Biting & Swinging...
I am a biter. Not an actual biter, but I was given the gift/curse of being able to really let someone have it verbally. I used to also lash out physically (aka swinging), but, thankfully, I do not do that anymore...
I heard someone say that they stopped taking a bite out of people...and it got me to thinking. How can I be this old, this sober and this peaceful and still do that sometimes?
It was a mystery to me...well, sort of. I mean I know it is a trauma response. If you look at the ferocity or the intensity of my reactions in this regard, you would agree. I attack, so that I am not attacked, or I attacked to defend against an actual attack or one that I believe to be coming. This isn’t an Erin thing, it is a human thing.
Truth be told, I used to like this about myself. But I will fully own, it is a relational killer. No one wants to have a relationship with someone who takes a bite out of them, verbally, physically or spiritually.
I have been working on this for years. Like decades of years. And I have made progress but when I heard this other person admit to an entire room of people that she does this too, it landed in my chest. I can’t stop thinking about it. And most especially how much I do not want to do that anymore. So I just stopped, no more excuses wrapped up in reasons to continue the behavior. I just won’t do it anymore. No more biting people.
But in order to do that I had to change one fundamental thought process: the one where I saw people as irritating or assholes. And I had to see people as hurting. And that was a hard shift for me. Because me viewing people as assholes or irritating created distance, kept them away from me. So long as you are a fucker, then I don’t have to grant you any passage. I don’t have to give you any grace. But if I see you as hurting, I see you as being in pain, then that shortens the distance between you and all your irritatingness and me. And that gap between becomes shorter and tighter and more intimate. And this would be reason numero uno as to why I have maintained a steadfast dedication to seeing people as fuckers and exhausting...then I don’t have to really engage with you. You cost me nothing because so long as you are an irritating fucker, I can just hold you off well past arm’s length. But if I see you as just another person walking the earth, hurting...then that totally changes things, and the distance between you and me has just been closed.
Biting also requires some distance to launch yourself. Like a snake, you have to have some room to strike. And I see that now. This little bubble that I like to put up and around myself, is how I am able to strike out and bite. Without so much room, then striking and biting won’t be quite so easy.
And most importantly, I do not want to strike. I do not want to hurt anyone, most of all those people I love. And even those people I do not love all that much. I don’t want to harm anyone, really, ever. I relocate spiders for crying out loud!
The biting sarcastic commentary, the rants barbed with parental authority, the hurtful words that seem to come so easily to me, just dried up when I heard another woman own her penchance for this type of behavior. I do not want to do this anymore. So I stopped. And I had to do this by closing the gap between me and others. That safe distance, the intimacy perimeter that I like to keep up in order to feel safe, had to come down. I had to be willing to give up the feeling of safety because in reality, it never kept me safe, it just kept me alone. And some of the most unsafe times in my life were when I was all by myself. I have been always my own worst enemy. And I the number one person to launch myself into a danger zone.
So I am resigning from the biting club much like I resigned from the swinging (no not that type of swinging, swinging like taking a swing at someone, Jeez!). I pledge to no longer take bites out of people just like I quit taking swings at people. I shall walk out my remaining days allowing you all to be hurt, suffering humans just like me. And I will do my best to see that you are hurting, and that your reaction is about you, not really about me at all. Because I know, that when I took a bite out of someone, it was always because of how I felt about me, never about them.
Biting is really the same as swinging...you have to have some distance in between to line up the strike. And I am learning, slowly, oh so slowly, that less space between means less distance to strike. And that feels like progress today...