Emotional Carotid

If she hadn’t done it before I might have overlooked it  this time. It might not have hurt so much.


That is not true. It likely still would have hurt. It is the fact that this was done again, repeatedly, that made this time hurt more than the last.

I don’t understand people who do such things. Well, maybe I do, I realize I have the ability myself but I choose not to exercise it.  I know better. I feel differently. I don’t go for the emotional carotid. I have other ways to make my point, debate, argue, and yeah, hurt someone, without going for the deepest wound in their life.  I have my friend Karuna to thank for that lesson.

Years ago, on LiveJournal, I shared a similar experience. I believe that situation involved my ex-husband and his inflicting a similar wound.  Railing in pain, bleeding from the deepest parts of my soul, I turned to my LiveJournal friends at the time and spilled all the details into a journal posting, the title of which I have long forgotten.  As an adoptee and healthcare professional, Karuna likely said much in response. I remember only one sentence:

“you do not use a persons greatest wound against them.”

She was right.

My husband, and my sister years before him (her first offense), had indeed used my greatest wound – the loss of my first-born child to adoption – against me.  It was dirty pool. It is the mark of an unfair fighter, a nasty person, a mean-spirited sick soul that will go for the emotional carotid. Doing so stops the flow of blood from my heart to my head and sends me spinning into shock.  No need to check for a pulse. I am alive but emotionally dead.  It is a guaranteed win for them. A win that leaves me curled on the floor, literally or figuratively, attempting to breathe and regain my senses.  My white flag flies.

This time, this year, when my sister opted for that tactic I was momentarily confused.  The words she chose were out-of-place with the flow of the argument. Clearly she was losing, or felt she was, and she began to grasp at straws.  If there had been a mirror in front of me, versus the face of my older sister, I might have seen my eyebrows raise and squint towards my nose in utter confusion as I turned to my mother.

“What does she mean? Supplementing? Do you understand that?” I asked my mother.

My mother did not turn to me. Rather she stared at my sister and said “Don’t go there, Jule.”

It was then it clicked.


Where would my mother tell my sister not to go? What holy sacred ground would cause my 68-year-old mother to suddenly interrupt a heated argument amongst two of her three daughters and demand her oldest child not go THERE.

My daughter.


I literally stepped back as if I had been slapped. Only I hadn’t been.  All my emotional control, my logic, my desire to contain my own nasty fighting tactics began to shatter. I heard the small cracks forming in my emotional armor. My breath became shallower and my stomach burned and flew up into my throat to choke me.

It was time to go.  There would be no winner here. Nothing gained.   Only more to be lost.

I have lost enough. My child, enough of my soul, my life, my sanity.

I left. Packed up my belongings with the help of my loving husband and left.


As we drove away I remembered Karuna’s words and was thankful for them, for her, and for my ability to reflect on them at that crucial moment.  Had I not done so, things could have gotten much worse.  They didn’t. I didn’t. I don’t.

Do not use another persons greatest wound against them. If you do, be prepared for them to be dead to you and you to them. Relationship resuscitation may not be possible.

9 Thoughts.

  1. Oh Suz… my heart hurts… Thank goodness that those wise words were able to find their way through.

    Adoption ~ bad enough on it’s own much less used as a weapon, especially when used by a family member. I’m so very sorry.

    Sending you much love and a huge cyber-hug,

  2. I will simply say that I can so relate. I have had a couple of long time friendships that I just cut off…. My loss of my son and the gut wrenching hole in left in my heart and soul is not fair game. Even people who have said to me “just get over it! You found him” are no longer people I feel I can trust to share honestly with.

    It’s additionally hard when it’s a family member that does this, but I too have a narcisstic sister who somehow feels she can use not only mine greatest wound, but anyone that she deals with and has a falling out with, against them. She is out of my life and while I watch her live her sad, lonely life from afar….a part of me is sad to have been so betrayed by a “family member”…

    Anyway, I’m just rambling here….thanks for this most excellent topic and your points well made. I’m sharing it.

  3. I’m glad your mother also knew enough to put the breaks on there and, finally, provide some protection for you. Big POOH to your sister, though. It IS worse when it is from someone who is supposed to love us…they should know better and it’s cruel.

  4. “Do not use another persons greatest wound against them. If you do, be prepared for them to be dead to you and you to them. Relationship resuscitation may not be possible.”

    No truer words were ever spoken. Only one person in the family did this to us. As the years pass we only see her if she sees us first. Her warm welcomes are met with “Nice to see you, I am sorry but I have to go”. Her phone calls have all been unanswered. If she died we would send a card….

    • Trust? Not sure if it is trust or just good therapy. life experience and the support of great wise friends.

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