Just recently I have become very aware that the subconscious goal of everyone who is heading down the road to crazy is to take someone with them. I've known this for a while and expressed in different ways after a 2007 seminar that I blogged about in a post about Inducement. The link in the blog post is broken but you can read the concept here: Inducement. The idea is that we subconsciously want the people around us to share the feelings that we are having. We don't try to do it -- it just happens automatically.
Think about this scene. Dad comes home from work and he is not happy. Long day. He's anxious, irritated, and just mad at the world. He walks in and without saying a word, throws his briefcase into the recliner, kicks the dog out of his way, and marches up the stairs to change his clothes. He mutters under his breath.
As he goes upstairs everyone in the house is now sucked into his feelings. Kids and Mom, who were perfectly happy just moments before, are now anxious. They are irritable, Even the dog is on edge (of course he is, he just got kicked :-).
Today I was having a conversation with a young woman who has been doing foster care since she was twenty one. So she's still young, but has been caring for kids in care for over 20 years. She's got the perfect personality to be a foster parent because her face is calm, cool and collected no matter what is going on. She said these words to me in regards to her 13 year old adopted daughter: " Just because she's going crazy doesn't mean I have to join her."
That reminded me of something I've been saying over and over again to myself (not often outloud) about the people I love. "Just because you're heading down the road to crazy doesn't mean I have to come." Tonight we did a little informal marriage counseling session with a couple where I said those same words.
Now that I 'm over 50 it takes way more energy than I have to get worked up. It used to be that if someone wanted to suck me in to their own emotions, I would dive in. My approach to people was basically, "You're angry? That makes me MAD. You're sad... wow, that depresses me. You being worried about something? Well that makes me anxious." But now I realize that I don't have the emotional energy to head down the road to whatever brand of crazy my kids, my friends, my coworkers, our clients, or even my husband happens to be on.
I'm going to stay right here thanks. When you're ready to return from crazy land -- or angry land -- or anxious land -- or depression land -- I'll be happy to hang out with you. But loving you doesn't mean I have to go with you. In fact, it might be that my best expression of love would be to remain immovable and steady.
Today was a hard day at work and I didn't follow my own advice. I'm annoyed right now because I am exhausted. Someone hijacked my world and headed toward crazy and I jumped right into their vehicle and went there with them. It's been happening more often than I want it to lately, which probably means I need more rest... or more space... or more self care.
Or maybe I just needed to blog.