emotions seem to always get in the way of me enjoying my life.  After all, how can I be happy if I have sad emotions?

I tend to repress my emotions, but this only works to a certain extent with my emotions.  At one point, my emotions makes their way out to surfacing one way or another.

Surfacing Emotions

No matter how hard I try to repress my emotions, they always bubble out to the surface when I least expect it.

I am reminded of when Ambassador Sarek was afflicted with the Bendii Syndrome at the age of 201. Like Alzheimer’s Disease for Vulcans. All his repressed emotions came blasting to the surface.  This is how emotions surface for me1.

CryingManWhen these emotions surface, I find my need to disguise them into my reality.  Otherwise, I will be forced to confront then (and of course I cannot confront my emotions).  I accomplish this by projecting my emotions on others.  Here’s how it actually happens.

  1. get link Repressed emotion.  A repressed emotion is triggered by a situation.   How about a mother’s rejection.  That’s always a good festering emotional pain I have.
  2. follow Wallow.  Once the emotion is triggered, to bring it to it’s fullest effect, I have to wallow in all the emotional pain.  Just like the Whos calling out, “WE ARE HERE,” to be heard and recognized.
  3. Find someone safe.  There is always someone safe to use.  After all, since they love you, they are willing to participate in your emotions.  If they truly loved you, they will understand.  My wife is someone who I feel safe with.  She will not hurt me intentionally, so she is the perfect candidate for my projections2.
  4. go to link Project.  Take that emotional pain that has wallowed up inside you and project the cause onto person found in #3.  Make them truly feel your hurt that is very real to you from your wallowing in #2.

Kind of twisted to task someone who feels safe and project such horrible emotions.  Here’s another example:

  1. enter source site Find repressed emotion.  I was taught to fear my father or get spanked.
  2. Wallow.  Take that emotion and really feel the fear I had.  Relish in the little boy feeling of getting spanked for some unknown reason.
  3. Find someone safe.  How about my kids.  They are really safe.  They can not even fight back.  They are always getting in trouble, so they will be an easy target.
  4. Project.  They did something bad and they need to feel the fear I felt as a kid.  They better cower in fear.  I am talking about fetal position in the corner fear.

Not Condone

I understand this is disturbing behavior and I do not condone any of it in any way.  This is more of an understanding on how and why projection happens.

Prevention

In the steps 1-4, projection does not surface until #4.  I am married to a wonderful woman who can detect when I am projecting in #4.  I would like to get to the point where I catch this behavior at steps 1, 2, and 3, but that has not happened yet.

When I am called on this behavior, I can easily repress it.  Repression is not the solution because it will just resurface elsewhere.  The true way to prevent this from happening again is to feel the emotion.

In my next post, I will write about how I feel and deal with these emotions.

1 In no way am I trying to equate myself with Ambassador Sarek
2 Of course this is twisted logic to use and abuse someone you love.