Stand-by / by-stand
10 September 2007
Can we stop our buttons being pushed? Meditation helps me catch myself out before the situation escalates, but can I stop the button being pushed in the first place? We can’t stop the push-er, but can we stop being the pushed? Can we drain the power and render the button inert? Can we be by-standers to our anger and annoyance instead of stand-by-ers?
I was totally annoyed at myself for reacting so customarily to someone still able to get under my skin after all these years of limited contact, and minor epiphanies, especially when it is simply a repeat of old, destructive communicative patterns. This person did what he often does: says something unthinkingly insensitive, and apologises for it when it is brought to his attention. But the apology always strikes me as a knee-jerk reaction to ease over an impending argument (Libra ascendant), without demonstrating any understanding of the issues at stake, i.e. without really giving any ground (Moon, Mars, Venus and Jupiter in Scorpio — ’nuff said!). Me, I’m offended not at the initial statement, but the manner of resolution, wanting very much to insist on truth, integrity, and all that (Sagittarius ascendant, Jupiter and Moon in Capricorn). Wilful self-deception bugs me.
But, without excusing said person, that is also my arrogance. People lie to themselves all the time, usually as a means of self-preservation. The question is what one does with self-deceivers. It is all too easy to say ‘leave them alone’ and sever ties. Life is rarely that simple (and let he who is without sin cast the first stone). The most hurtful self-deceivers to watch and guard against are those closest to us — family, friends, lovers. A stranger can tell the biggest fib and no tears are wasted on him, but to have a parent, a child, a friend or a lover lie to you so they can lie to themselves can cut deep.
Ex-lovers, though, are a different question altogether. Why do they still have the ability to get under our skin? Do we ever leave deep relationships even though we know leaving is entirely for our own good? Are the ties that bind ever cut? Or when they are cut, do the severed ends of the chains begin to corrode (ever watch Bleach?) and dissolve like metal in acid? The chains that bind are, of course, attachments, perhaps not even to an actual person, but to memories of what was and might have been — Proust all over again.
Draining the power from the button that sets us off is to deny the Inner Hollow (another Bleach reference — go read some manga!) its diet of fear, anxiety and regret. The Inner Hollow is the darkness within us that, if we choose to feed it, eats away at our humanity.
How do we take our buttons off stand-by mode? Practise, practise, practise, I guess. Here’s an old favourite to practise on.