The Cycle

Photo Credit: Warrior Art

A Poem for adults who suffered abuse in their childhood, and suffer with mental illness or addiction in adulthood:

When the pain can be traced to the very roots of the tree
Is there really any escaping it?
A curse passed down from generation to generation
Teaching their kin to rage, worry, blame, wallow
Building foundations for failure

Regrets and more regrets
Blame and more blame
Siblings lost together in a place they can’t escape
It’s home, but their young souls know it shouldn’t be

One sibling grows up
Blaming, hating, selfishly ripping through their home
Like an unpredictable tornado
The debris: broken hearts of those who can’t help but love them

Another sibling grows up
Sweeping secrets under a rug
Arranging flowers, ironing wrinkled clothes
Polishing tarnished silver
Making things appear perfect
When really, she’s a perfect disaster

When will the cycle stop?
When will the blaming end?
I know the pain is real, I’ve felt it
I know the demons are there, I battle them

Being a grown up is hard
Being a parent is hard
Being a grown-up parent who suffered abuse in their childhood
Is excruciatingly lonely and painful

But our children cannot not be the punching bags that we were
Our spouses cannot be the target that we spew our anger at
Our families deserve the best of us

The best of our childhood was stolen from us
We cannot steal it back from our kids
It doesn’t work like that

The cycle needs to stop here
For a long time, the fight will be constant
But we’ll get stronger, wiser and better

We are warriors who draw the line in the sand
With swords dripping our own blood
Marking the boundary that will not be crossed
And fiercely guarding it

We’ll need to fight for our own happiness
We’ll need to battle the demons
Who threaten to steal it from us
And plant lies in our heads that we’re bad
That we’re not worthy
That we’re unlovable

But we have to fight
And ever

Accept this
And you can begin
Your new journey

®Cristina Cole

Don’t Get Mad Get Even Nicer

The first time I learned about the idea of “killing with kindness” was when I read Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. For those of you who haven’t read the story it’s about a man who meets an angry, rude, disrespectful woman. He continues to be kind to her no matter how badly she treats him, and soon enough her anger melts away because no matter how hard she tries, nothing she does provokes him. And they lived happily ever after.
Have you ever tried doing this? It’s funny how well it actually works. I have had TONS of opportunities because I’m a customer service rep part-time. I am the one the angry customer unleashes on. The one who takes the punch, gets back up, finds her balance, and then braces herself for the next jab.
For a long time I would take things personally. I would want to yell back, cry, defend myself. But then I would only fuel their anger even more. And worse, risk losing my job. I hated feeling so defeated all the time. I needed to grow thicker skin.
Instead, I just learned how to change my perspective. I’ve learned a few things:

  • I am not the one they’re mad at
  • I am most likely the tenth person they’ve had to explain their issue to
  • They don’t feel like they can trust yet another sales rep to resolve their issue
  • They have had an awful experience and FINALLY can tell someone face to face how pissed they are about it
  • The louder they yell, the calmer I need to be
  • The angrier they are, the more pleasant I must be
  • And even though what happened isn’t my fault, I need to apologize like it is

In a nutshell, don’t get mad get even nicer. It sounds like I’m telling you to be a doormat when people are rude to you, but I’m not. Instead, be a marshmallow. Let the anger bounce off of you, but continue to be kind…sweet, that niceness is what will bounce back and slap them in the face, not your anger. And they won’t know what to do with it.
They’ll be so confused by your reaction of niceness that their rage literally melts away. Their behaviour goes from rude or obnoxious to quiet and reserved. How can they justify continuing to be angry and rude to someone who is so darn nice? That would put them in the wrong, and suddenly they’re the bad guy. And who wants to be the bad guy?
You don’t have to be in customer service to run into rude people either. They’re everywhere. On the highway, at the mall, in the parking lot, coffee shop. Whenever I run into someone who’s obviously angry, I remind myself that I have no idea what their life is like and what struggles they’re facing. Of course, that doesn’t give them a license to be rude, but they’re just easily triggered by obstacles throughout their day and the anger just spills out of them.
I know they saw my signal on to get into a parking spot but they took it anyway. They saw me walking right behind them with a toddler in my arms and rushed into the elevator before I could and didn’t hold the “door open” button. In both cases, I make sure to make eye contact with the individual, smile and say “Hi”. I don’t give them the reaction they expect. Perhaps it makes the path for the next person they run into that day a little less bumpy.

Hateful Letter Written to Neighbour with Autistic Son

Below is a picture of a letter that a mother in the Durham area wrote to a neighbour with an autistic son. It’s hateful and disturbing. She did not sign her name, and police are now trying to find out who she is:

hate letter

My Response to Her Letter:

To the mother who wrote this letter:

I could write a hateful letter in response to what you’ve said to your neighbour, it would be the logical response, wouldn’t it? Instead, after thinking about it for a while and letting my own anger at your words be felt and safely put away, I would rather say: you need help.

The right thing for you to do at this moment would be to knock on your neighbour’s door, kneel down and beg for her forgiveness. Tell her you’re sorry for all the hurtful, hateful things you said. Ask her if there is anything you can do to make her life easier since you’ve probably broken her heart.

Once you’ve apologized then it’s time for you to address your anger. It’s time to ask yourself:

  • “How could I write such hurtful things?”
  • “What was I thinking?”
  • “How can I be a better person from here on out?”
  • “How can I be a better example for my own children?”

If you disagree with me and think the letter you wrote was an effective way to solve a problem, then I want you to think of this: Would you be proud to show your children that letter? Would you boast to them about how every word was written by you, their mother?

If your answer is “No”, then in your heart you must know that what you did was wrong. It was a hate crime, plain and simple.

Right now, as your letter has been exposed on social media sites and even the news, you’re probably shaking with fear that you’ll be found out. You didn’t sign your name to the letter, perhaps because what you wrote was extreme and mean. Perhaps because you feared the response you might get. Well, you’re sure getting a response now, aren’t you?

I wonder if you’re remorseful for saying the things you said or just regretful that you let your anger get the best of you; and now people will find out how ugly and mean you can be.

A lot of people want you exposed. They want a name and a face to attach to the letter. You may have thought you were being brave by writing how you truly felt. But if you were really brave you would have invited your neighbour over for a coffee and taken a risk, saying something like this:

“I feel horrible for feeling the way I do, irritated by the noise, uncomfortable because I don’t understand your grandson’s illness, so I wanted to talk to you about it. Maybe learn more about the struggles the two of you face every day, so I can be more compassionate rather than annoyed. I’m not trying to mean. I’ve just never been exposed to a situation like this before and I want to work with you so I can learn to adapt…”

Sure this still might make you seem insensitive and even selfish, but nonetheless it would make you seem human…not inhumane as you were.

Well, that’s my response to your letter. I hope you will do the right thing: be accountable. Be a better person, a better neighbour, a better mother, a better YOU.

Angry Sea

This is the place I go when any bitterness from my past creeps up on me…

Delicate as a rose
Her skin is milky and soft
Beneath her the cold rock kisses her feet
Below the rock, waves crash with fury
Wind whips through her dark hair
Giving life to it
She looks across the sea
With a longing in her heart
As though the waves
Will bring back answers
Her ears are brushed with the wind’s whisper
Of promises
A calm comes over her
The anger inside her has found a home
She can feel it leave her body, fall over the rocks
And join the angry sea

© Copyright – All rights reserved – Cristina Cole