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Declining the invite

invite.pngA week ago, I received an invite to the Red Wedding. I’m still feeling some kind of way about it.  I am a recent convert to Game of Thrones. We are nearly done with Season 4.  I watched the infamous Red Wedding episode over two weeks ago and I’m still recovering from the trauma of the experience. I cried so much, more than I remember doing in a long time.  Anyway, I was sent a message that on the surface seems like a goodwill gesture. If I didn’t know any better, I might think it’s a peace offering. I know good and well it’s not an olive branch unless it’s one with a pointy end for stabbing me.

RooseBoltonChainmail_zps363b2108The Red Wedding represents the ultimate betrayal of trust. If you are invited to the Red Wedding, you’re being bamboozled into a trap.

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I’m not going to accept this invitation. I’ve looked at it. I’ve read it. I thought to myself this is some Game of Thrones ish. This message was strategic. The sender has a history of saying one thing and doing another. This individual has given me good reason to not trust their words, whether spoken or written.  I may be cynical but I read the message as an attempt to get me to trust again.  Nope not today.  I don’t want to hear “The Rains of Castamere.” If you hear this song playing, you best get out and quickly.

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I will admit I felt somewhat vindicated by the message. There was some attempt at making peace. I have already reflected on my history with rattlesnake in pocket syndrome(The plague on all our houses), on channeling my inner mongoose (A fearless favorite,) and giving myself permission to go into Ivan Drago mode. I won’t be duped again. I’m a person of patience and compassion but my eyes are open. I will pray for those who have hurt me. Jesus is going to be the strongest fence that ever was. I will smile and be polite. I know who you are. No Red Wedding for me, no gracias.

Servant to all

I don’t forgive betrayal. There I said it. My struggles with resentment and self-righteousness are rooted in betrayals by those I have loved and trusted. I pray for an open heart. A few years ago, I served as friend and mentor to someone by sharing my experiences and advice.  I was betrayed when this individual compromise my safety and that of my child. (Betrayal blues) I still have not forgiven this person.  I pray for the open heart to do so.  I stay praying.

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On Holy Thursday, the Gospel and Mass call us to reflect on Jesus and the washing of feet.  Jesus’s act of humility  is met with resistance. Peter tells Jesus, “You will never wash my feet.” Peter has respect for his teacher. He doesn’t understand why he’s on the ground washing others’ dirty feet. Jesus tells them he is modeling how they will live.   Peter may be a potential leader but he has not learned that true leaders are servants. Jesus even washes Judas’ feet. Jesus knows Judas is his betrayer.  Washing his feet won’t change that.  Yet Jesus serves him in the same way he does for all the disciples.

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Caravaggio’s Betrayal of Jesus 

People will turn on me and disappoint me. I have to serve them. I struggle with being a servant for everyone. I will be civil and polite but I will bear a grudge. I pray that I can be a humble servant to all. I pray that I love those who are not equipped to love others or even themselves. May my love help inspire others to serve the world.

The plague on all our houses

I know your pain.  My hand has been ripped to shreds.  My back hurts from all the puncture wounds.  My hand spins when I think of all the time expended, all the words unheeded, all the energy I could have spent on my family, myself, even household chores.  Most of us have suffered from this condition at one time or another; in fact, many of us will continue to battle it for the rest of our lives. The scientific name is Marsupium crotalus, more commonly known as rattlesnake in pocket. (See also being played, taken for a ride, used and abused, bamboozled, or doormat syndrome.) 
The condition is symptom-free at its onset. After initial contact with the viper, the patient may not notice any negative changes. They may interact with the infected reptile for months, even years, before the bite occurs.  Marsupium crotalus is the result of the slow-acting toxins released from the snakebite.  Marsupium crotalus may include the following symptoms: chest pains, headaches, stiff neck, clenched jaw, back spasms, depression, anxiety, anger, irritable bowel syndrome, and a host of other physical and emotional complications. While treatable through a regimen of self –care, including therapy, it can recur through a person’s lifetime.
You may wonder why anyone would willfully put a rattlesnake in one’s pocket. There are a number of reasons why someone would take such a risk. The person may suffer from empathy, the need to nurture, hope in someone’s untapped potential, or consistently feel the urge to help others. Many people want to “pay it forward” in an effort to give back to the community at large. Occasionally, people who have pre-existing conditions may have compromised immunity to Marsupium crotalus. In any case, it is highly unlikely that the rattlesnake will successfully sublimate its instinctual need to attack. Sooner or later, someone is going to get hurt.
I too have Marsupium crotalus.  My therapist asked me a few months ago how one recognizes a rattlesnake.  I said the rattling tail is the giveaway.  She pointed out that the rattlesnake gives fair warning. I agreed that I don’t have any good reason to pick up the damn thing. The snake, and all the snakes I have known, revealed from day one what it was. The key is learning to head in the other direction when I hear those cascabeles shaking. 

I have previously written about my failings in helping others. (betrayal blues) I have been disappointed and devastated by the negative outcomes of helping relatives, professional colleagues, romantic partners, and friends. I wish I could say I am completely healed from Marsupium crotalus. After all I have experienced, some of which has been chronicled in previous writing, I thought I was cured. The last several months have taught me that I still need to work on being aware, assertive, and self-protective.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a resource to someone who is struggling. I can’t control how the person I help will respond. I can control how far I will go in offering my support. Sometimes the best choice I can make is the one to walk away, to not engage, and to care from a safe distance. 

Battling the betrayal blues

“They smile in your face
All the time they want to take your place
The backstabbers (backstabbers)” The O’Jays
My dad likes to tell a story of my 4-year-old reaction to my first visit to Lima’s Plaza de Armas back in the early 70s(before the city and park underwent a necessary rejuvenation.) He said there were several homeless people, many of them begging for spare change, and one woman bathing in the fountain before the police grabbed her.  He said I looked around and told him I wanted to help each person.  He said I asked why we couldn’t do that.  I may not remember this incident but I know that my call to help others has shaped who I am and what I do for a living. 
I lose sight of my purpose now and then. Sometimes the people I have helped have disappointed me or hurt me.  This is especially hard when those I have mentored are the culprits. 
Julius Caesar
Macbeth
Frankenstein
I have weathered ingratitude and betrayal on many levels:  stifled communication, verbal aggression, attacks on my reputation through gossip and lies. 
All About Eve
My (trifling) relative still tells various extended family members how cold and aloof I have become towards her over the years even though I paid her debt to a creditor.  Sometimes, all the unnecessary drama makes me want to give up on others altogether.  Pero no pueden conmigo.  I can’t and won’t change who I am because of others.
Forgiveness doesn’t come easy to me. It takes me weeks, months, years, even decades of reflection and prayer. It takes all my strength to remain civil and calm when I see these few people who have betrayed my trust.  It takes a sense of humor and optimism. It takes a commitment to self-care.  I move forward and continue reaching out the way I always have.