Suppose you have a twitchy arm.
You may have had it all your life. Or, maybe something happened to you…and after that…well, your arm STARTED twitching. Most of the time rests comfortably, happily by your side. It accommodates your every command. It is your right hand man (!) as you work, or lovingly stroke the sweet, silky soft hair of your young child. It lifts an open palm and waves at friends. It holds your Bible at church, and may even reach for the sky in praise.
But sometimes, the nerves go awry and the arm abruptly snaps outward, slamming into anything nearby. Ouch. It can really do some damage, too. Sometimes your arm hits people. It splits lips, blacks eyes, and doubles people over with pain. Sometimes it damages property. Sometimes it is embarrassing. Sometimes, it’s kind of handy…it keeps the people around you on their toes. It makes them easier to get along with.
You feel bad about that, once in a while. But what can you do? It isn’t your fault. It just happens. People need to understand that this is just the way you are! You don’t MEAN to do damage…you don’t really want to hurt people or things. Your motives are good. You even apologize sometimes. Maybe even pay for the damages. But how unfair is that?….It just isn’t your fault! Your arm has a mind of its own. You have no control. And, after all, you aren’t perfect…just forgiven.
It isn’t your FAULT. You are not to BLAME.
BUT YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE.
So give yourself (and others) some space. Adjust your environment or put yourself where you do no harm. Seek treatment, or wear a straightjacket! It is a hassle. Not fair. But it is what it is. Not your fault, but still your responsibility.
Whatever the twitchy arm is for each of us, don’t we owe it to ourselves and others to DO WHATEVER IS NECESSARY TO DEAL WITH OUR OWN TROUBLESOME ISSUES, rather than passively allowing them to inflict damage? Which elevates them to entitlements? We can’t be perfect… but we can take the initiative to take care of ourselves, with healthy self-love and acceptance, if possible. To get help. To admit and be honest about our problem. And if we are harming others, we need to commit to do whatever it takes to get right, so we can relieve others of the daunting task of tiptoeing around us, walking on eggshells, flinching, watching, and ducking that blasted twitchy arm. To be responsible for ourselves, rather than making others responsible for themselves AND us. And to remove ourselves from endangering others for a time, if necessary, while we get it together.
And if you have a friend with a twitchy arm? Be kind, but let them know it isn’t OK to make excuses. It’s your responsibility. It’s their responsibility.
Note: I hear from DV counselors that abusers don’t generally improve much from anger management training (it’s not about anger, it’s about CONTROL). Please comment if you know of an instance in which an abusive individual has made a documentable “to the marrow of the bones, restoration of trust” turnaround. If so, what do you believe made the dramatic change possible?
I want to hear YOUR dialogue and beliefs about this, more than my own, so I may not answer all comments. Not being rude, just inquisitive!!!
And/or….more generally, what is YOUR “twitchy arm?” (If you care to share it!)