“Happiness was but the occasional episode in the general drama of pain.” Thomas Hardy, from The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886) chapter 45 ad fin.
Virtuous souls play a game that keeps them from living life to the full. Most of us are entirely unaware of how we are magnetically drawn to these personalities who create crisis. They are
usually charming and adorable, highly passionate, extremely clever, and powerfully manipulative. Consequently, they herald certain destruction for the meritorious person in their
vicinity. You’ve seen them before; they are charismatic, but out-of-control, long on problems and short on solutions.
Squabblers are the type of people who can take charge of your life. For creative people, they are the challenge of a lifetime: so much to change, so many distractions….
If you’ve ever been drawn into a JoySucker’s vortex, you will recognize these symptoms. Squabblers live for drama and action. Would you like to swing on a
star? Watch everyone sing and dance on cue. Everybody around them operates as the supporting cast, acting on the Squabblers’ expert direction. [The American TV series, Arrested
Development, captures this in a nutshell!]
Squabblers exist in every level of society and in every culture. The Squabbling dynamic is grounded in power, so anyone can become a source of his or her high-energy consumption. The nuclear family is a useful generator for the JoySucker to wield one family member against another, undercutting anyone’s agenda but his or her own.
Squabblers break promises and rearrange schedules with the most feasible justifications. They expect preferential treatment, and run rampant on your reality. No matter how important your deadline or how crucial your own work at the moment Squabblers will undermine your needs. They may act as if they hear your boundaries and will respect them, but the true action is distraction. Like the best magician, the slight of hand sweeps you off your feet.
Squabblers spend your time and money, and then woo you with their generous expenditure. Play now, but you’ll be sure to pay later.
Because Squabblers are fueled by the energy created in relationship, they will set people against one another to maintain their position at the center of power. In the heat of the crisis they can get a direct charge from the negative energies they generate. Pay attention to the tension that’s created when he’s pointing out a few faults in your mother or your best friend. You are an effective energy supply.
Squabblers are expert blamers. It’s not their fault that the world is so bedeviled. Don’t you feel better being there for them? Your understanding is their strength—just like a battery pack.
Squabblers are uncomfortable with routine and order. Crisis directs their world. When you begin to establish a lifestyle that serves your spirit, your JoySucker will abruptly invade your routine with his more important needs. Where would he be without you?
Squabblers are suffering from their own veiled glory. They are afraid to acknowledge their own spirit, and are personally threatened when they allow that same intimacy in others. It makes them feel at risk, fearful, jealous and angry, and feelings are dangerous. This stirs up a dramatic episode, coincidentally at your expense. Powerfully in control of their world, Squabblers dictate your role to maintain law and order. Involvement with a Squabblers is always a power struggle. Know that what matters most to you is insignificant in light of the Squabblers’ adversities. And in those occasional moments of self-awareness, we find ourselves resenting these manipulations. Bitterness creates negative energy, compounding the harmful dynamic.
If Squabblers are really that destructive, why have we compromised ourselves into relationships with them? The simple, honest answer is that we’re Squabblers, too! We who are also that passionate are willing to go to almost any length to keep ourselves good and above repute. As draining and distracting as life with a Squabblers is, we find it far less risky than accepting the challenge of creating a life of our own. What might happen then? What would we become? Very often, we fear that if we truly acknowledge our own potential, we will become Squabblers ourselves and selfishly use those around us. This fear is our smoke screen to continue allowing others to use us better than we use ourselves, thereby neglecting our own potential.
“To whom much is given, much is required.” Consider Matthew 13:11-12 and 25:29.
If you are involved with a Squabblers, it is very important that you can admit that truth. [The book to read is Why is it Always about YOU? The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism; Sandy Hotchkiss, LCSW; Free Press, division of Simon & Schuster, Inc, NYC; 2002; ISBN 0-7432-1427-7] You are being used — and understand that you are using your own abuser. Your Squabblers is an obstacle you’ve accepted to deter yourself from your own trajectory. The Squabblers is exploiting you, and you are misusing that person to evade your own divine capacity.
How does one choose to turn this joy-sucking behavior into that of a joy GIVER? Understand that Squabblers are thirsty souls — they’re not drinking from the well. [John 4:10] Instead, they are depending upon another person to fulfill their expectations — to save them from themselves. Only YHWH is able to quench the deep thirst. This means that we are perpetrator as well as victim, because it does feel so good to be needed! The painful truth is that we set ourselves up as a god in someone else’s life: we’re Co-dependable!
Picture that each of us is a house. Imagine a quaint neighborhood with a road dividing the sidewalks, and each cozy cottage is edged with a low fence. You can determine how close to the public views your house sits, and you choose how you’ll maintain appearances. People are always passing down the road, and walking on their way. Maybe you’ll say hello to some of them as they pass, maybe someone will stop to visit. Some of your visitors are a joy to know. You’ll invite them to ‘set a spell’ on the front porch and get to know each other better. There are a few whom you’ll even bring inside as you share opinions and experiences.
Family comes barging in, as they will. Even if you try to lock some of them out, the more persistent ones will tap on the windows until you respond. Most of them know which particular buttons to push.
Sometimes, you’ll welcome a person to come inside, and you’ll share marvelous times together, but this is mixed with the quirks that come with shared relationship. This person you admire will have no qualms about rearranging your furniture and maybe even changing the time on your clock. That’s easy enough to shrug off, who knows but maybe the couch is hideous after all… I liked it, but if you don’t, then…. But after a time, the warm feelings dim and you tend to neglect your hospitality. Maybe you can see how persistently you’ve tried to get him to sort his socks, and haven’t you put some of his toys away for him sometimes, then wondered why he didn’t thank-you for it?
Kicking this Squabblers right out the door may seem like the obvious answer, but it’s not. Rather, it’s a chance to prove YHWH’s transforming power. Maybe you can see how you’ve tried to get him to clean up his house the way you’d expect it should be.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t step back from a dangerous relationship in order to recuperate. Deliberate destruction of another must not be allowed! Be strong and courageous. It’s time to get your own house in order again.
Boundaries should be fences, not walls.
There is one room in your house into which no one is invited. It’s not the bedroom, although that’s a place of intimacy, but even then it’s not your most private space. In this house, you have a bathroom. This bathroom is the source of soul refreshment. Consider it your divine spa! Let your mind’s eye decorate it however you like, but be aware that it is lined with mirrors. These mirrors are necessary to help you locate the dirt in your life, the stains and the wounds. If you can’t see the damage, how can you be sure it’s gone?
This is the center, the resting place of your soul. You can come to the Living Water here. This is the joy of Psalm 51.
Your journal is a mirror. It’s for your eyes only. You can stand naked and unashamed here. Know that and write knowing that. Respect yourself by not showing your ephemeros to anyone. It is here that you must begin to love yourself for who you really are. Ask God to be your mirror. Accept no substitutes!
(The Squabblers is adapted from from Julia Cameron’s the Artist’s Way.)
[The Source begins here.]