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#423179 - 01/25/13 07:50 AM “H@llmark” triggers
traveler Online   confused

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 4287
Loc: resettling in NE Ohio
I got ambushed by a greeting card. The H@llmark shop is a dangerous place for me. Any rack of cards can hold treacherous expressions of sentiment that can trigger intensely painful memories and emotions. When I have to enter the place I can usually steel myself to run the gauntlet, put on blinders to look at only the section that is relevant and avoid the obvious pitfalls. but once in a while one card strays out of its category, hides out under cover of mingling with a different crowd, and surprises me.

The most recent attack came not from “H@llmark” but from another brand - an innocuous-looking birthday card designed for a son:

“You are loved for the little boy you were,
the special man you are now,
and the wonderful son you’ll always be.”

It is warm and loving and perfect – and absolutely foreign to my experience growing up or my treatment as an adult. I can’t even imagine receiving such a message – but crave it all the more because of its impossibility.

I’ve always had problems finding suitable cards for my parents – most of the time I settled for one with a nice picture on the front and just a minimal greeting – “happy birthday” or “happy mother’s day” – or whatever. They don’t make cards for what I really feel about them – “If you enjoyed the way you screwed up my life, then at least one of us got something out of it!” … or worse things that I can think of!

My wife wanted to send valentine cards to all our family members. For our kids and their spouses and the odd aunt and uncle - that is OK with me. But she wanted to send one to my mom (the only remining parent on either side) – I am not OK with that. My mom was a silent, passive accomplice, in my eyes – to the step-dad’s abuse, nearly as guilty as he was because of her refusal to admit what was going on – and her refusal to intervene. I don’t want to send her a card that gushes over how much I love her or how she is the best mom in the world – or even wishes her a generic happy day. The card was sent, despite my opposition – i said – “I don’t want to – but if you do – I just don’t care.” At least I didn’t have to pick it out.

At what point is it OK to ignore the nice conventions of polite society, quit doing all the things that are expected – and honestly speak and act the way you truly feel – in keeping with the reality of the situation and relationship?

How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?...
Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails....
Habakkuk 1:2-3

#423182 - 01/25/13 10:05 AM Re: “H@llmark” triggers [Re: traveler]
Jacob S Offline

Registered: 01/01/13
Posts: 699
Loc: where the shadows lie
Originally Posted By: traveler

At what point is it OK to ignore the nice conventions of polite society, quit doing all the things that are expected – and honestly speak and act the way you truly feel – in keeping with the reality of the situation and relationship?


Those are two different questions, both of them good one. First: when is it appropriate to stop doing the expected thing? and two: when it is time to honestly speak the way you feel? I'd say the time to stop doing the expected thing is whenever you want. No one is "owed" a greeting card, no matter how much the shopping malls and the postal service would like us to believe otherwise. I send cards to a very few select people. That makes them special, at least to me.

Back when I did feel obligated to send my parents cards, I agree that I could never find a good one. I'd usually just pick the one with the least number of words.

The second question, about speaking honestly to the reality of the situation, is probably best not done via greeting card, facebook, or any other "casual" means. For me, if I can't/won't/not-ready-to have a real conversation with them, I am ok with just ignoring them for now. It may hurt the relationship, but I'm talking about relationships that were never really healthy to begin with so I'm ok with that. That's the way I deal with it, of course everyone has to be different.
Nothing there. It subsumed me. Black hole in time and space.

And yet.

It seemed like what I was made for.

to be used.

most natural thing in the world.

#423184 - 01/25/13 01:26 PM Re: “H@llmark” triggers [Re: traveler]
SoccerStar Offline

Registered: 10/15/12
Posts: 929

As far as I'm concerned, "the point" is whenever you need it to be. Other people are not entitled to you, to your presence, to your forgiveness, to your acknowledgment. I myself am quite fine and final about cutting people out of my life completely - have never had to do it to a parent, but my parents did it to an uncle and some cousins as I "watched and learned," and I've cut off ex-friends. Frank Sinatra called it "disappear-ing someone."

It seems women have a harder time accepting this than men - something about keeping up appearances, keeping family traditions, keeping expectations. My wife is positively aghast at the suggestion - she seems to think the individual must be subsumed beneath his or her role, and as a result has kept herself in relationships that were way too unhealthy / abusive for way too long, because someone just being a cousin or something is supposed to matter.

I'm sorry your wishes weren't respected and you were denied the chance to make clear to your mother how unforgivable her failure was and how permanent her punishment would be. Maybe try harder to "disappear" the next special occasion? Birthday coming up? Easter?

You matter. Your responses are valid. Abusers have no rights and are entitled to nothing. If "Dear Abby" columns have a problem with that, fuck 'em.

My story

"Don't think it hasn't been a little slice of Heaven just because it hasn't!" --Bugs Bunny

#423198 - 01/25/13 04:10 PM Re: “H@llmark” triggers [Re: traveler]
genedebs Offline

Registered: 11/09/12
Posts: 378
Loc: MO
To Traveler et al (TRIGGER?)

If the relationship is anything like mine, my mother also did not protect me from my physically abusive father and actually blamed me for her remaining married to him despite the fact thjat he hit and beat and berated her.

For me it was not about cards and good wishes. My parents were toxic. And sick. As my rabbi said, to care for your parents the way they never cared for you is the highest form of revenge and a mitzvah (and obeyance of God's law)to boot. I cared for them for a decade till they died.

Each of us come from different traditions and can either hold on to them or not. To tell the truth to someone who won't listen or can't hear is useless.

I said to her how much she hurt me by what happened when I was young with D E (my most overwhelming csa) to which she said she could not talk about it. It made her feel guilty. But remember she stayed with my father to protect me.

Also, honesty without compassion is just another form of abuse. You may be unable to offer compassion to the perpetrator or their enablers and protectors. And you may want to cause pain and abuse to them. I find this just additionally self destructive. But it may be good for you. I can not judge, only share my experience.

I hear your pain and your struggle. I am sorry for your experience with your own truth. May God be with you.

We all have different stories and we all are the same.


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