I'm at the tail end of processing through that Toxic Email I received earlier this week. Although I don't want to make a regular practice of sharing my personal emotions here - after talking to friends about this I found that my experience with this situation is not unique to human behavior. Rather, it appears to be Universal.
When someone in your life is keeping a Secret Mistake Savings Account about you, it can go on for years and years with them smiling and laughing and agreeing with you to your face, flattering you, giving you gifts, telling you how much they love you and how much you mean to them before they suddenly erupt into an Emotional Chernobyl and put you on serious blast, slam the door in your face and are gone. I call this the classic 'Dump and Run'
People who engage in "Dump and Run" Do so because they don't want to face any accountability or take any responsibility for their sudden rage and anger - they simply want to Dump it on you and Run to avoid any further interactions where their dumping behavior might be called into question. If this has happened to you, take heart that you are not the only one they've done this to nor will you be the last.
The Dump and Run Payoff is that it gives the Dumper a feeling of tremendous power and control. In this specific case, I know the person was dealing with a progressive physical disability that could not be cured or stopped. That's a very powerless and vulnerable place to be. So having something like Dumping on me that gave them absolute control and power must have felt pretty good, allowing them to regain a sense of control over their lives.
"Stunned" is usually how the recipient of this type of behavior feels. Because there's been no indications to you that a problem existed. That's how I felt the first time (not this time) Stunned and deeply hurt. I think this time I was luckier than most because the person had done this exact same thing to me a few years ago - so I re-entered the friendship a little wary and on my guard. Once bitten, twice shy.
So, this time I was not as "Stunned" as I was "Annoyed". As I was reading through their litany of rage and shame all I could think was, "Oh look - we're doing THIS again."
The Difference Between Blame and Shame
According to Brené Brown, who studies vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame as a researcher-storyteller and author. "Shame is a focus on the person's self, blame/guilt is a focus on their behavior. Shame is “YOU are bad.” Blame is “You did something bad.”
Learning to spot the difference in your language with others and their language with you can make a big difference in the quality of your relationships. In my case, the person who put me on blast was going on and on about me in the tone of Shame. They even went as far as to speculate that I had been a horrible person to them due to my childhood. Be on the lookout for ANYONE who begins down this road with you. If they are NOT your therapist or degreed in psychology, you must immediately ask yourself, "Why are they suddenly engaged in taking my personal inventory and practicing psychology to convince me I am bad or shameful?"
The Bottom Line
There's nothing you can do when someone Dumps and Runs on you other than let them go. Let this person out of your life, without confrontation, where they can find fresh new targets for their secret Mistake Savings Accounts and rage Dump and Runs. Because, trust me, they will. If you feel that you have all the closure you need, remove all avenues for their possible return into your life. Protect yourself from any further trauma and drama from them. Move on with YOUR life.
Until next time ...