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December 15, 2022

An “And World” can explain the approach we can take in our harrowing circumstances.

Lessening the severe extremes.

Embracing gray, in the middle of a first impression, black and white reality.

That’s often hard for us to do, especially if we come from abuse and dysfunction. Many of us are thoroughly indoctrinated into believe such rigid ultimatums as, “It’s my way, or it’s the highway!” We’ve been conditioned to believe that one experiences negates another.

Sometimes, however, in life, more than one situation, even while being directly in opposition to one another, can exist, simultaneously, at the same time.

For instance…

Yes, they abuse me, and they also can be loving…

Yes, they take care of me, and they also put me in jeopardy…

Yes, they have a mean streak, and they also can be charming and friendly…


A mighty powerful, sometimes confusing, and upsetting little three-letter word.

Cognitive dissonance is a term often used within the context of abusive dynamics.

Its definition…

“The state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.”


So that’s often in full effect as we try to tread water in abusive and unhealthy dynamics. If we are in a chaotic, harmful, even dangerous relationship with someone, “and” is a torturing reality.

It shows up as instability, inconsistency, cruel mind games, and manipulative tactics. It’s often emanating from “loved ones” who, yes, are supposed to love us.

But love doesn’t quite happen as easily and simply as it should, huh?


“And” can explain, although it doesn’t conveniently comfort, how radically different things can storm, in hurricane frenzy, around us.

It’s all in effect.

Love. Hate. Abuse. Kind treatment. Terms of endearment. The cruelest of slurs and insults. Being tended to. Being neglected. Beaten. Hugged.

It’s all there. It’s mixed messages. It’s daily and constant. It can be unpredictable. It often doesn’t “make sense.”

It’s this AND it’s that.



Not one or the other. Multiple realities, requiring we deal with them all.

Life is an “and world,” so much of the time, neither asking for our permission, nor giving adequate instruction on how to weather the inundating circumstances.

It seems like what we so often experience is just, “Go!”

We don’t get the time to rest or to regroup. Healing, if it exists, is often under extreme duress.

And: The Upside:

But there can be a silver lining of hope to the “And” situation.

Cognitive dissonance can get a bad rap. It’s the negative aspect of distressing confusion as our finite minds grapple to hold onto two dramatically different thoughts.

Our minds don’t do such a great job at that.

However, if we can give ourselves the grace and the permission to ALLOW two different thoughts to co-exist, while not placing pressure on ourselves to choose one over the other, there, perhaps, can be more sanity and peace.

It’s not ideal. It’s painful. It’s upsetting.

But if we can arrive at a place in which “this is true,” AND “that is true,” AND it doesn’t make us bad, or crazy, or wrong in the process, we can access more realistic breathing room.

It is what it is.

It’s not great. It’s not what we’d choose for ourselves, but reality is several complicated realities that exist at the same time.

It is all less- than- ideal. Ta-dah.

Imperfect. Painful. Difficult.

AND we can let ourselves off the hook for that. It’s beyond our control.

We can do what we can do, AND that’s it.

AND it’s enough.

Copyright © 2022 by Sheryle Cruse


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