If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one.
~from the film, Spotlight
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
This month I’ve been forced into a meditation on toxicity. That which surrounds me, and that inside me.
For most of my life, I’ve been graceful, or silently resentful, or a septic combination of both.
Boundaries blurred. Feelings compromised. Self enmeshed.
This week my son showed me something distinctly different.
An elder dumped on him–wrote hurtful things–and he owned what needed owning; and then, he put up his hand. “No.”
He knew where he ended and she began.
I was amazed.
“Look at that,” I said to my husband, “That’s something.”
Despite our first born’s clear boundaries, he wasn’t unfazed. “My room seems cold and bare tonight,” he said, and we patted our bed to offer him space. Instead, he went to sleep alone. He’s 20.
The next morning, my son rebounded and moved on with his life, while I slogged through the day with residue.
The night before I had been surprisingly calm. I listened to him intently–leaving ample room for his feelings. But there were visions while he spoke. They came of their own accord:
Tearing flesh with fanged teeth.
Ripping jugular veins as a three-headed beast.
Becoming a thousand insects, devouring her brain.
He was going to write her off. I encouraged him to pause.
“I’m not used to toxic people in my life,” he said, “I don’t need them.”
I was amazed.
“Listen to that,” I said to my husband, “That’s something.”
When we were his age, we took it all in. Harbored pain and hurt. As if it was ours.
Our son knows the taste of pure water.
We gave it to him.
We had a lot to learn.
resources for toxicity:
of discerning between grace and boundaries:
Everything is a Mirror (until it’s Not)
of owning feelings & needs without projecting thoughts:
Collaborative Communication (NVC)
beware hiding places for toxicity:
media, films, politicians, food