Soul Corrosion

Sunday my husband and I stopped to make a purchase before delivering Easter baskets to our grandchildren. We came out to the car and I could hear a woman screaming obscenities. She was on the sidewalk we’d just left. I assumed the usual don’t look, don’t engage posture I learned living in the badbadbad part of Portland many years ago. I opened the truck door and got in only to lock eyes with the woman standing about 15 feet from me. She screamed at me, spit at me, and then swung her coat in anger and started stalking away. After a few steps she turned and spit again and then left. We watched her cross the parking lot into an empty field across from the store.

Homelessness and mental illness were obvious. It was a sad to see a person so corroded by a harsh life. Especially on Resurrection Day.

Fast forward to this morning.

Saturday I was kneecapped by a couple of family members. (Metaphorically. Not that we are such a high-class bunch, but there was no physical violence.) I live with one of the people and had tried to think rationally and keep my powder dry on this. Particularly since this person is in the early stages of dementia. (We are one step away from being that commercial where the guy’s father forgets how to brush his teeth.)

Anyway, today was the day to try and work things out. The person will not even acknowledge the actions of Saturday, and brought up a topic that she circles whenever things get tense.

And then she said, “And you’re always bragging about your writing.”

HA! Again I say, HA!

My writing career is pretty much a dried up husk. I published two books a million years ago and she thinks because I come upstairs to get some time alone to think, I’m bragging.   I can feel the corrosion of my soul in the midst of this. Pretty soon, my soul will look just like my writing career. Or the lady screaming and spitting in the parking lot.

My point in all this is to ask, do you go for the knees when you’re arguing? My natural tendency is to try and hit a clever, snotty tone without looking cheap and low-class. Most of the time I can’t accomplish that so just walk away from confrontation.

What do you do when goaded?

BTB, I acted like a jerk and screamed at this person in my home. But only after she screamed at me. Yeah, that’s no justification. I think I need one of these:

Image courtesy of imgarcade.com

 

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15 thoughts on “Soul Corrosion

  1. Laura Hile

    In real life, confrontation doesn’t escalate to the shouting level. I hate confrontation and refuse to feed the drama. Later, when tempers have cooled, then we talk.

    BUT I have never dealt with dementia. I don’t see how you can reason, let alone win a dispute, there.

    It’s on the Internet that I struggle. You know, with inflammatory comments (anonymous or not) that beg for a response in kind? I clamp my lips shut, move my fingers away from the keyboard, and keep scrolling.

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    1. Robin Helm

      I have begun to severely limit my time on Facebook. It’s very difficult for me to scroll past things that are very much against my beliefs and core values. It’s especially difficult when those things are promoted by my Christian friends. However, yelling is never a good idea. Yelling at a person will not change his mind.

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    2. Susan Kaye Post author

      It’s funny, I’ve gotten very good at writing out half responses and then hitting the delete key and watching the cursor gobble up all the letters. The very act of putting the thoughts together has become enough. How we change over time.

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  2. G

    Let it go. So people act up and out. Can you change them? Nope. But you can refuse to let them change you. So you’ve wasted a few good writing years. Can you get them back? Nope. But you can refuse to lose the ones still ahead of you. You are a good writer, Sue, but it never defined you. You are the same person who wrote those wonderful stories, only older and wiser.

    I wonder what Anne Elliot was like as an older woman. I’m sure every day with Frederick wasn’t wonderful, but I’m sure some of them were spectacular. What was she like as a mother? Did Frederick miss the sea? Did Elizabeth ever find happiness or was she still a harpy at 50? Did Mary survive all of her imagined health problems? Was there anything left to inherit after Sir Walter died of vanity? So many questions just begging to be explored. Time’s a-wastin’, woman.

    Liked by 3 people

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    1. Susan Kaye Post author

      Yes, there are lots of question about Persuasion and about all of us as the sand falls through the hourglass. I’ve never thought that writing was, or is, a waste. It’s just finding my way through the weeds back to the essential joy of it. Thanks, G.

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  3. C Allyn Pierson

    Susan, maybe we need to form our own writers’ group for writers who can seem to find the time to sit down and put words on paper. Mine is highly exacerbated by one of our dogs (Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile, She Who Must Be Obeyed). We got her from our local shelter and she, from her behavior, had clearly been abused and neglected. She adores her human mommy (ME!!) and the minute I sit down to write in the family room, where I can let them out and in and be in the same room with them, she comes and sits by my chair and “talks” to me, very clearly saying, “Put down that stupid silver thing and come sit in the chair to I can sit on your lap.” It’s very hard to say no to someone who thinks you are a god(dess).

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  4. C Allyn Pierson

    As far as the relative with dementia…just keep telling yourself that they will not remember the argument tomorrow, so it only hurts you. Walking away is the best way to deal with something that is only a problem in the mind of your opponent and that mind failing. Dementia patients often have complete changes in personality and the negative sides to their personality may become prominent, even to the point of a gentle person becoming violent toward their caregivers and anyone else who they take a “scunner” to. I hope things get better!

    Liked by 3 people

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  5. janashe

    Ya’ll are all, obviously, better people than I am. I firmly believe a direct well-executed yell can be very beneficial and therapeutic for all parties. Seriously, sometimes everyone is so polite that nothing real is said and it all simmers under the surface. A sudden yell by a person not normally prone to do so can be a real attention getter. When a non-confrontational person erupts in an annual or bi-annual, even tri-annual moment of temper, all parties realize something serious needs to be addressed, And a simple apology should always be sufficient, especially for yourself. Don’t beleaguer the moment. Being human can be a very difficult thing. Be as gentle on yourself about your own limitations as you are with those you love, Life is too short to be lived with a list of regrets hanging over you like the sword of Damacles. Anyway, that’s my penny’s worth…

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Susan Kaye Post author

      I think you gave me a dime’s worth, Jan. And thank you for responding. We are those people who try to keep things buttoned up. And that may be a problem.

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      1. janashe

        Last year I stayed with my mother and was the sole caregiver for her palliative care for the last 6 months of her life. She was soon bedbound with her medical issues complicated by dementia and sundowner syndrome. I totally understand the overwhelming sense of “I simply cannot do this anymore!” that suddenly incapacitates you or the unexpected rush of frustrated anger that hits you all at once even though you do love them and are aware of their being trapped and how they must feel. The aides which came for an hour each morning and night were God’s instruments to help me cope with grace and forgive myself when I could not. C Allyn is right, they don’t remember, even a few hours later, so it is up to you not to remember either. Like Lizzy says .. only remember the past as it gives you pleasure.

        Liked by 2 people

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        1. Susan Kaye Post author

          Thanks again, Jan, for sharing the struggles you’ve had when it comes to caregiving. Unfortunately,this person does seem to remember one thing. And it’s come around again yesterday, And the delusion is expanding. And anything I say in defence of myself for my family is met with accusations. We’re all liars and thieves.

          The saddest part is, my memories of this person pre-dementia are not all that pleasant.

          Come with compassion, stay because no one else will.

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Why yes, we DO want a piece of your mind. ;-)

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