Second, for reasons I can't fathom, I remain very close to my boss of many years, despite the fact that we haven't worked together in almost a year and a half. He has become a lifelong friend, and the differences between us serve only to enhance conversations between us. When I lost my job he said, "Let's meet immediately; I don't want you to internalize this." And then he cleared his schedule to do just that on the next business day. He's been one of my primary supporters, almost like a second father, and his continued support and frequent engagement is of great comfort to me. I will never be able to repay him for his kindness. That someone of his caliber continues to invest in me is both humbling and reason to give thanks.
Finally, there is a wealth of information in -- and, therefore, continued revelvation as a result of -- Heartwounds by Tian Dayton. An excerpt:
Stress experienced early in life can alter the way we respond to stress as adults...
It is no wonder, then, that adults who experienced stress and trauma as children overrespond to stress as adults by becoming easily triggered into irrational emotions relevant to the original trauma, but irrelevant to the current situation; or by becoming hypervigilant or reverting to childhood defenses from emotional pain.
She then unpacks this statement, exploring why the stress we experience as children affects us as adults and explaining why trauma further exacerbates this. She also discusses what "triggering" means -- essentially, how we unconsciously act out things because it's easier to deal with the consequences than with the fear of them; how we unconsciously respond to things in ways that exacerbate rather than alleviate those fears; and how we are not bothered by the situation at hand but rather what we think it means in light of the trauma we've previously experienced.
But it's her analysis of hypervigilance that strikes me as earth-shattering, because I read this book to better understand He Who Is In Personal Crisis but am finding that it has a lot to teach me about...well, me. While He Who Is In Personal Crisis undoubtedly responds to current unfortunate circumstances by reverting to childhood defense mechanisms (which are only as evolved as when we were children and are intended to be used only as a means to survival in truly traumatic circumstances), I'm the one who's hypervigilant. And I, too, have untreated grief.
The whole experience has made me quietly confident -- not arrogant and, therefore, falsely confident; not insecure and, therefore, falsely unsure of my response in any given situation. I know what's going on, and it enables me to view both myself and him from a different perspective. I see his responses not as selfish or mean-spirited but as unconscious and arising out of pain and fear. That allows me to be compassionate, understanding and empathetic rather than to act out of anger, confusion and fear. I also am able to recognize both how his unconscious wounds and fears are being triggered and how my responses (which also are triggered by unconscious wounds and fears) to his reactions are exacerbating the situation. I'm humbled by the road ahead, but I give thanks that there is hope in these types of situations.
I wish each of you a wonderful weekend. Please feel free to share your own experiences and/or reminders in the Comments section.