Today’s post stems from much thought being given to the idea that in the original abuse, I felt obligated to include those who in the past abused me or treated me as "less than" in my new life. This journey is a process and one that includes the relationships that that shaped my life and the lessons I've learned from them.
"Those who could not stand by me at my worst
can not know me at my best."
These words came to me as I contemplated the idea that I do not have to, am not required to invite those into my life that in the past abused me. I was an adult - and yet still felt very much like a child when it came to being around my siblings and in the past, my parents and many of the social and intimate relationships that I'd had.
And I suddenly realized the hidden resentment that was showing up in my resistance to attend those family get togethers was another one of theses "have to's" or "shoulds" and I felt like I was doing something wrong by not going...or just not wanting to go.
Family get togethers for me was where the pattern was to laugh and get along while we were all at the table but as soon as someone left...they became the next course; their lives, thoughts, appearance, children, choices being served up one by one and passed around the table filled with siblings, children and grandchildren learning the fine art of carving up their relatives and friends. Dissecting their very being while justifying the hateful comments and patronizing treatment seemed to serve a purpose to bring value to themselves and justify their own lives and their behavior.
And this is not to put down or criticize any one person or make light of this kind of abuse; its just the way it is in my family. Is and always has been and when I share this I am including myself in this kind of drama; we were raised in this and this was and is my families “normal” and it took me a long time to understand that this was not normal; that not all families engage in this kind of demeaning and disturbing assassination of one anothers character.
For many years I tried to figure out how to be "good enough" or do life "right enough" that I would finally win their approval, even joining in on this family tradition of demeaning others in order to find value in myself.
I tried over and over to "figure out" what was "wrong" with me in order to change it so I would finally be accepted, loved, comforted when I was in pain, my accomplishments celebrated....to the point of despair.
I fell into trying to reshape myself into being "good enough" as I sought approval and no matter what I did, no matter how "perfect" I was in keeping house, presenting well groomed children to the world, the right job, the new car, the new house, the right haircut, the right mall, credit card, bank account, attending church two and three times a week…
Each time I thought I'd finally arrived; that I was finally "good enough" or had done something "right enough" - there was always something else about me that was still not "enough".
No matter what the current issue was, the underlying expectation was that I was not to have my own thoughts, feelings, opinions and my choices were all being measured against some yardstick that was never the same day to day and based on someone else’s need for me to be different in order for them to be ok.
To save myself I had to step away.
I had to create a space and a life where I could begin to experience something different in order to see and understand that this dynamic in my family was my normal but it was not at all "normal".
I began to learn about dysfunctional relationships so I could recognize them and my role in them and thus how to step out of this role instead of expecting others to be different or change that I might be ok.
I began to understand when I was using the language of what I call "perpetual victimhood" where I felt helpless and hopeless over my life so I could recognize when and how to reclaim and take back my life by changing what I believed about myself and others.
And I began to let go of the anger and resentment that served to keep me bound and I began to see those who had not been able to stand by me in my own struggles and had even directly abused me - through the lens of compassion...
which in turn has allowed me to see myself and others with more compassion.
In doing this I also learned that the smoldering anger that could be fanned into a flame was really that place where I learned to grieve that which was and release the hope of what could be in order to live in what was…
and the truth that would set me free.
And I practice setting boundaries and being assertive, I've learned to listen to my body and trust my feelings to be my guide.
I’ve learned to recognize the thoughts and words that can take me down that road of despair and how to pull my focus into the moment that I might live free of the pain of the past…
I've recognized that my serenity does not depend on how others treat me but in how I allow others behavior to affect me...
my thoughts, my feelings, my moods, my choices.
And now instead of trying, wishing and hoping to be "good enough" or do things “right enough” to be accepted and honored by those who are still on their own journey, I am able to accept them where they are and have clear boundaries of what I allow into my personal space and thoughts...
instead of trying to shape how they treat me by shaping myself to be "good enough" or "right enough".
I now shape myself to be who I want to be and share my life, my dreams, my pain, my hope, my thoughts, feelings, joys and doubts with those whom I know accept me, without question
as I am.
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Seek Knowledge, find Wisdom, live your Truth!