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Submitted by Virginia Watts on Mon, 10/22/2018 - 13:00

The collateral damage of emotional or physical abuse cannot be measured. One family member goes off the rails and the whole family train jumps the track. Connections are broken, some without hope of repair. 

cloudy nightHow did it all breakdown? What was the cause? Were drugs involved? Alcohol? Genetics? Where is our black box, like the one that records an airplane's progress and cockpit conversations? Where's the surviving pilot that was in charge and can recount what happened on his or her watch? Is it possible to go back and put together a timeline that reconstructs cause and effect? Not really. All we have are memories, our own wounds, to serve as a history of what happened. But one person's memory can be in direct opposition to another's. We know all about perspective, and how that differs just because there is a trick of light, or a shift in position. It's not reliable.

Trust has been shattered. Hope for redemption has all but disappeared. We need rational explanations, some one, some thing, to blame for our pain. For the chaos. Deep down we know that there is no one answer, no one piece of the puzzle that makes it possible to say "Now I understand. Of course."

Or self-blame kicks in. Maybe it's easier to think "It's all my fault." At least then you have a reason, something that makes sense, and what follows is that if that is the case, you have control. You can fix it. But of course, it isn't your fault. And you can't fix it. The problem isn't you, it doesn't belong to you. The problem belongs to the person inflicting the wounds, and they are the only one who can choose to change. Maybe the best thing you can do is to recognize that you can't do anything. Maybe that isn't so much jargon, isn't just psycho-babble. Sometimes you have to step away and say "Enough." 

Understanding often does not mean getting all the facts straight. Sometimes it means owning what is your own truth, owning your own feelings, and respecting your own boundaries. It may mean that stepping away from the pain and chaos is the only thing you can do for everyone. You know you have given every ounce of emotional energy to solving the problem, and you need to renew yourself, replenish, rest. And then the hard work of salvaging might begin.

But how much can, or should, be saved? Maybe different connections need to be made. Maybe some reassesment is in order. Maybe we are not all made for this track, this time, this place.Taking responsibility for your own well-being, before all else, may be the only answer. In that one action you could be opening a door into healing for more than just yourself. And that, like the collateral damage, could be immeasurable.