Why do we let them do it to us? How do our families hold so much sway over us and our lives? Even after we are independent adults, what happens to us when we get around our families sometimes?
How many people have I allowed to “terrorize” me? I have
- Appeased by attending something for fear of what would happen if I didn’t. (not because there was joy in my heart about going)
- Given someone undeserved middle ground, sacrificing my family or me to avoid the conflict elsewhere.
- Been silent in the face of evil – for fear of ramifications (terrorizing!)
Familial terrorists are great at guilt-transmutation. I feel bad if I say something that is in disagreement, but I feel equally guilty if I don’t say anything. ”Silence in the face of evil is evil itself,” according to Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
So it comes down to guilt-classification:
- Is the guilt because I feel like I have sinned against God? –correct guilt, needing to be addressed.
- Is the guilt because a human has “made me” feel bad and tried (or succeeded in the case of my crying child) to change my course of action? –incorrect guilt, needing to be dismissed.
Too many times, I have been the one allowing others to “achieve their goal through systematic intimidation of …me.”
Sticking to principles is the only way to break the power of the terrorist. Improper behavior of others doesn’t change what’s RIGHT. Familial and other terrorists exist for as long as we allow them. They have as much power as we give them.
Thank you, Terri, for your wise and wonderful words. I hope you, my dear readers, took as much encouragement from them as I did.
What powerful words Terri shares for all of us! Not only is our innate sense of the wrongness of relational terrorism right, we have a way out! How freeing it is to know if we can just stick to our guns, hold to the principles we love, we can break free from the bonds that would otherwise so easily entangle us. Being true to ourselves is first, last and always the best thing to do. Let’s not give our personal terrorists any more sway over us, okay?