Attacked

I’ve gone to ground for a week or so.  That’s not so unusual here, but lately I’ve been thinking two, three or even four times before posting on Facebook and largely sticking to the occasional photo on Instagram.

I even gave Twitter a try for a few days.  It’s hard to limit myself to their character count and I have to admit I still don’t really get how to use it.  So apart from one friend in New England, I haven’t really received much notice there.

For an ENFP like myself, this is excruciating, this inability to post.  When I tell you the reason, I will risk exposing myself as a shallow individual, considering how much more others are suffering in this situation and all I’m whining about is the fact that my main social media outlet got polluted.

But I’ll tell you anyway.  It has to do with my brother and his horrible decision to give himself over to whatever he has felt like doing for the past 8-10 years.

His wife’s way of coping with all this has been to post intimate, explicit details of everything she discovers.  On Facebook.

When she posted a disjointed, incoherent rant of this type on my brother’s page a few weeks ago, and I started getting emails from elderly family friends asking what was wrong with her, I texted my brother and told him about it.

She had been told before by a counselor not to post details like that and had taken them down, so I thought I was simply alerting him of something he hadn’t noticed and that she would be reminded that she had agreed not to make such posts and would take them down.

Instead I found myself the victim of a vicious assault, by both of them, both in texts and on Facebook.  I defended myself at first on Facebook, until I remembered from past encounters with her over the years how impossible it is to reason with someone who is primarily interested in drama, at which point I simply walked away and stopped responding.

This apparently infuriated them, so they started tagging me in their diatribes.  I removed the tags and unfriended my sister-in-law; she had just posted a status advising her friends that she had no intention of not posting details in the future and that if anyone didn’t like that, they were free to unfriend her with no hard feelings.  And I felt I had a responsibility as a teacher to not expose my students, some of whom have friended me on Facebook, to these kinds of details.

Apparently the diatribes and explicit details continued, although I couldn’t see the ones on her page.  My husband’s sister finally had enough of them and reported them to Facebook, who took them down.

All this to say, Facebook, which before this was my playground, has suddenly become a dark place.   Everything I post makes me pause and ask, “What will my brother and his wife make of this post?”  They are accusing me of being a bad Christian because I haven’t tried harder to reach out to them – how do I post happy photos of the Christmas we had without them (they refused to come) or the fun I’m having with my friends?

I have received counsel from a number of people to step back and stay away from them while they are in this place. It’s probably wise, but I can’t help but ask where my responsibility as a servant of Christ is in all of this.  Where is the line of unconditional love vs. protecting myself?

And there is enough of a grain of truth in that accusation of being a bad Christian to make me pause.  Maybe I could have tried harder.  Maybe, despite the verbal abuse she hurled my way whenever I talked to them, I could have called her personally, or emailed her.  Maybe telling her that I was here for her wasn’t enough – maybe I should have driven the 2-3 hours to their house and knocked on her door.  But maybe her pain is so much greater than my own discomfort, I should have been able to rise above it and reach out.

And then the other side of me speaks up and says, this man stole your childhood from you by taking out all his angst on you, torturing you and abusing you in any way possible.  You do not owe him, or his wife, your adulthood as well.

And then the first side counters, but then should you not understand her pain all the more?  Maybe you’re the only one who can reach her.

Except that I actually have tried and she wouldn’t even respond to a text, and when I asked my brother to hand her the phone so I could speak to her privately last week, she walked out of the building they were in at the time.

So maybe it’s a moot point.

And in the meantime, I feel guilty for any joy I experience.  Which, right there, should clue me in as to where this attack is really coming from.

 

9 thoughts on “Attacked

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    1. Me too! It’s just complicated no matter how you look at it, and I haven’t even given half the details. But the Lord makes a way where there is no way so I’m sticking to the one thing I CAN do, which is prayer!

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  1. Um no ma’am Pam. I rarely give advice to strangers, but I say it’s time for you to reclaim your happiness and joy back. You can love someone unconditionally, but not put up with people’s foolishness. If I could remember the title I’d already written that focuses on this, I’d share it with you. Anywho, you can also change your settings so that only certain people see it; it’s in the top right corner before you share the post. Seems like a bit much, but in my (unsolicited) opinion, it’s just enough to help you gain some semblance of peace.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! I’m finding, the older I get, just how harmful actions based on knee jerk “Christian duty” can turn out to be. You’re right – I can love unconditionally and still set boundaries! I believe that setting on Facebook isone of those boundaries and just the thing for the occasion 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This question is one we as Christians tend to best ourselves up over: “Where is the line of unconditional love vs. protecting myself?”

    I hope you have prayed through this, reclaimed your joy, and seen that toxic individuals of any kind (and that means people who bring toxic behavior, not just people who act in a toxic way) are often removed from your life during seasons of pruning or growth. We have no obligation, even with family, to stick around and allow terrible behavior or attacks.

    ~Shell

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much Shell! I had a feeling that when I posted this here, I would hear back from those in the know about this kind of thing – my fellow pilgrims on the road to emotional health and balance. 🙂 I can’t express how much I appreciate the support from all of you!

      Liked by 1 person

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